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Licensed NES games that could pass for Unlicensed


Koopa64
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Over the years I’ve seen the general consensus around unlicensed games being that they’re of low quality. Maybe not Tengen or Camerica but definitely Color Dreams and most of the smaller outfits for sure, according to most people. Games licensed by Nintendo are often thought to be of great quality but of course, we all know that’s the case. 
 

So are there licensed NES games that you feel could pass for that unlicensed cheapness? 
 

This question is not a roundabout way of saying “which licensed NES games are crap”, I’m asking about that unlicensed feel. We all know it, sometimes it’s hard to describe. Are there licensed nes games that feel on part with wisdom tree and color dreams games? Or Camerica? 

Edited by Koopa64
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I'll throw my hat in the ring for The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends

The music alone sounds like how a confused alien would relay earth music to his alien friends, upon returning from his intergalactic trip.

And that's not even touching upon the MS Paint art style and broken gameplay.

Edited by ifightdragons
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2 hours ago, ifightdragons said:

I'll throw my hat in the ring for The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends

Pretty much most of THQ's output. Their best game is maybe James Bond Jr., and that's not saying much. Rocky and Bullwinkle is definitely one that Color Dreams could have made, what with the weird disembodied sprite work and lack of gameplay depth. Wayne's World, too.

Some of Mindscape's stuff lacks polish, like Conan, or is just about broken, like The Last Starfighter (God, I hate that game.) Both of those are C64 ports.

I think some of the early third party stuff was a bit rough, as they were still feeling out the system. Maybe not quite Color Dreams level, but knocking on the door.

Only one from LJN IMO would be the X-Men game. 

 

 

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Narc always felt that way to me. It's not that it's necessarily low quality, but rather it's the content that seems like it should not have gotten through Nintendo's approval process. 

You are literally walking around not at all subtle depictions of drug houses and sex shops. And for some reason it feels more violent than a normal NES game. Probably because they give you the option of arresting the drug dealers if you want, but also the option to just murder them all in the street.

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18 hours ago, cj_robot said:

Narc always felt that way to me. It's not that it's necessarily low quality, but rather it's the content that seems like it should not have gotten through Nintendo's approval process. 

You are literally walking around not at all subtle depictions of drug houses and sex shops. And for some reason it feels more violent than a normal NES game. Probably because they give you the option of arresting the drug dealers if you want, but also the option to just murder them all in the street.

That is an excellent choice, NARC is definitely a game that should have been toned down by the NOA censors, yet strangely was not. The game itself also really does have that Color Dreams feel. 
 

Maybe NOA was too busy ripping apart Maniac Mansion to notice or care. 

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2 hours ago, fcgamer said:

The license and seal of quality are the biggest lies in terms of Nintendo and its mythology - it was never about quality, it was all about money and control. 

This. It's probably one of the most often cited myths by retro enthusiasts on YouTube and various forums.

The "Nintendo Seal of Quality" had the purpose of, like you said, exercise control over who could publish on the platform.

What it meant in practice for the consumer was nothing more than: This game has likely been tested to work on an NES/Famicom, and will not result in damage to the console. It had absolutely nothing to do with quality of the content itself.

It also helped a little bit in mitigating the amount of shovelware on the console, though only to some extent. I'm sure many people on here with deeper knowledge can elaborate on how third party developers just registered subsidiary publishing shells to circumvent the strict licensing rules enforced by Nintendo.

This is of course preaching to the choir on a site like VGS, but it's always a good thing to repeat oft-ignored truths.
If nothing else, someone will google the terms Nintendo + Seal of Quality, and end up on this very thread.

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Swamp Thing is one i had about a decade back that comes to mind.  Control is stiff and not good, I think it was kind of hard to attack in stages where you wouldn't just take a likely hit too.  It just didn't have good gameplay, flow, or mechanics much like a lot of shoddy unlicensed or poorly done homebrew titles.  I can't say much nicer about Attack of the Killer Tomatoes either other than they nailed it in making something as terrible as the movie was terrible.

I know largely people will try and dump on THQ and LJN, but some stuff stands out even among their ranks are grade A garbage, and largely THQ in house made their crap so there was less redemption possible.  Back in the day THQ to me stuff for Total Horrible Quality long before there was an internet to gang up on those turd farmers.

Not that LJN gets a pass, Karate Kid and Back to the Future...really?  At least LJN had some good games like the WWF stuff and a few others.  No surprise though when contracting Atlus, Rare and Westone for the good ones. 😄

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On 11/1/2021 at 12:04 PM, fcgamer said:

Videomation. It was *unlicensed* on Famicom, though the publishers had the official rights to publish it.

The license and seal of quality are the biggest lies in terms of Nintendo and its mythology - it was never about quality, it was all about money and control. 

No sir, I always look for the Official Seal of Quality to ensure complete compatibility with my Nintendo products. 😄   As well as to make sure it has the Nintendo guarantee of excellence of workmanship, reliability, and of course entertainment value.

gallery-24273-245-304007.large.jpg

PS: Hee hee I'm not really a Nintendo yes-man fanboy but I can sure pretend to be one pretty good 😄 

Edited by Estil
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16 hours ago, MegaMan52 said:

Aladdin and The Lion King. There are bootleg versions of those games that are better quality than the official NES versions.

 

 

 

These games feel literally ripped straight off a Chinese bootleg! Lion King ends on a randomly halfway through the SNES version of the game. It doesn't even have a proper ending. It's sooo bad.

Edited by DefaultGen
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Yeah, I think most people who still play them today do so out of nostalgia, or the fact that you can play as the real WWF wrestlers. Otherwise, Pro Wrestling and Tecmo World Wrestling blow them out of the water. Even the WCW one is better.

LJN to me was always a middle of the road publisher. It wasn't Konami, but it wasn't THQ. More in line with Bandai, Mindscape, Data East, or its later owner, Acclaim. Some good games, some awful games, some okay games.

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  • 1 month later...
On 10/31/2021 at 5:03 PM, Tulpa said:

Pretty much most of THQ's output. Their best game is maybe James Bond Jr., and that's not saying much. Rocky and Bullwinkle is definitely one that Color Dreams could have made, what with the weird disembodied sprite work and lack of gameplay depth. Wayne's World, too.

Some of Mindscape's stuff lacks polish, like Conan, or is just about broken, like The Last Starfighter (God, I hate that game.) Both of those are C64 ports.

I think some of the early third party stuff was a bit rough, as they were still feeling out the system. Maybe not quite Color Dreams level, but knocking on the door.

Only one from LJN IMO would be the X-Men game. 

 

 

Ha! I was just talking about THQ on the NES with a buddy. For some reason Rocky and Bullwinkle always stood out; late '92 release.

Edited by NostalgicMachine
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