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Vol. 2, Issue 14
February 8, 2000

From the Mouth of Madness:

License Me!

by Jason "loonyboi" Bergman




n the history of licensed games, there have been only a few games that were anything but terrible. Games based on licensed properties more often than not tend to be rushed to meet a movie/TV show/comic book’s release date, and the end result is a steaming pile of crap.

There are a number of licensed titles in development, and several of them actually look decent. And recently there have been a few good licensed games as well (Wheel of Time and Aliens vs. Predator spring to mind as two good examples). There’s even a couple of Star Trek titles in development that might not suck (an ongoing curse for the license).

But then there’s the titles out there that haven’t been licensed yet (or announced, anyway). I’ve come up with a list of properties that I think are just screaming for a decent game to come along and license them. For each game listed, I’ve noted the type of game, because as Dune 2 proved, a license can work in one genre (in this case, a real-time strategy game) but fail miserably in another (the original Dune game was a lousy adventure title).

Anywho, let’s get to it, shall we?


Batman: The Animated Series: first person shooter.

I never would have thought this would work, until I played Thief: The Dark Project. Picture this – a game, played from a first-person perspective, that has you sneaking around in the dark, using your arsenal of bat-utilities instead of fighting. If done right, a good mixture of action and role-playing could be included. Unfortunately, this would have to be the animated series Batman, since the current movie incarnation is such a joke (and DC would never let a Batman game be made directly off the comic books – they’re not mainstream enough and would confuse their audience).

Night of the Living Dead/Dawn of the Dead: survival horror.

This is sort of a given, really. The Resident Evil games are all closely related to these movies, but they stray from them by adding non-zombie creatures and ridiculous plots. A true adaptation of either of these films would work really well – especially the first one, if it were in black and white. There wouldn’t need to be an excess of puzzles, just a simple “stay alive” mission, where you have to keep yourself and the people with you alive for as long as possible by using what’s at your disposal.

Philip K. Dick’s VALIS: text adventure.

Okay, so maybe it’s 20 years too late for this one, but I’m convinced that VALIS, by Philip K. Dick would make a great text adventure game. Here’s the idea – it’s a game where you play a schizophrenic, but you don’t know that when the game starts. You think everything’s just fine and dandy. But as you go around, things start to fall apart…and you eventually have to figure out what all of it means (I won’t ruin plot points for those of you that haven’t read the book). There are a number of great Infocom games that work in similar ways, like Suspended and A Mind Forever Voyaging (both highly recommended) but neither of them goes as far as a game based on VALIS would.

Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend: third person action.

This book was simply made for the action genre. Here’s the concept: a virus has turned the entire world’s population into vampires – except for one guy. You play that one person, and try and stay alive, while desperately searching for a cure. Memorable sequences include driving down the road shooting at vampires with your shotgun, and of course, looking out the window to see them mercilously taunting you. Then there’s the whole society of mutants…boy, this is some good stuff here, people. There may be a chance that this will get made…a new film adaptation (The Charlton Heston flick The Omega Man was loosely based on it) is currently in development hell, but at one point Schwartzenegger and Ridley Scott were going to team up on it. If the movie ever gets made, they may want a game tie-in to go along with it.

Starship Troopers: first person shooter.

Okay, I know, you can definitely argue that this game was already made, and it’s called Doom. But hey…there’s no reason someone can’t make a great game out of it. There was a game in development, a third-person action game, and GameStorm has a lame online version, but neither of those gave the license what it really needed – kick ass action, and nothing but. From what I’ve seen of KISS: Psycho Circus, Third Law seems to understand how to do this right. After they’ve proved themselves with that license, if you ask me, they should pursue this one.

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Credits: Illustration © 2000 Dan Zalkus. From the Mouth of Madness is © 2000 Jason Bergman. All other content is © 2000 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited, you strange, strange lad you.