"Best licensed games" written on top of a scene from the Max Mad licensed video game, showing a car with someone shooting from the sunroof.

5 of the Best Underappreciated Licensed Video Games

These are the best licensed video games that are not Spider-Man or from the Batman: Arkham series.

Following my High Moon Studios article, I thought it would only be fair to make a list of other stellar video games based on popular licensed properties.

Merging two entertainment mediums can be tricky, especially when a certain expectation is had, and we can’t forget about the fact that almost always these mergers are used for nothing more than predatory reasons. Some are less focused on giving players a quality experience and more focused on robbing players blind off the back of a popular franchise.

Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, and that’s why we are here – to give credit to those games and the developers that went above what was expected.

For the sake of clarity, there are a few points to note:

  • This list is in no particular order; game number 1 could be game number 5 and vice versa.
  • I have not played every licensed game out there, so if I miss your favourite, It’s not because I necessarily have a bad opinion about it but most probably because I have never played it – leave a comment below if there are any omissions you would have included.
  • For the sake of not being redundant, I will be leaving off any game developed by High Moon Studios.
  • I will be trying my best to focus on lesser-known games or at least games I feel were underappreciated.  Don’t expect games like the Rocksteady Arkham series or the latest Spiderman game, even though they will be referenced (a lot).

Hopefully, you will find something new and enjoyable that you may have passed on before.

Now, let’s get to it.

1. Ghostbuster: The Video Game (Terminal Reality 2009)

When the 2016 reboot of Ghostbusters came out, the whole nerd kingdom was up in arms. Loud voices of disapproval were everywhere and buried the movie even before it was released. I understand the uproar; this is a beloved franchise that always deserved a sequel but never got it. But didn’t it?

The Ghostbusters video game developed by Terminal Reality is just as much a Ghostbuster sequel as anything that could have ever come out. Not only was it written by the legendary Harold Ramis and Dan Akroyd but also had almost every major actor return to voice their character in a story that not only respected the past but also pushed the story forward in a way that felt believable and natural.

But the best part of this whole package is that it had excellent gameplay to back up its impressive narrative. Wielding the proton pack felt powerful and dangerous and wrangling ghost was fun as hell. Slamming them against the walls as your surroundings crumble was chaotic and slam dunking these pesky apparitions into your trap was immensely satisfying. It took the design of the third person action game and altered it in a way that felt new and fresh.

Play this game. If you are a Ghostbusters fan and haven’t played it shame on you. If you have never heard of Ghostbusters (seriously?) still play this game

2. Batman Begins (Eurocom 2005)

Before Arkham Asylum, there was Batman Begins, a completely competent and enjoyable Batman experience that absolutely no one talks about. It’s a more streamlined experience but one that has all the shadowy takedowns and Batman Kickass-ary one can want in a game.

The combat is fast, fluid and the stealth mechanics work well even if they are a little simple. There are even sections where you get to drive the Batmobile in sequences that closely resemble the chaos of the Burnout games, even with awesome slo-mo takedowns. Everything in this game is very streamlined, gadgets are simple to use, and the combat scenarios are never too difficult which can make the game feel a little shallow but the core Batman experience you would be looking for is here and it’s done very well.

3. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Raven Software 2009)

The only good thing to come out of that god awful X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie was the awesome game based on it. The folks at Raven Software decided to make this the most authentic Wolverine experience as possible, similar to how High Moon Studios handled Deadpool.

Only loosely following the movie (thank God), X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a fanboy power trip. As far as gameplay is concerned it’s a basic hack and slash action game. It’s bloody and filled with gore, giving us an experience that is as close to what Wolverine really is as possible.

Impaling enemies with your claws, throwing them around like rag dolls, and tearing them in half was something no other Wolverine game has done. It was and still is awesome. But the attention to detail didn’t stop there; maybe the coolest aspect of the game is that whenever Wolverine would take damage punctures in his body would slowly reveal his adamantium skeleton, only to heal himself back up again. It is these minor details that really shows the thought and care Raven Software put into the game.

The boss battles were also pretty sweet. You fight every major villain from the movie with some new additions to spice things up. The fight with the Sentinel was a big highlight specifically.  This is a game no X-men fan should of sleep on.

4. Atlantis: The Lost Empire (Eurocom 2001)

Atlantis: The Lost Empire is a criminally underrated game, much like the movie it is based upon. At first, it may seem like a simple kids game but turns out to be so much more.

With an awesome amount of mission variety and the ability to take control of almost all of the major characters from the movie, the game consistently mixes things up and turns a simple 3D action game into something special

Each character has their own set of skills and weaponry, resembling their movie counterpart well. The vehicle sections specifically are extremely well done and partaking in the film’s most memorable action sequences can get exciting.

It’s not a challenging game at all but represents the movie extremely well while also taking liberties of its own that add a little more excitement. There are some questionable design choices, such as some silly enemy encounters and a camera ripped right out of the early 2000s, but if you are willing to accept the fact that this game is targeted for kids, there is something truly enjoyable here.

5. Mad Max (Avalanche Studios 2015)

The biggest gaming tragedy in the past generation has to be the complete lack of appreciation for Avalanche Studio’s Mad Max. It didn’t help that it released the same day as Metal Gear Solid V (boy, do I have things to say about MGS 5) but even still, it was an extremely solid game that was unlike any open-world action game around.

The heavy emphasis on vehicular combat and modification gave Mad Max a level of uniqueness that many open world games of the time were missing. Everything revolves around your Magnum Opus (the car), from simple navigation to puzzle solving. Finding scraps, upgrading your car’s weaponry, destroying enemy convoys, and navigating this beautifully barren wasteland was awesome, to say the least.

The story was not as deep as I would have liked but the richness of the environment more than makes up for it. Simply driving from point A to point B always results in something cool happening, from an enemy ambush to an epic thunderstorm that would absolutely devastate you if you weren’t careful.

The hand-to-hand combat was also stellar and had a real feeling of brutality to it. Despite being a variation of the popular combat mechanics of the time, the brutal takedowns and psychotic enemies gave it its own identity.

If for one reason or another you skipped passed this gem you owe it to yourself to try it, especially that it can be bought for less than a cup of coffee.

What is your favorite licensed video game?

Be sure to comment below with some of your favorite licensed games and maybe I will discover something I missed (I’m sure that I will).