I was just thinking the other day about something weird. I was making a list in my head of upcoming licensed games that seem like they might be halfway decent, and it's actually a pretty extensive list, considering that licensed games are pretty much the bane of any gamer's existence. (As they should be. Have you tried to play Superman 64 lately?)
Now, there's actually a fairly long tradition of great licensed games when you think really hard about it. In fact, during the Genesis era, Disney put out a string of really great games based on their licensed properties. Aladdin? That game was great. The Lion King? True classic. Mickey Mania? Another knockout.
Even outside of the Disney realm, we had some true winners back then. Those SNES Star Wars games were awesome, as were games like Cool Spot, even though the Cool Spot series was nothing more than a giant advertisement for 7up. (The music in that game was so good though.) And who can forget GoldenEye 64? (Though, that one obviously came a bit later than the others that I've mentioned so far.)
Now, I'd try to make the case that somewhere along the line, licensed games lost their way, but that's simply not true. For every great licensed game out there, you can probably think of ten terrible ones from the same era. I mean, remember how bad E.T. was for Atari? You probably don't, but trust me, it was bad. It was so bad, in fact, that there's a longstanding rumor that the entire video game industry was in danger of collapse after its release. (And there are still legends told to this day about every unsold copy of E.T. getting buried in a desert somewhere. I doubt this is true, but I love believing it anyway.)
And if you can't think of ten abysmal licensed games per every good one, you probably just don't have a very good memory. Those of us with super short attention spans, though, probably haven't yet forgotten that last year was a pretty awful year for licensed games. Remember Deathly Hallows: Part 2? Or that Transformers game for the Wii where you didn't even get to transform? Dark of the Moon, I believe it was.
But looking to the future, we've got a pretty solid lineup of licensed games that are looking quite good. I got my hands on One Piece: Pirate Warriors at E3 this year, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much fun I had with it. The game based of the J.J. Abrams Star Trek films looks awesome too. And then there's LEGO The Lord of the Rings, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, Epic Mickey 2, Defiance (a video game project that corresponds with a Syfy series of the same name), and how could we forget that Deadpool game? These are all licensed games that are showing a fair measure of promise at this point in time.