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Where Have the Z-List Film Tie-in Games Gone?

No licensed music, characters that look nothing like their film counterparts and stories that only slightly resemble the source material – tie-in games used to be things of beauty.


Alas, those days have gone. Development is harder than ever, taking years and years. Throwing together Hogwarts in six months is no longer an option.

It’s more than a little depressing. There’s an entire generation of children who’ll never buy the worst video games just because they recognize the face of the guy on the front.

More innocent times

Today you’re more likely to see tie-ins that aren’t really video games. Places like Energy Casino or other online outlets will offer up tie-ins more than your local video game shop.


The last proper Simpsons game came out in 2007, which is a crying shame. On the other hand, it’s been 20 years since Simpsons Wrestling, so I guess there’s swings and roundabouts to this problem. Nothing like a father hitting his children to shout “quality entertainment”.

Besides the problem of development costs and time, there’s been one major change since the turn of the century. Games are more legitimate now. You can’t toss out an ET-level game and expect anybody to buy it. There are too many great titles vying for your time.

In a way, I guess that’s good news. In another way it isn’t. If I had my way, the newly announced Indiana Jones title would be out by Christmas. Harrison Ford’s character would look like someone had chewed him up and spat him out, and the Nazis you beat up would have four – FOUR! – exciting phrases that they repeat sixty thousand times during your three hour play through.

Who should I contact at Lucasfilm?


What the children gain in not having to play rubbish titles, they lose in nostalgia. After finishing Mario 64, I’ve turned my attention to the first Harry Potter game on PS1. Yes, I’m doing it for the achievements.


I barely played this game when it came out, despite being the perfect age for it. I might have tried it out with friends, but it wasn’t something I rushed out to buy.

There’s about ten different versions of this game, all with completely unique mechanics and graphics. That’s not a thing that happens any more either.

But beyond the laughing at crappy controls and nightmare fuel characters, these titles all gave countless hours of entertainment to people around the globe. Kids don’t care if your Hagrid looks like a sex offender potato. They’ll enjoy the game anyway.

And, if I’m honest, the likes of Hercules and Bart’s Nightmare and all those dreadful games from the 90s probably made me more interested in gaming than if I hadn’t played them. Not just because they made the great games better by comparison, but because I played through them regardless of anything else. That’s an important lesson for anybody.


It’s not just a desire to see gaming go back to a simpler time. There’s something so very different in the industry today than it was when most of us were growing up. The passion is still there, but the businessmen have worked out how to make a profit.

Parents are happy to sit their kids in front of an iPad, letting them play ftp puzzlers or battle royale titles. And, alas, those games are reaping in billions. Even Sony and Microsoft are making more from micro transactions than from games sales.

It’s going to be interesting to see what games these kids play when they hit their teenage years and beyond. If the worst comes to the worse, and developers just start making Fortnite clones, at least we can always boot up an emulator and check in with potato Hagrid and the lads.


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blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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