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On Running Feuds
A Wii Too Many Licensed Games
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on November 10, 2006   |   Episode 119 (Show Archive)  


I'm never going to get sick of watching people play with their Wii!
It's hard to believe, but in less than ten days gamers around the United States will finally be able to pick up the Sony PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii. We're at the point where very little can change between now and the launch, especially when it comes to launch games and the packaging. There will be more than fifty games coming out this year between those two systems, most of which are coming from third-party companies looking to make a few bucks off of the impending launches. If you're the type of person that will be buying your new systems on day one then you're going to have a lot of titles to choose from, regardless of what system you end up buying.

But there's something troubling about the Nintendo Wii's launch line-up, something that scares me and makes me worry for the future. It has nothing to do with Nintendo's first-party titles (which include Excite Truck and The Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess), nor does it have anything to do with the

Outside of the new Zelda game, Rayman is easily the most exciting game at the Wii's launch!
over-hyped products coming from Nintendo's biggest third-parties (like Rayman Raving Rabbids or Red Steel). Instead my concerns have to do with the amount of games coming from licensed products.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about all of the sports games coming out that feature licensed players and teams, that's the kind of thing you expect at any

If The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy is the first game you buy for your Wii then it's time to shoot yourself!
launch. Instead I'm concerned about the amount of Wii games that are based on actual TV shows and animated movies. A fully one-third of the games hitting Nintendo's new system are based on some sort of outside property, mostly animes and CGI movies. Will this amount of licensed games be the norm when it comes to the Wii? And if so, will this amount turn off the average game player that is looking for something more substantial than a movie-to-game adaptation?

As of this writing I am counting eleven different licensed games hitting the Wii in the launch window. A good chunk of those titles come from products that are based on popular animated movies, such as Happy Feet, The Ant Bully, Cars, Open Season, Barnyard and Ice Age 2: The Meltdown. Several come from animated TV shows, such as The

Happy Feet? Oh you have to be kidding me!!
Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Spongebob Squarepants: Creatures from the Krusty Krab and Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2. And then there's Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, which comes to us from the world of comic books.

Licensed games are nothing new; every system ends up with more than their share of disappointing games based on kid-friendly movies and TV shows. But rarely do we see so many licensed games all at once. This is especially surprising when you consider that this is for a system launch. Usually this is the time when companies are releasing new and original products to attract gamers to the system, hoping to hook gamers on new IPs before all of the big franchises and sequels start hitting the system. But that doesn't appear to be the plan for the Nintendo Wii and that's something you should be worried about.

At least the Xbox 360's crappy games gave you achievement points!
This is certainly not what happened with the launch of the Xbox 360 or the upcoming release of the PlayStation 3. When Microsoft released their next generation console last year they had only one games licensed off of a movie or TV show, Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie. The Sony launch has one more licensed game, bringing the total up to two games out of twenty releases. If you plan on picking up a PS3 you can always pick up a copy of Marvel: Ultimate Alliance or Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire instead of brand new games like Resistance: Fall of Man.

That's not to say that all of the games on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are going to be worth buying. I'm sure there will be more than a few games on each system that are worse than

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance may be one of the few licensed games that is actually worth playing!
Open Season, Mobile Suit Gundam and The Ant Bully, but at least something like Genji or Gun are based on original ideas. Anybody who has been playing games for more than a few years should already know what to expect from licensed games, they tend to fail at even the most basic functions and are usually nothing more than cookie cutter products you've see done better elsewhere. Are there really going to be gamers out there who can't wait to open up their system and play Ice Age 2: The Meltdown and Happy Feet? Say what you will about the movies, but pretty much everybody that knows anything about gaming already knows that these games aren't going to be the killer apps the system is looking for.

To some Nintendo fans these licensed games are nothing new. When it comes to the GameCube's line up over the past 10 months it's been a steady diet of nothing

Lego Star Wars proves that not all licensed games are the same, some are actually worth playing once or twice!
nothing but bad licensed products. I'm talking about games like Flushed Away, Naruto: Clash of Ninja 2, Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy, One Piece: Grand Adventure, Monster House, Teen Titans, Cars and dozens more. Sure some of these games also hit the PlayStation 2, Xbox and Xbox 360, but those systems had plenty of original content to balance out a couple bad movie games. The GameCube, on the other hand, featured very few original titles over the past year. Since June ten of the 19 games released on the system have been based on some kind of movie or TV property and the rest were sequels and games ported from other systems.

This isn't how the GameCube's life originally began; when it was released five years ago there were very few licensed products. Of the launch line-up only two games were based on some kind of other media, Batman: Vengeance and Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron. The rest

There is absolutely no chance what so ever that Trauma Center will be the best selling game on the Wii!
of the line-up included things like Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3, Crazy Taxi and Super Monkey Ball. But as the years went on the GameCube became the system best suited for these terrible movie games that no serious gamer wants to play. Despite claims to the contrary, it's clear that the third-party companies felt that the GameCube's target audience was nothing but snot-nosed kids who beg their parents for games based on big budget animated movies.

To be fair to Nintendo and their new system, the Wii has plenty of exciting games that are not based on an anime or Disney movie. They have games like Trauma Center: Second Opinion, Elebits, Far Cry: Vengeance and Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent. But with so many licensed products you're going to have to look a little harder to actually find a game worth paying for. It's disappointing to see such an emphasis put on licensed games so early in system's life, especially when we see what happened to the GameCube over the years. Hopefully this is just a fluke and we will see more original IPs as we enter 2007. But looking at this line-up I would be a little concerned that the third-parties are going to do exactly the same thing they did with the GameCube to the Wii.


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