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Added by Axel Night on 6 Oct 2011 06:55
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LJN/Acclaim Licensed Video Game Travesties

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People who added this item 44 Average listal rating (32 ratings) 2.8 IMDB Rating 0
Back to the Future - Sega Master System
Released in 1989, just prior to Acclaim acquiring LJN, Back to the Future for the NES is an almost famous example of a licensed travesty. Don't believe me? Bob Gale, screen writer of the Back to the Future movie as well as avid gamer, had this to say about it in an interview with Telltale Games:

"The LJN people did not want any input from the filmmakers, but they promise to show us the game when 'it was ready'. I was outraged when they finally showed it to me and had all kinds of things I wanted changed, but of course we were told it was too late to change anything. I actually did interviews telling the fans not to buy it because I was so ashamed that a product this bad would have our brand on it."

LJN would go on to make the sequel, Back to the Future Part II & III. Bob was not happy.

Bob's co-writer and Back to the Future's director, Robert Zemeckis, also directed another film to get the LJN treatment the same year, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.
Axel Night's rating:
People who added this item 32 Average listal rating (17 ratings) 2.4 IMDB Rating 0
Batman Forever - Super famicom and SNES
Sunsoft and Konami had relatively positive showings in handling their respective games licensed for the Tim Burton classics, Batman and Batman Returns. Batman Forever was not a movie cut of the same quality cloth, lacking Tim Burton's direction, and so I suppose it just made sense to let Acclaim grind out a cheap cash-in. But while Batman Forever the movie was watchable, Batman Forever the game is most certainly not playable.

Acclaim had enjoyed some success, when charged with the duty of porting Midway's Mortal Kombat to home consoles. Why screw with success, right? So Acclaim used the Mortal Kombat fighting engine, quite unabashedly, and tweaked it into a scrolling brawler of sorts. But somewhere along the way, the speed and fluidity of the engine disappeared, and what remained was an unwieldy beast of contrived controls fumbling through a monotonous monstrosity of a game. It was a critical and commercial failure.

Acclaim was granted the contract to the sequel, Batman & Robin, as well. It, also, was a critical and commercial failure.
Axel Night's rating:
People who added this item 19 Average listal rating (12 ratings) 3.2 IMDB Rating 0
The Uncanny X-men - Famicom and NES
LJN's The Uncanny X-Men launched tandem to the the first animated cartoon attempt for the Marvel comic team, X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men. The game's flaws are innumerable. It's not just bad. It is outright broken.

Probably the wost part is the single player experience. If you can't find someone else to willingly subject themselves to this with you, the second character is AI controlled. "Controlled" is a term I use loosely. The character will make only the vaguest attempt to follow you, typically getting stuck on the cluttered terrain, while flailing attacks wildly in every direction. Should the character actually survive through the level and boss fight, they're that much more of a liability, since you are then put on a timer to escape before a bomb goes off.

Should you actually complete the four meaningful levels (Practice is a trap; press A + Start to escape it.), the final level with Magneto can only be accessed via a code. Where can one find this code? It's printed discretely on the game cartridge (It says, "B + UP together with START".), just a little ways under the Nintendo Seal of Quality (Quality, ha!). Well, sort of. See, the code doesn't actually work. You also have to hold Select to make it work. As if the horrid level design, broken AI controlled partner, unbalanced characters, stage tiles with ambiguous and inconsistent effects, and all around frustrating and boring game play wasn't enough to convince you this was a rushed, incomplete cash-in, the typo that insured you weren't even able to finish the game sealed the deal. It was not simply bad. It was a defective product.

LJN would go on to have a long and fruitful relationship with Marvel, releasing several mediocre and lack-luster titles for multiple consoles over the course of the next decade.
Axel Night's rating:
People who added this item 29 Average listal rating (15 ratings) 4.5 IMDB Rating 0
WWF Wrestlemania - Famicom and NES
1987 was a huge year for the World Wrestling Federation. Wrestlemania III, on March 29th, set the record for largest attendance of an indoor sporting event in North America with over 90,000 people. A record that would go unbroken for almost 23 years. Things were raining gold in wrestling world. It was time to rush out a licensed game!

Two wrestling games were already out for the NES, Data East's disappointing Tag Team Wrestling and Nintendo's own Pro Wrestling, which just happened to release the same month as Wrestlemania III and was a solid game years ahead of its time. With both a good and bad example to work with and now renowned British developer Rare in their corner, Acclaim couldn't possibly mess this one up.

Acclaim totally messed this one up. All seems well at first. Good looking character portraits, recognizable entrance themes, things look on the up and up. Then you start the match, and all falls apart. You're treated to two crude, cartoony figures mindlessly slugging it out. Outside of a bodyslam available to some of the six characters, there are only striking moves. No wrestling to speak of. You pound their life down to zero and pin them. But to pin, you have to press both a direction and a button, despite there not being any other moves usable against a downed opponent. And the button you have to press changes depending on which character you are using. It's sluggish, inconsistent and boring. Do yourself a favor and pick up Nintendo's Pro Wrestling instead.

Acclaim retained the WWF license for 12 years before THQ took over in 1999.
Axel Night's rating:
People who added this item 77 Average listal rating (51 ratings) 5 IMDB Rating 0
For The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants, Acclaim hired out the small, third party developer, Imagineering. It was the first console video game based on the Simpsons license and released in early 1991, shortly after Konami's arcade smash hit beat 'em up. If you came looking for that game, you've missed your mark.

At first, the game seems creative and fun. Aliens are planning to dominate the earth, and only Bart Simpson knows about it, thanks to his x-ray specs. The aliens need purple objects to fuel their plans, and so Bart is traveling the streets of Springfield, covering, painting over and otherwise eliminating anything purple.

The potential is certainly there. But the implementation doesn't back it. The controls are counter-intuitive to anything we've seen in a platformer. The A button players double-duty as both run and jump. Jumping is slippery and sloppy, and doesn't fit with the precision platforming required of you. The item-collection style of play is almost interesting, until you find yourself backtracking to meet the demands. The first level is actually harder in terms of meeting the goal than later levels, though those make up for it with ruthless platforming. Inventory management plays an important role in the game, but is cumbersome and unforgiving. All in all, it's not Acclaim's worst showing ever, due mostly in part to not actually being responsible for the coding of the game, yet they still managed to get some stink on it.

Acclaim continued to publish a total of 10 Simpson's games between 1991 and 1995. Half were done by Imagineering, though a couple were done by Acclaim's soon-to-be in-house developer, Sculptured Software. Krusty's Fun House is not entirely without merit, though it is an existing puzzle game called Rat Trap licensed for Acclaim to slap on the Simpsons license.

Not one to downplay a good game just to make a point, Itchy & Scratchy in Miniature Golf Madness for the GameBoy is actually a unique, entertaining and criminally underrated experience worth a moment of your time.
Axel Night's rating:
People who added this item 42 Average listal rating (26 ratings) 4.1 IMDB Rating 0
Jaws - Famicom and NES
Jaws was developed as one of LJN's first games by West One, best known as the masterminds behind Wonder Boy (and not much else). If you never owned a Sega Master System, you may better know Wonder Boy as Hudson Soft's Adventure Island. Jaws was released to coincide with the release of Jaws: The Revenge, the fourth movie in the franchise, which is widely panned as the worst in the series, as well as one of the worst movies of all time. Certainly, the game can't be near as bad.

The game is near as bad. You troll the seas in your boat, wandering aimlessly until you "hit something". You are then forced into a side-view diving scene in which you shoot up rays and jelly fish until the game lets you return to your boat. Enemies will randomly drop shells that you can turn in at a marina to power up. Once you're comfortable with your power, it's time to find Jaws and take him down (you're given a radar at one point, but it's kind of pointless, since he pops up all the time).

The game isn't out and out flawed. It's just dull. You kill the same two enemies over and over until you feel like taking the lengthy fight with Jaws. He's not large, intimidating, or even all that smart. He just has a lot of health. Once he's worn down, you do a little minigame in which you skewer him with your boat or fail and do the whole shebang over again. It's a mindless, redundant and boring beyond words experience.

LJN has since found their rainbow logo on games sporting such action-suspense, thriller and horror movie licenses as A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and Aliens 3.
Axel Night's rating:
People who added this item 9 Average listal rating (7 ratings) 2.4 IMDB Rating 0
This one is here as a sort of honorable mention. 1994's Street Fighter movie was enjoyable in a campy, unintentionally laughable sort of way. It departed so far from the source material that even casual Street Fighter fans cringed at the sight of a Hawaiian E. Honda or con artist Ryu. Yet the light hearted tone of watching Honda and Zangief battle Godzilla-style in a miniaturized city or the over-the-top but none-the-less classic performance of the late Raul Julia as M. Bison in his last ever film appearance made for a watchable waste of an afternoon, in the right mindset.

Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game is not so salvageable. The controls are unresponsive, the feel is slow and everything about the game is just not Street Fighter. Of course, Capcom is to blame for all of that. Acclaim's only fault is being the soulless creature needed to distribute such a turd to North America and still be able to sleep at night. And slept it did, like a baby.
Axel Night's rating:
People who added this item 10 Average listal rating (5 ratings) 4 IMDB Rating 0
NFL Quarterback Club '98 - Nintendo 64
'97 was a unique year for football videogame fans. N64 owners had the chance to pick up their very first 3D football title. In another unique twist, the Madden franchise was unable to obtain the license to the NFL teams. The players were all present, but their teams were generic renditions of their former selves. This left Acclaim's Quarterback Club franchise as the only 100% NFL experience available on the new Nintendo 64 console.

The dilemma was that while NFL Quarterback Club '98 had the teams, Madden Football 64 had noticeably better gameplay. The controls were more familiar, the characters were more animated and gave a better sense of interaction, and the plays felt less sluggish while being more balanced and tactical. There was a sense of action that lacked in Quarterback Club.

This is the part where I tell you that Acclaim made X number of sports games, and they were all bad. But, I do have to be fair where it is called for. Acclaim was responsible for a LOT of sports titles, ranging from those as fun to play with as an old urinal cake to some actual prime time competitors. They weren't really that much worse than anyone else making them at the time. 80% of all sports games are going to be shoddy anyways.
Axel Night's rating:
People who added this item 20 Average listal rating (11 ratings) 4.6 IMDB Rating 0
Rambo - Famicom and NES
Play as Sylvester "Sly" Stallone in his reenactment of the perennial film classic Rambo: First Blood Part II via a video game all too reminiscent of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. Sure, why not. They have a lot in common, like being franchises that are both notoriously frustrating to alphabetize on your shelf. (I've settled on all my Rambo movies going in the Rs and Zelda games going in the Zs. But not on the same shelf, of course. That would be a pretty sweet shelf, though.)

Rambo was one of those games developed in Japan and simply brought over by Acclaim. That means they must have had a chance to play it and see just how bad it was. Yet, they still brought it over. That's not just gamer-slaughter, that's premeditated gamer-murder.

Acclaim came back to abuse Sly with Demolition Man and Judge Dredd in the 16-bit era. Opinions are widely split on these two run-and-gun platformers, much like the movies they're based upon. They're at least better than Sony Imagesoft's Cliffhanger. But then, Sony Imagesoft could have their own list like this.
Axel Night's rating:
People who added this item 14 Average listal rating (8 ratings) 5.1 IMDB Rating 0
T2 Terminator 2: Judgment Day - Famicom and NES
Remember that scene in the beginning of Terminator 2, where the T-800 appeared and fought his way through waves of punks with pool cues and fists that each took several wild hay-makers to bring down? Then, after taking them all down, being very careful not to face more than one at a time, he walked into that bar looking for clothes, but silly him, he was already wearing some. And then a bar thug twice his size promptly beat him down into scrap metal with his bare hands.

Yeah, that's what I thought. Terminator 2: Judgement Day is a game full of these moments. It follows the movie at the strangest moments. For example, once you have the shotgun, you're then told you can't kill anyone with it. What this amounts to is you must crouch and shoot everyone in the knees. Killing enemies in this fashion is worth more points, which unlocks more powerful weapons, eventually earning you the minigun. The mental image of tearing away someone's kneecaps with a high powered assault rifle in an attempt to be none-lethal still amuses me.

The game is ultimately very short, but the challenge revolves around such challenges as finding your way through mazes of doors and, in the last level, torturous, timed platforming with leaps of faith. It's a game that can grow on you, but it is by no stretch of the imagination "good".

Other LJN titles to feature the ex-Govenator are True Lies in 1995 (which is a surprisingly entertaining game, though Beam Software was making some decent games for Acclaim by this point) and Total Recall in 1990 (an unsalvageable pile of dung with Interplay's developer stamp on it).
Axel Night's rating:
People who added this item 12 Average listal rating (4 ratings) 3.8 IMDB Rating 0
BMX XXX - Xbox
Towards the bottom of the list, it seems I actually had a few nice things to say in Acclaim's defense. That may be because as the years went on, they did begin to acquire some moderate talent under their arms. Or it may be because I knew this game would end the list, and I didn't want to be a complete jerk leading into it.

As 2000 came and went, the game market was changing. The flood of information that came with the Internet becoming a staple in homes and the technical advancements of consoles like the PlayStation 2 forced an increase in quality expectations. A game could no longer sell simply because of a recognizable brand on the cover, killing Acclaim's primary income strategy and putting them in the red. Though they refused to let go of the licensed content focus, some of those brands were still holding their own, such as Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX. But, when the third in the series didn't seem to be shaping up, Acclaim made a bad judgement call.

They decided to fill the game with immature sexual comedy and nudity, to try and build media hype. The result, BMX XXX, is more of a business and history lesson than it is a game. Not only is it one of the worst selling mainstream games of all time, but it also got them sued, as Dave Mirra fought desperately to remove his name from the project. This is one of many lawsuits Acclaim was facing at the time, due to shady employment practices and unpaid royalties. All of this cascaded until Acclaim finally closed their doors for good in 2004.

BMX XXX is not the only severe marketing debacle with Acclaim's name on it. But then, that's a whole new list, isn't it.
Axel Night's rating:

LJN Toys was an American toy company and video game publisher that focused heavily on toys and games based on popular movies, TV and other media with a strong, marketable license. Shortly after their introduction into the video game market, they were purchased by Acclaim. In order to circumvent a Nintendo quality control measure that limited the number of games a company could have officially licensed over a period of time, the company begin to churn out dozens of licensed titles under both names, saturating the market with what would become known as some of the worst video games of all time.

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