For most serious gamers, the words "licensed game" and "teh suck" are pretty much synonymous. Most of the time, publishers will snatch up the rights for an existing movie or television series and farm development out to the lowest bidder. Who cares if it's actually good or not? The idiot fanbase will still buy it in droves. See practically any game based on an anime series for an example. However every once in a while the Gods smile upon us, send their only begotten Son to get nailed to a stick, and we get a licensed title that turns out to be a true gem. This is the first in a series of posts where I'll be showcasing some of these rare games. To start things off I've chosen one of the best licensed games ever made, 1989's Naughty Ducks' Dream Adventure (better known as DuckTales) for the NES.
For most of us who were children during the late 80's, DuckTales was a regular afternoon television fixture. Based on Disney illustrator Carl Bark's Scrooge McDuck universe, the series featured the wealthiest duck in the world going on globe-trotting adventures to acquire even more wealth with his grandnephews Huey, Dewy, and Louie. The show ran for 100 episodes and spawned a feature-length movie. In 1989, Capcom turned this popular franchise into a video game with Tokuro Fujiwara (who is also known for his work on the Ghost N' Goblins and Mega Man series) as producer.
Just like in the show, the game features Scrooge McDuck traveling around the world searching for more treasure to add to his already ridiculously large fortune. The game featured five levels that could be tackled in any order (similar to Mega Man), including The Amazon, Transylvania, African Mines, The Himalayas, and even The Moon (which features one of the best game scores ever). Each level found Scrooge collecting money and defeating enemies with the help of his trusty cane, eventually ending in a boss who was guarding one of five legendary treasures. Additionally, you could find two lost treasures (One hidden in the African Mines level and the other on The Moon) to add even more bling to your Money Bin. After completing the five levels, you arrive home to find that your fortune has been swiped by Scrooge's archenemies, fellow Scotsduck Flintheart Glomgold and sorceress Magica De Spell. The final level is a trip back to Transylvania to recover the stolen treasure.
While DuckTales did a great job capturing the premise of the show and features cameos from most of the regular cast, what really makes this title stand out is the excellent gameplay. Using Scrooge's cane as a pogo stick to bounce around the levels is a total blast, and replay is encouraged to gain as much wealth as possible to increase the size of your treasure heap during the ending. Many of the chests are hidden in out of reach areas, only accessible by rebounding off the heads of enemies or wacking objects into the air using your cane like a golf club. Many levels also feature alternate routes to take and hidden paths, the best of which will feature significantly more opportunities for treasure. The time you take to complete each level also factors into the amount earned, so the quicker you finish the more you'll gain. As a kid I probably played the game through over a hundred times, yet I still never managed to get the best ending. Of course, I kinda suck at games.
Capcom held the Disney license for most of the 90's, and nearly every title they made was quite enjoyable. Don't be surprised if this isn't the last Disney title I feature in this series. However Duck Tales stands out as one of the best, and still holds up well today. Seeing how Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for NES got a release on the Virtual Console despite the rights transferring from Konami to Ubisoft, with luck fans might get a chance to play this classic once again.
So what do you think Internets? Good idea for a series? Has someone already done this? Let me know if you enjoyed it and want moar. If you have any other suggestions for licensed titles I should cover, feel free to speak up in the comments. Any Rule 34 pics featuring Mrs. Beakly and Launchpad McQuack can be sent to me via PM.
Licensed Games That Don't Entirely Suck - #1: DuckTales
Licensed Games That Don't Entirely Suck - #2: Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers Licensed Games That Don't Entirely Suck - #3: Super Star Wars Trilogy
Licensed Games That Don't Entirely Suck - #4: MYSTERY ARCADE GAME