With Transformers being removed from the Xbox Store this month due to licensing agreements, it got me thinking about all the other licensed games currently on Xbox One. Back in the days of the Super Nintendo, you couldn’t move for Ninja Turtles, Disney characters, Superheroes or cartoon characters. In more recent years, licensed games have got a bad reputation with many being mediocre at best. However, when Transformers: Devastation came out, it set a new benchmark for licensed games. Platinum Games put more effort into perfecting the cartoon colours than the original cartoon’s animators. They hired the original voice actors for Optimus Prime, Megatron, Soundwave, Grimlock, and lots of other Transformers. Platinum also added Vince DiCola, original composer for 1986’s Transformers: The Movie into the mix and created an ode to the classic series. It was a joyous romp down memory lane and THE ultimate Transformers video game. Now it is time to suspend my disbelief and check out some of the other licensed games on the Xbox One.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Mega Battle – Broken
With the new Powers Rangers movie hitting cinemas, releasing a 2D side-scrolling beat-em-up to cash in on the buzz seemed like a fantastic idea. However, the end result was a cheap and nasty rush job that was not only full of bugs. but had the same 30 second sound loop played throughout the whole game. I had hoped this would be good, but I was sorely let down.
Ben 10 – Short
Ben 10 is 3D action brawler based on the latest Cartoon Network version of the franchise. The visuals are great and the gameplay does the job. There are 10 aliens to use but seven are locked from the beginning and are simply given to you when you need their particular ability. The cutscenes work well and the special moves do break up the button-mashing. However, the biggest gripe has to be the longevity as it has six stages and only three boss battles, meaning the game can be completed in two hours. It would have been nice to see Gwen 10 as a secondary player so children can at least play together. Sadly, this game is too short to warrant the high price tag.
Winx Club: Alfea Butterflix Adventure – In-App Purchases
The low price of £7.99 is instantly appealing when looking for a game for your children, but be warned this is more akin to an iPad app than a console game. The game is littered with in-app purchases asking players to pay twice the games price tag for a pack of diamonds that can be used to unlock clothes and collectable cards. At the low price, I was happy to ignore the PS2 style graphics and even forgive the bugs and clipping when the player touches doors and walls, but once you hit the ‘in-app’ purchases, all respect and patience for the game disappears.
Disney Rush – Excellent!
I love this game on SO many levels. Disney Rush is based on the Pixar movies including; The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Up, Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Cars. Whilst the games do not follow the story of the films, they actually do so much more. The beautiful premise of Rush is that you are a child playing in a park with other children, when you select a level to play, you are essentially playing a make-believe game with one of the children in the park. You will find yourself escaping an Omnidroid factory with The Incredibles, Chasing the house in Up or preparing for the Piston Cup in Cars. The games can be playing by one or two players and the gameplay is very forgiving, meaning that younger players can get through the levels with little input. This is a fantastic game for children and parents alike as parents can drop in and out as and when they are needed for some of the ‘tougher’ puzzles.
Steven Universe: Save the Light – Passable
This beautiful RPG game inspired by Paper Mario is the spiritual successor to the mobile game ‘Attack the Light’. Show creator Rebecca Sugar teamed up with Grumpy Face studios to create a fantastic tie-in to the increasingly popular show. The game introduces a new villain and many of the show’s characters are present and accounted for. Overall, the game is generally good, but it does suffer from a number of bugs including missing sound effects and seemingly unachievable achievements.
Cartoon Network: Battle Crashers – Avoid
When a game is based on animation and comedy, you’d think that it would be brimming with animation and sound. Sadly, the game has only a limited set of animations and next to no voice overs. The graphics feel disjointed and flat and the sound effects were ‘phoned in’. Whilst the music is pretty good and the premise is sound, the overall experience is not worth your time.
The Disney Afternoon Collection – Nostalgic
This collection of licensed games from the 90’s will appeal to those who played them originally, as they are a fun romp down memory lane. The added ‘rewind’ option also means that you can rewind time to avoid mistakes and complete the games. Games such as Duck Tales are still fun and challenging, whilst Talespin is as infuriating as it was back in its heyday. The Rescue Rangers does offer two-player support but children of today are likely to prefer something a little more forgiving.
OK KO – Let’s Play Heroes – Charming
OK KO – Let’s Play Heroes is a single player adventure game that is set in the plaza from the TV show. You are tasked with completing a number of quests and side quests that mainly involve you meeting a character, getting a fetch quest and fighting your way to the requested object. Power cards unlock additional characters and special moves and there are plenty of boss battles to keep you entertained. The graphics and voice acting fit perfectly with the show and whilst the fighting can become repetitive the game actually has some charm.
Adventure Time: Finn and Jake Investigations – Surprising
This surprising addition to the Adventure Time games library is beautifully rendered and shows off the world and its inhabitants in stunning 3D. Whilst many of the characters are simply cameos, the simple gameplay, competent fighting mechanic and range of challenges are actually pretty fun. Fans of the show will hear many of the same jokes from the TV series, whilst more fairweather viewers will enjoy the new content. Finn and Jake Investigations may not win any awards, but Adventure Time fans will not be disappointed.
Just Dance Disney Party 2 – Limited
We are big fans of the Just Dance games in our house, but even for us, we found that the Disney Party 2 playlist very niche. All the songs are from the ‘teen-focused’ TV shows and movies including The Descendants, Austin & Alley, Violetta, Teen Beach 1 & 2 and Zapped to name a few. You won’t find any of the classic Disney movies on here, so be sure you are up to date on all of your Disney channel shows.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan – Terrible
The original Ninja Turtles games were some of the best-licensed games on the market but sadly, this is not the case for Mutants in Manhattan. Whilst the graphics look good, the frantic fighting, lack of any couch co-op and repetitive levels make this one to avoid. Having four poorly controlled team members fill the screen, players just see a mess of limbs and flips that draws players out of the action and into a state of disappointment.
Goosebumps: The Game – Retro
This movie tie-in game acts as a prequel to the events of the film and sees the player fend off the monsters from the books. However, if you are expecting an action-packed rollercoaster, think again. Goosebumps is an inventory-based point and click adventure game. Whilst many will find this slow, the writing is actually really good and fans of the books will get a few references and in-jokes. The puzzles are generally passable with a few head-scratchers thrown in for good measure. The game can be completed in around seven hours and I actually found myself enjoying this much more than I thought I would.
The Lego Games – Good Clean Fun
Whether you are battling super villains in Marvel Super Heroes, Avengers or Batman, or simply exploring hidden temples or lost worlds in Indiana Jones or Jurassic Park, the Lego games are always fun to play. Travellers Tales have consistently created enjoyable games that can be played by both young and old. The comedy mixes both slapstick and in-jokes and the wealth of content available means games can be as long as you want them to be. Whilst the bundle sets such as Star Wars and Harry Potter do offer longer single-player campaigns, there is still fun to be had in The Hobbit and Batman.
Special Mentions: The Over 12’s
The games below have an age rating of 12 and above, so are not advisable for younger children due to cartoon violence. However, for older children, the following licensed games are also on Xbox One
Marvel Vs. Capcom Infinite – Ugly Fun
The 30 strong character roster in Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite feature some of the best-known figures from both universes including The Hulk, Spiderman, Iron Man, Chun-Li, Mega Man and Dante. The visual style has been updated sinceMarvel vs. Capcom 3 and whilst it looks better overall, the characters seem uglier than previous iterations. However, the fighting is fast and furious and the tag team battles and the addition of the Infinity Stones mean battles are still frantic and fun.
Dragonball Xenoverse 2 – Decent
Fans of the Dragonball series will not be disappointed with Xenoverse 2. The game has some solid fighting mechanics, a vast hub world to explore and a pretty decent character creation section. Couple that with lots to find and secrets to uncover and you have a fun game that improves on its predecessor. The visuals fit nicely with the show and the SFX feels deep and crunchy despite a rather annoying hub world tune. Overall, its fun of action with hours of gameplay to enjoy.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 – Deep
This RPG dungeon crawler improves on the first game with additional characters, improved graphics and the removal of the unnecessary dialogue system. The story is more in line with the cinematic universe after the success of all the recent Marvel movies. Basically, after a group of young superheroes ended up causing death and destruction in a suburban area, the government try to make superheroes register their identity. Some heroes, such as Ironman is ‘for’ the move, whilst others such as Captain America are ‘against’ it. A secret war ensues and the games follow various missions taken from the comics. This is all explained in the first couple of missions, so players do not need to be fans of the comic books first. The game looks great and there is plenty of button mashing combat and exploration to your players busy for weeks.
Ghostbusters – Lacks Spirit
Ghostbusters is yet another licensed game trying to cash in on a mobile release. However, apart from a ‘Slimer’ cameo and a couple of the terror dogs from the original movie, there is very little to connect this game to the Ghostbusters universe. The main characters are different, the weapons are different and it’s not very funny. On the good side, however, is the fact that it is couch co-op and pretty easy to complete, making it an ok game for kids, but not worth the full price tag.
The legend of Korra – Empty
The legend of Korra is a light button-bashing beat-em-up that looks great but has its issues. The cel-shaded look and smooth animations tie in well with the series. However, the tired story, finickety counter controls do lower the overall quality of the game. Fans of the series may enjoy the bending mechanics and seeing the locations from the show, however, many of the other main characters have fleeting moments and barely engage with the hero. For the price, this isn’t too bad of a game, but due to the multitude of missed opportunities and limited enemy variation but doesn’t hit the big leagues.