Monday, August 17, 2015

Handling the License

Earlier this week I touched on multiple developers creating a game based on the same license. This was in reference to Yogi Bear, but it happens all the time with video games. Sometimes one team will work on the console version while another team creates the handheld version. Sometimes the publisher has the license and contracts different developers over the years. Whatever the reason, I'm always interested in how the two (or more) games stack up against each other. I always try to judge a game based on its own merits, but I tend to make an exception for licensed games. After all, no matter how good the game is by itself, its likeness to the IP it is representing is most important.

In the case of Jurassic Park the Super Nintendo, NES, and Game Boy games are all pretty much the same game. They each do some things slightly different (with the SNES being the most unique) but the Game Boy version is pretty much a port of the console versions.

If you look at Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie you'll see that almost all versions are as similar as the hardware allows for. The DS version, while being the definition of unplayable, even tries to mimic the console version's format. But when I got to the GBA tie-in, Kong: The Eighth Wonder of the World, I was pleasantly surprised to find a decent action puzzle game that is its own game. It follows the same story but the style is more like Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past than the other games.

Then there's the last type. Games that come out around the same time but are developed by unaffiliated companies. This happens a lot with comic book characters. Understandably, people want to know which one they should spend their money on. Unfortunately, this leads to a good/bad mentality. As I said before, I think games should be viewed for their own value. Batman: Arkham Asylum being a great game doesn't diminish the value of Batman Begins. I enjoy playing both to see how each one captures the essence of the caped crusader.

Whether the same company makes one game for all platforms, has a team for different platforms, or different companies entirely are making similar games, those games will have differences. I will continue to enjoy finding these variances as long as different gaming platforms exist.
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