Sunday, October 25, 2015

Computer Gaming 500 - The Best - Best use of a License

Computer Gaming 500 is an ongoing series about my experiences totaling 500 titles.  Here begins the listing games that received the perfect 10; see intro for more info.

I've already mention Back to the Future as being one of the worst games I've every played.  I would have never given it thought had it not been for the license attached to it.  This is a business practice repeated over and over; licensed money grabs with very little developer time or thought. ET for the Atari 2600 was the notorious grandfather of bad licensing.   Fortunately, there have been a few exceptions.  Of the 1% of license games which are note worthy, I've probably only played 5%.  Of those, I gave 2 of them perfect 10s.

Pool of Radiance (1988)
License: Dungeons and Dragons
It wasn't until 1988 that the moons aligned properly to allow a great D&D game to come to electronic home entertainment. Based on the Forgotten Realms book series of the same name, This game introduces gamers to the classic user generated ragtag party of adventures which venture through a well rounded story via first person free to roam mechanics, dialog with multiple choices and outcomes, and turn based isometric combat.  So, basically D&D on the screen.  This series and others following it ultimately killed my in person RPG sessions.  SSI didn't just stop at PoR, but rather allowed the continuation of the same party via export/import to 3 more equally excellent games in the series.  I've never seen anything like it, and still a rare thing to see (even though cloud saves should make this easier).   Many purists today argue that a true RPG must be isometric, critical of Mass Effect and Fallout 3, but long before this discussion began, The Gold Box games were both 1st person AND isometric; the grandfather of CRPG has spoken.

Knight of the Old Republic (2003)
License: Star Wars
What if we could take the Bioware RPG greatness we saw in Baulder's Gate and put it in the Star Wars universe?  That day happened when we were introduced to the days long past in the Star Wars universe.  By going 4,000 years into the past, Knights of the Old Republic were able to create something completely original in a universe somewhat familiar.  Much like Pools of Radiance, this game too has its roots in classic pen and paper rules using the Star Wars system.  However, the way it was implemented in the game, the rules felt modern and fresh compared to past isometric cRPGs.  Keeping to typical Bioware of the time; the story, characters, dialog and interface were top notch.  And of course  ...lightsabers in an cRPG, hell yeah!

I do have to make a shout out to X-wing and Batman: Arkum Asylum.  These were also great use of licensed material, however overall they fell just short of the perfect 10 on my list.

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