Licensed games, as we’ve established pretty well by this point, can go either way. Sometimes they can be excellent games, bolstered by the “brand recognition” of what they’re based on. And sometimes they can be absolute pap that comes across as little more than a cheap cash-in.
Yogi’s Big Cleanup for Atari ST sits squarely in the middle. It’s not terrible — in fact its overall structure and design is quite likeable. But some unfortunately atrocious controls and collision detection make it a lot harder to enjoy than it perhaps could have been, which is a real shame.
Yogi Bear is, it is said, smarter than the average bear. He was certainly smart enough to find himself in several licensed games for a variety of home computer platforms in the early ’90s.
Here’s the Atari 8-bit version of Yogi’s Great Escape, a platform game that we’ve previously seen on the Atari ST A to Z series already. While technically inferior, the 8-bit version actually plays quite a bit better, with tight controls and clear mechanics that make it surprisingly enjoyable to play.
Licensed games were a real mixed bag in the 8- and 16-bit eras, because mechanical genres were still being defined and refined — and it was sometimes tricky to relate an established style of game to a particular property.
Hi-Tec was one company that got a bit experimental with their various licensed games. They had the rights to all the Hanna-Barbera cartoons, after all, and to their credit, rather than simply churning out various reskins of the same game, they tried lots of different ways of doing things — even between multiple games featuring the same character.
Yogi Bear & Friends in The Greed Monster is an example of a game where they got it right. It’s an interesting and enjoyable game, even today, and distinguishes itself by being just that bit different from other licensed games of the period.
I have been reliably informed that everybody needs good neighbours, and that with a little understanding, you can find the perfect blend. Of what, I have no idea. Perhaps a nice cup of coffee.
If you were playing Atari ST games in 1990, a little understanding would also have helped you to find Impulze’s official video game adaptation of a certain popular Australian soap opera on the shelves of your local W.H. Smiths.
It was… not very good. But at least they tried something a bit different to the usual “licensed platform game” approach beloved of companies like Ocean and their ilk!
Licensed games have been around for a long time… and they’ve gotten quite a bit better over the years. For the most part!
Back in the 16-bit home computer era, publisher Hi-Tec had the license to produce video games based on Hanna Barbera cartoons, including properties such as Hong Kong Phooey and Yogi Bear.
Today’s game is one of several Yogi Bear games that Hi-Tec put out at a budget price point. It’s a competent, if fairly unremarkable platformer — which, not coincidentally, is a descriptor that can be applied to 90% of licensed games on the Atari ST!
Who’s the leader of the club that’s made for you and me? Some mouse, I think.
Yes, it’s time for the official computer game adaptation of one of Disney’s most beloved properties: one Michael Mouse. This game was produced by Gremlin Graphics, and was noteworthy at the time for being a licensed game that eschewed the usual platform game formula. (Granted, Mickey Mouse and friends had several very good platform games throughout the 8- and 16-bit eras, but it was cool to see something a bit different!)
This is a pretty cool game with a couple of aspects that are inordinately frustrating… most notable of which is the fact that actually completing a level is next to impossible thanks to a monstrously difficult boss encounter! Oh well. At least it looks nice.
In the 8- and 16-bit home computer era, movie license games were typically developed either as platform games with a tenuous link to the movie in question, or some sort of minigame compilation, with each major scene from the movie being represented as some sort of interactive challenge.
Mindscape’s Days of Thunder was different. Here was a game that took the basic concept of the movie and simply used it as a basis to create a fully fleshed out experience — one that complemented rather than attempted to imitate the original work. The subject matter — motorsport — was ideal for such a treatment, and, on paper, Days of Thunder was a great idea.
Sadly, less than stellar performance meant that the game wasn’t as good as it could have been — a lack of speed and responsiveness in a racing game is a bit of an issue! — but it remains an interesting proof of concept as well as an intriguing anomaly that broke with the conventions and norms of the time. So I salute the effort involved, if not necessarily the final product we ended up with!