games / Columns

The 8 Ball: Top 8 Licensed Properties Needing a Reboot

October 25, 2016 | Posted by Marc Morrison

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball. This week I’m talking licensed properties and how they should be rebooted. Almost all of these properties, save for one, have had almost universally awful games associated with them and have never really had anyone take the time, energy, and money to produce a quality game based on the franchise. This list is just pointing out some of the more egregious examples though. I’m ignoring stuff like South Park because it’s had at least one game (Stick of Truth) that was superb, even if all the other South Park games are junk. With that said, let’s begin:



#8: Any Marvel Cinematic Universe Hero Game

For this one, I’m ignoring the Disney Infinity series and just focusing on any named MCU games, which were all the rage initially but stopped after Iron Man 2. And to be fair, the only half-way decent of the MCU games was Captain America which was “eh, ok” but not spectacular. The thing about it is, most of these characters could easily slot into their own game. Hell, there was a great Hulk game from a decade ago, numerous Spider-Man games, some good X-Men games, etc. Aside from the new Spider-Man game, which I’m not even sure is connected to the MCU, there is no indication Disney even cares about this stuff, especially given how they’ve shuttered all other game development. Just give the franchises to Activision, and make sure they have the time to actually develop good games for Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, and the rest.

#7: Doctor Who

It says a lot when the best Doctor Who-related video game is the 1992 pinball machine. To date, there hasn’t really been any good Doctor Who game, with the Adventure games coming the closest but they were marred by not great gameplay, bad stealth sections and poor puzzle design. Honestly, given the scope of Doctor Who it might be nigh impossible to create a complete DW game, but the adventure game route does seem ideal, the BBC just needs to give it to a developer (let’s go with Dontnod) that could do the license some justice.

#6: Judge Dredd

There have been a handful of Dredd games and none of them captured the feel of the comics and world. The SNES version came closest but still wasn’t there. Ideally, a third person open-world game would be the best, where you can arrest and detail the normal criminals of Mega-City One, but the supernatural and weird enemies Dredd frequently comes up against as well. The open-world aspect is key, since Dredd is a mobile character with the Lawmaster bike, and the huge city that MC-1 is supposed to represent. Really, I just want a game where I can finally play with a Lawgiver pistol.

#5: Spawn

The range of Spawn games is dismal, to say the least. The SNES one is unquestionably the best Spawn game, but it’s an extremely difficult game, given how you had to use Spawn’s powers. The big thing with Spawn is that he has a literal countdown on his powers, so the more he uses them the lower the number gets. That could actually provide some interesting scenarios where you have to limit your powers in a level in order to save up attacks for a boss, or against harder levels later on.

#4: Robocop

Playing the Xbox version of Robocop is a travesty that shouldn’t be wished on anyone. The aiming was bad, the AI was worse, it was ugly, and Robocop would routinely die, often times you don’t even know why it happened. Oh, Robocop’s catch phrase was taken from Macho Man, because he says “OH YEAH!” every 3 minutes or so. A small problem with a Robocop game is that Robocop himself moves pretty stiffly in almost all incarnations, and that makes for some awkward gameplay. Still, an open-world law enforcement game with Robocop, much like Dredd, would be a challenge but not impossible.

#3: Evil Dead

The highest bar the Evil Dead games have aspired to was a State of Emergency knockoff title, and State of Emergency wasn’t even that good of a game. Unlike most of the other games on this list, I have a pretty specific idea in mind. I’d envision an Until Dawn-style game where you can play as Ash through shortened episodes of Evil Dead 1 and 2, culminating with you teaming up with Ash Vs. Evil Dead team-up with Pablo and Kelly. Or really, you could skip the preamble and just do an Ash vs. Evil Dead video game, that would go over very well.

#2: Superman

There has been about a dozen or so games featuring Superman as the main character and not a one of them has been good. I like the Superman Returns game slightly, but it’s not a good game in the slightest. Part of the problem is that with Superman a figurative god, it is entirely too hard to actually design a game around a guy who can’t be killed (or even hurt in 99% of cases), laser beam eyes, super speed and strength, and a half dozen other powers. The other part of the problem is that no one seems to really care to fix the power issue. The Superman Returns game at least had a novel way of dealing with the health issue, it’s just the actual game wasn’t fun to play.

#1: ReBoot

This is actually the genesis of this column and me thinking about the old EA game they put out in conjunction with the show. The game itself was bad and had little to do with the show. You were on a zip-board (hoverboard) non-stop and you repaired system tears and battle Megabyte’s forces with a variety of guns. Aside from the tears part, which only happened rarely in the show, the entire game had next to nothing to do with the source material. I can understand why they took the approach, it was more simple and easier than the show, but that’s not a great answer. It would actually be a lot more fun if they made a ReBoot game now where you actually have to take part in the games the user plays. Imagine if you booted the game up and it was a Mortal Kombat-esque fighter one time, and a Dungeons & Dragons style RPG the next. They could have the game be procedurally generated which would add a new infinite replay factor since every game within the game could be different. Alas, much like the rumored sequel to ReBoot, this game concept will never come to pass.


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The 8 Ball (Games), Marc Morrison