Apple’s App Store and Google Play are the current home to most video games based on properties from film and other media. It gives IP owners like Disney an easier return on investment since modern living all but requires a Smartphone.

Mobile marketplaces are also typically more accepting of microtransactions as well, which means even more money. Through the eighties and well into the early aughts, film studios would typically throw money at a game adaptation that would release near the film’s premiere.

The games were often made in a short amount of time with all the importance being placed on the film itself. It’s nothing personal but that’s kind of the whole problem with business, I suppose. Things are rarely personal unless it hurts. 

Good games based on licensed properties from earlier eras absolutely exist. Many of the best remembered licensed games stick to tried and true formulas, like Disney’s Hercules, but there are others that chose to go a different direction entirely

Here are some of the weird video game adaptations that feel different and more personal than the usual licensed games.

Star Wars, Small Soldiers, and Other Weird Video Game Adaptations

Small Soldiers

This game actually sort of rules. Like any 3D PlayStation title, Small Soldiers absolutely has issues. It has some of the worst draw distance on Sony’s first console, especially considering the Small Soldiers game released in late 1998. 

Despite being an intensely average game, Small Soldiers is also incredibly fascinating. The decisions DreamWords Interactive made have stuck with me for over twenty years. The story and setting of Small Soldiers are what make it memorable.

The game’s levels take place across the homeworlds of the Gorgonites and Commando Elites. While the film itself is essentially just a violent Toy Story game with a Barbie scene that prompted questions for most millennials, the game adaptation takes a more bold approach. 

There isn’t a lot of story but it’s still interesting. Instead of featuring collectibles or lazy platforming segments, Small Soldiers features third-person combat in blurry, distant, science-fiction worlds. The game’s story is super light since lore probably wasn’t DreamWorks’ biggest priority when making the toy movie.

Also the game’s original music absolutely rules. If nothing else, check out the Small Soldiers soundtrack because it’s way better than it has any right to be

Cool Spot

I’ve witnessed the dude that owns my local games store run to the back of the store to secure free copies of Cool Spot for people purchasing a Super Nintendo more than once. I always hear him say, “No Super Nintendo owner should be without Cool Spot.”

Cool Spot is a more standard game but whatever, it’s awesome and it stars one of the coolest dudes in video games. The game’s chill levels and music are a total vibe. 

Cool Spot easily could have been a boring platformer starring the 7-Up mascot. Instead it tastes better than all flavors of pop. 

Smash Bros. literally doesn’t deserve Cool Spot. Put Waluigi in Cool Spot 2.

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace is a terrible game. It’s awful. I completely blame the publishing sidie because the game starts off pretty good. It feels like a deadline was shifted with little or no notice. 

I rented The Phantom Menace from Blockbuster as a child. I was in love at first. The game feels like a Star Wars game in the beginning, even attempting to emulate the film’s story. But things quickly take a left turn not long after the game’s first few sections. 

The game’s locations and story take some weird detours. Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace also has some of the worst voice acting I’ve ever heard in a video game

That being said, The Phantom Menace remains an interesting licensed game despite its poor quality. It’s clear the developers tried to tell a story with the resources they were given. And it’s certainly not a boring, cliche platformer

Pepsiman 

Pepsiman was helping people have a good time with snacks long before Sneak King, and it’s actually a pretty fun game. Though its legacy is mostly due to how ridiculous the game is, Pepsiman is an enjoyable runner that combines Crash Bandicoot gameplay with the flavors of Pepsi syrup. Mmm, good gameplay and spicy water. 

 

Related: 3 Dormant Video Game Franchises That Should Return