Before mobile freemium cash-ins, licensed games were full-fledged affairs made to compete with Mario and Mega Man. Games based on TV shows like Home Improvement sold at full retail price and were expected to stack up against original IPs; sometimes, the licensed games even outperformed the originals.
Here’s some of our picks for the best licensed games on the SNES from TV, comics and movies. Some of these games are comparable to the industry icons that inspired them, and the others are a completely unique experience drawing upon an established franchise for a basis.
10. Beavis and Butt-Head
The art style and line work of the Beavis and Butt-Head cartoon lend itself well to the 16-bit era. This SNES title looks like a pixelization of the cartoon itself, and it does a great job of capturing the feel of the show.
There’s a little more action here, as Beavis and Butt-Head actually get off the couch for once. They need to get to a concert for their favorite band, GWAR, and they have to skateboard through a lot of townsfolk to do it.
Beavis and Butt-Head has a bit of platforming, a bit of puzzles, a bit of combat, and some genuine humor. It’s even better with a second player. Sometimes, simple is better.
9. Biker Mice from Mars
There are two main types of racing games on the SNES. There’s mode-seven third-person racing, like Mario Kart and F-Zero. Then, there’s isometric racing, like Rock ‘n Roll Racing and Biker Mice from Mars.
Biker Mice might seem rudimentary now that we have racing games with 3D graphics, but this game still holds up very well. Once you get used to the isometric view and the D-pad controls, it’s really fun to use attacks and items to thwart the other racers. The show is often criticized for being a derivative cash grab, but the game has earned its praise.
8. True Lies
Watch out, Hotline Miami, here comes True Lies for the Super Nintendo. But seriously, this is a solid top-down shooter reminiscent of Zombies Ate My Neighbors with slower, methodical action.
The graphics and music aren’t anything to write home about. The game is also only somewhat accurate to the movie.. But guess what? None of that matters when you’ve got nine stages of solid, strategic, action-y fun. Plus, you get to look at a little pixelated picture of Schwarzenegger’s face the whole time.
7. Goof Troop
Goofy and Max have to solve puzzles, eat fruit, and throw barrels into enemies in this action-puzzle game. Even though it’s a bit short and simple, Goof Troop is one of the best co-op games on the SNES.
It received mediocre reviews upon its release, but nowadays is considered a classic. Modern reviewers have heaped plenty of praise on the title.
Goof Troop was also one of the first games designed by Shinji Mikami, who later went on to direct Resident Evil, Dino Crisis, God Hand and many other masterpieces.
6. Disney’s Aladdin
This is a pure platformer, and it does everything well. This Capcom game was released around the same time as a Genesis version made by Virgin Games. They’re both pretty different, but the SNES one tends to win by a slight margin when it comes to reviews.
The gameplay, graphics, and sound are all perfect. Capcom knocked it out of the park, with all seven stages being equal levels of fun. There are no bad segments in this title, and it’s even worth playing if you’ve never seen the movie.
5. The Adventures of Batman and Robin
Originally released in 1994, this game was nearing the tail end of the Super Nintendo’s lifespan. The Adventures of Batman and Robin benefitted from experienced Konami developers that knew how to squeeze every last drop of performance out of the SNES processor.
As a result, we got an awesome Batman game with impressive graphics and awesome sound design. The characters and backgrounds really look and sound like the ‘90s animated series, and Batman has a suite of gadgets to defeat the criminals and crooks.
It’s single-player only, so the title is a little misleading. Robin isn’t really a part of this game, but that’s alright; it’s plenty of fun solo. Batman’s a loner anyway, right?
4. Super Star Wars
For the sake of brevity, we’ll condense three games into one for this entry. The Super Star Wars trilogy consists of three games. There’s one for each entry in the original trilogy.
When it comes to run-and-gun platformers, no other game comes close to the brand recognition of Star Wars. There’s multiple selectable characters, levels that represent locations from the movie, vehicle segments, and power ups. Luke has his lightsaber, Han has his blaster, and Chewbacca has his weird crossbow thing. What more could you want?
This is a must-play for any Star Wars fan, and definitely worth checking out for anyone who wants a little more action in their platforming.
3. Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage
If this game sounds familiar to you, you might have seen it at a friend’s house. Anyone would remember Maximum Carnage’s bright red cartridge. It stuck out like a sore thumb in any SNES game collection! (Unboxed, of course.)
This is an awesome game for Marvel fans, given that you can play as Spider-man or Venom with power-up assistance from other Marvel heroes. There’s also comic-style cutscenes complete with speech bubbles and a grungy rock soundtrack. The beat ‘em up style can sometimes feel repetitive, but it’s worth sticking through for the awesome boss fights.
The game has a sequel, subtitled Separation Anxiety, but it fared a bit worse than Maximum Carnage.
Instead of a generic platformer with lives or a health bar, Animaniacs takes a creative approach using all three of the titular characters. You have access to all three and are able to stack them on each other to reach high platforms. However, they can also get caught individually, leaving you with two, and then one singular Animaniac.
Ahead of its time by a full generation, Animaniacs is also somewhat of a collectathon. Much like many N64 platformers, the goal of the game is not to beat a set of levels, but to collect a certain number of script pages. The graphics are snappy and detailed, and you can tell Konami had a field day with this one.
1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time
Turtles in Time is bright, cartoony, hard, and ridiculously fun. You couldn’t ask for more from a cartoon-based beat ‘em up. Everyone’s got a favorite turtle, so pick one with a buddy and blast through Shredder’s minions in many time periods.
This game is a port from arcades, but actually comes with extra levels and content. Even though the sound and graphics are downgraded, many fans consider this the definitive version.