The Top 20 Underutilized Licenses
April 24, 2008 Page 1 of 20
Since licensed gaming seems bigger than ever these days, Gamasutra's editors felt - somewhat flippantly - that publishers might need some help picking through the pop culture landscape for un-optioned properties that have the potential to become great games (as well as a few existing game franchises in desperate need of a comeback).
Our criteria for putting together this article - with input from all Gamasutra staffers - was a mixture of gut feeling and impassioned argument; unscientific, to be sure, but rather than functioning as a guide to the 20 and only 20 licenses that could or should be explored, it's much more of a thought experiment into avenues many might not have considered.
Sure, judging by the history of licensed games, many of these ideas would probably be awful if they were actually made. On the other hand, there's nothing that suggests that given the right amount of time and budget that these games couldn't sing: just think about it.
And think about it is what we want you to do. This is not a realistic list, to be sure. It also serves as an exercise in examining how these licenses could be reborn or successfully imagined in today's market.
And it's not just about reawakening fallow game franchises -- inside, you'll find sports, books, movies and comics that haven't gotten the treatment they deserve, as well. And if you have licenses to add to this list, please comment on the feature below. Onward:
1. Kid Chameleon
The franchise: In the early '90s heyday of the platformer, Sega's Kid Chameleon had one ace up its sleeve to differentiate itself from the rest of the over-saturated market -- pure level selection. Sure, each of the game's advertised hundreds of levels may have been short and relatively basic, but in a time when many young players had a limited gaming budget, quantity often mattered more than quality.
Kid Chameleon's other big conceit was a slew of hats that gave the human protagonist a variety of exciting super powers. The game hasn't seen a sequel since its initial 1992 release, though recent availability on Wii's Virtual Console means today's snot-nosed punk kids at least have a chance of knowing who the heck he is.
The remake: With user-created content being all the rage in upcoming games like Little Big Planet and Spore, a Kid Chameleon remake could ride the crest of this trend. The new version would still have hundreds of levels, except this time around the variety would be provided by the player base.
Creating a wide variety of building blocks and an intuitive level-building interface would be key, but once that's in place an eager crop of would-be level designers should crop up to take advantage of what would essentially be a choose-your-own-platformer game. Add in the ability to easily share levels and play online, and you've got a game with essentially endless replay value.
Spin-off potential: The Kid's wide variety of hat-based power-ups would pave the way for a line of real-life hats lining the walls of Hot Topics across the country. Who knows -- if the game is popular enough, maybe the white shirt, jeans and leather jacket look sported on the game's box will come back into style.
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