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The Weekly Round Table: Our 5 favorite licensed games

Hello and welcome to the first in a new weekly series here at The Geek Getaway. I(TonyTGD) and some of the Geek Getaway staff will take a break from reviewing games and investigating things goings on in the geek world to all answer the same question. This week Janus, Rango, and myself kick things off with our 5 favorite license games.

Rango the Merc:
I can't say enough about the licensed titles I enjoy. Moreover, there's so many I can't list here. Yu Yu Hakusho: Makyo Toitsusen, Bleach: Dark Souls, and Jojo's Bizarre Adventure (PS1) are among my favorite anime titles, some of which never made it outside of Japan. Plus Marvel vs. Capcom set the standard for licensed fighting games and did so all the way through 2011's Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3.

pic via Bandai Namco
Dragon Ball FighterZ
Featuring fast-paced battles and beautifully-rendered animations, Dragon Ball FighterZ could be compared to playing the anime itself in terms of its fast-paced combat. In an era where Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite left the fighting game world in disappointment, the team behind FighterZ saved this generation. Featuring 3v3 battles, Dragon Ball fans will love the callback animations with the special attacks and Destructive Finishes. Plus it features an original storyline starring a new character named Android 21.

Arc Systems Works, designers of the Guilty Gear and BlazBlue series, is no stranger to licensed 2D fighting games. You can trace their licensed games back to Persona 4 Arena Ultimax and even Sailor Moon on the SNES! Dragon Ball's fighting lineage started on the SNES with the Super Butouden, evolving across console generations. Among its biggest releases was Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 for PS2. However, FighterZ culminated into the ultimate Dragon Ball experience.

Single-player fans may not have much to eat up besides the Story and Arcade modes. However, you'll find plenty to unlock, such as Avatars, Avatar Costumes, Titles, ranks online, and more. Not to mention it features some of the most ass-kicking music you'll ever hear in a fighting game!

pic via Capcom
Aladdin (SNES)
When licensed games come to mind, this pops into my head immediately. Aladdin SNES was one of the defining games of my childhood. Despite being only featuring 13 stages, this short, but sweet 2D platformer feels polished the entire way. Creative level designs and gorgeous animations compliment the fluid controls and balanced difficulty. Plus you'll get to enjoy the wondrous soundtrack!

Developed by Capcom, Aladdin was released alongside a Genesis version developed by Virgin. While the latter version allowed you to use a Sword in battle, the SNES title featured much stronger level designs and cleaner animation. Both games could tell the story, but I feel the Capcom title exuded far more polish and thus a higher quality game.

pic via Nintendo
Jump Ultimate Stars
When I imported Jump Ultimate Stars from Japan in 2007, people told me that it was a lot like Super Smash Bros. Combining Smash's knockback physics with Marvel vs. Capcom's team-switching mechanic, this game was unlike any other. Not only was it a crossover title of Shonen Jump characters, but its fighting system came with an addictive deck-building mechanic. This allowed you to build teams using manga koma (panels) including assists and passive buffs.

Featuring characters from Dragon Ball, One Piece, Yu Yu Hakusho, Naruto, Bleach, Rurouni Kenshin, Fist of the North Star, Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, and many others, you could play as your favorite Shonen Jump characters online!

Some of the mixed feelings I remember of this game include the random matchmaking with bad-mannered players. These players would gang up on anyone attacking them and do nothing for the remainder of the match. Near the end of the game's lifespan, players also hacked the game to allow infinite specials online, rendering them unbeatable. While the Jump Ultimate Stars community thrived on GameFAQs and IRC channels for custom matchmaking, the game would inevitably become eclipsed by Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. Brawl in 2008.

However, for anyone playing this manga crossover fighting game, it brought forth some amazing memories. Unfortunately, developer Ganbarion's titles almost never come to America. If you're still itching for some of that same action, your best bet is to import the One Piece: Grand Battle series on 3DS.

pic via Rocksteady
Batman: Arkham City
Batman: Arkham Asylum set forth a new definition of comic book-based games. Its 3D Metroidvania stage design allowed for incredible levels of exploration while its combat felt reminiscent of a 3D beat 'em up. Using Batman's tools, you took down enemies in a myriad of ways, to include steathily from the tops of gargoyle statues.

Its sequel, Batman: Arkham City, raised the standards a bit higher. Now you were exploring a full-on city in an open world setting. You would meet even more of Batman's arch enemies and even use the ability to glide across great distances.

I confess that I have neither played Arkham Origins nor Arkham Knight yet. However, whether you play Asylum or City, note that both are fantastic titles. If you love the dark storytelling of Batman combined with exceptional combat mechanics, plot points, exploration, and many side-quests, give Rocksteady Studios' titles a go!

pic via Sony
Marvel's Spider-Man
How do you expand upon the standards set forth by the Batman: Arkham titles? To Insomniac Studios, in every way possible. Developed by the team behind the Ratchet and Clank series, Marvel's Spider-Man puts the you in the shoes of the web-slinger.

The mechanics for swinging from building to building set forth a revolutionary standard. The velocity and physics, yet ease of use, bring forth Spider-Man's biggest and best adventure. Combined with its strong narrative, memorable score, and Spider-Man's classic quips, this title defines the standard of both Spider-Man games and comic book titles as a whole. Moreover, I can safely say this is one of the best games I have ever played, period. As a PS4 title, it stands among God of War, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and more in terms of quality.

Even after you take down the 30+ hour adventure, you can choose to download 3 DLC packs to expand the story further. You'll never get enough out of the myriad of side-quests and bad guys to pummel. Similar to the Arkham series, you'll take on multiple thugs at once and even take them down in stealth missions. It's the best of comic book licensed titles taken to the Nth degree!

Janus Julian:
Except for the first game, all the license games I decided to mention as favorites have one thing in common; they either are licensed card games, or licensed games that include a card minigame. Today for licensed card games, it is very difficult to find a good single-player experience, and once you start charging real money for booster packs, they are essentially loot-boxes.  Most of the games on my list therefore go back to a simpler time where multiplayer wasn't the focus and new cards were earned entirely in-game.  But first, Batman!
pic via Rocksteady
Batman: Arkham Asylum (Multiple Platforms)
What is it: The first game in the main series of Rocksteady's Batman Arkham games, based off the character and stories of DC comic's "Batman"

Why I like it: One of the best parts for me personally about this series of games is the fact that a lot of the voice actors used for characters like Batman also voiced those characters in Batman: The Animated Series.  As mentioned above when I mentioned about The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, the way that they mechanically get across being "The World's Greatest Detective" is done in a very satisfying way.  Not just that, but also engaging with multiple thugs in group combat, and other times where you're silently picking off armed goons one by one as they get more and more frightened, every aspect of the game-play gives you exactly what you would expect from an essential Batman experience.
pic via CD Project Red

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (Multiple Platforms)

What is it:  The third installment in CD ProjectRed's adaptation of Andrzej Sapkowski's series of books.  

Why I like it: Like a lot of people, I hadn't played the entire series before I picked up this game despite it being the third in the series (I had played a bit of the first but none of the second).  The vastness of the world and the story of the game took me by surprise at several times, and the game has only gotten larger with two expansion packs.  Aside from the main campaign, the formula of the side quests where you would go monster-hunting felt in parts similar to the Batman Arkham trilogy's detective mechanics (another series which will be mentioned on this list).  Doing research on the type of beast you are dealing with and devising the correct tactics and tinctures pays off in a very satisfying manner.
pic via Nintendo

Pokemon: Trading Card Game (Gameboy Color)

What is it: A Gameboy Color game based off Pokemon's trading card game.

Why I like it:  Nowadays you play online against real people, and you pay real money for virtual cards.  But back in the day, there existed games like this, where you had a story campaign where you would play against computer opponents and accumulate cards entirely through gameplay without any additional money involved.  In my opinion, this is when these sorts of card games were at their best, and Pokemon: TCG for the Gameboy Color is one of the prime examples; you go from gym to gym, playing against various other card players, and when you win, you gain booster packs.  There is even a cameo from "Imakuni!?", the main singer for the Japanese Pokerap.  He has his own card which is more a hinderance than a help in his deck (and yours if you choose to use it after you get it as a reward for beating him).
pic via Capcom

Yugioh! GX Duel Academy

What is it:  A Gameboy Advance game based off the Yugioh! GX Anime and Yugioh! Card Game

Why I like it:  As I said when I was talking about "Pokemon: TCG", this is one of those card games that has story campaign, multiple computer opponents, and gaining cards completely within the context of the game; in this instance, you gain Duel Points for winning matches which you can use to buy booster packs at an in-game store.  The game's story follows loosely the first season of the anime, though there is a limitation to number of cards that were included in this game which makes certain characters lack their key strategies from the show.  Nonetheless it has all the characteristics of a single-player TCG game that hits my sweet spot for what I want in that sort of game.

pic via Lucas Arts
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

What is it: An RPG based off the Star Wars Franchise

Why I like it:   The story of this game, along with the music and the demeanor of many of the characters gives this game a genuine star wars feel.  Combat is real-time, but you can pause to plan your strategy with various abilities and items.  I tend to prefer turn-based combat but due to the behind-the-character third-person view I don't mind it as much as when it's from a bird's eye view.  Though there is plenty of combat, the main focus is in your ability to roleplay through various encounters, deciding what sort of person you want your character to be.  Ultimately, whether you choose to stick to the light side or fall to the dark side has a massive impact on the late game as well.  There is one more reason that I enjoy this game:  Pazaak.  Card minigame built with its own story, computer opponents, and no real-life microtransactions?  You can tell by some of the other games I talked about in this series that that's my jam.

Being the old man of the site some of my picks are going to go a bit further back than those of my fellow writers. For as much as I love modern gaming and all the anime, cartoon, and comic properties getting great games I can't ignore the licensed properties from my childhood. I would spend hours upon hours playing these games so there is no way I could, in good conscious, not include them. That said, I could easily make a list of 50 or more of my favorite licensed games.

pic via Nintendo
Popeye (Colecovision)
The original Popeye arcade game was created by Nintendo, yes that Nintendo, in 1982. It was ported to all the major consoles of the era but the best looking version was the Colecovision port. The gameplay was rather simple, you guide Popeye around a level to collect hearts being dropped by Olive Oyl while avoiding Bluto and the objects he tosses at you. Popeye was unable to jump but you could punch thrown objects. Punching the spinach can in a level made Popeye invincible and allowed him to incapacitate Bluto temporarily should you run into him while the spinach effect was active. Popeye was one of the first games I played as a kid and I would spend hours trying to defeat Bluto and rescue Olive Oyl. It was simple, fun, and was the only game I wanted to play as a kid.

pic via Bandai Namco
Galactic Wrestling: featuring Ultimate Muscle The Kinnikuman Legacy (PS2)
Developed by AKI and published by Bandai, this game completely captures the essence of the Ultimate Muscle anime. It's silly, over the top, fast paced, and so damn AWESOME! Playing less like a traditional wrestling game and more like Def Jam Vendetta, the gameplay oddly fits the feel of the anime show to a tee. Galactic Wrestling remains the only PS2 game I still play on a regular basis.

pic via Capcom
Ducktales (NES)
Ducktales was one of my favorite cartoons growing up and I was so damn excited to pick this game up. Capcom took the Mega Man formula, mixed it with Mario, and created one of the best NES games ever released. This was one of the few games I actually played after I had beaten it. The game was released on modern consoles as part of the Disney afternoon 4-pack and I highly recommend you pick it up, and the other 3 decent games in the 4 pack, if you haven't had the chance to play this classic.

pic via Nintendo
Kung Fu (NES)
This one may be a bit of a stretch as the game was re-skinned and had all it's movie connections removed from the American release. The game was based on a 1984 Hong Kong action film called Wheels on Meals starring Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung. It is considered the first side scrolling beat-em up game and it still holds up to this day.

pic via Sony
Marvel's Spider-Man (PS4)
What can i say that hasn't already been said about this game by Rango or myself? Cheap plug aside, this game is fantastic and one of the best I have played in years. Swinging around the city is as much fun as beating up street punks and mafia tough guys. The few complaints I have about the game are far outweighed by all the good things it has to offer and I highly suggest every gamer out there pick this one up.

Well, that's it folks. Those are 5 of our favorite licensed games. What are your favorite games? Let us know below.