Growing up in the ’90s/early 2000s, most of my early games were licensed games. Remember when grandma didn’t know what you wanted for your birthday, but she knew you liked Nickelodeon? You usually got a licensed game and sometimes they were surprisingly great! Some of the time though they could be a bit rough, but you smile anyway because you love your grandma.

My first games for the Game Boy Color were The Rugrats Movie and Quest for Camelot. I played the crud out of both of them and looking back, the first one is very meh, but Quest of Camelot was pretty decent! It even came to the Nintendo Switch Online service recently which put a smile on my face. I compiled a list of five licensed retro games that were pretty good. 

The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle Series

Gameboy, NES

The original game for Game Boy

Kemco started this entertaining series with a Who Framed Roger Rabit game. However, when they wanted to release the game outside of Japan, they were too late because Rare already made a Who Framed Roger Rabit game (which will not be featured on this list, because yikes). Kemco then bought the rights to make Looney Tunes video games and did a quick sprite change. This series has so many different variants and sprite changes like Mickey Mouse, Garfield, Ghost Busters, and more.

Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle was the game I had and remembered as a kid. The gameplay is very simple, you have a set amount of items to collect in a level to move onto the next level. Usually, it is different keys to open doors. They play like a puzzle platforming game that involves some strategy of which route to take and how to defeat enemies with the limited amount of items in each level. This is such a great pickup-and-play series that I still find myself playing on my Analogue Pocket when that choice paralysis creeps its way in.



DuckTales box art

Besides having one of the best theme songs of any television show (yeah, I said it), DuckTales is also one of the best Nintendo games as well. Capcom was on their A-game back in the day when making Disney games and this is a prime example of that. Produced by some of the key teams of the Mega Man series, this game was destined for greatness.

You play as Scrooge McDuck, the money-hungry duck who is on a mission to travel the world and even outer space for treasure. Since the game is produced by many people from the Mega Man team, the game plays very similarly where you can pick the level you want to play and then fight a boss at the end of each level. The best part of the game is using Scrooge’s cane as a sort of pogo stick that will allow you to bounce off of objects and characters. It is very similar to how Shovel Knight uses his shovel in those games. Make sure to check out this great game for the Nintendo Entertainment System.



Animaniacs Box Art

Animaniacs released on the SNES, Genesis, and Game Boy. Just like most games at the time, the Genesis and SNES versions were very different. As a Nintendo kid, the SNES version is the one I grew up with playing and loving so that is the one I will focus on.

The Brain has stolen the film script for a new Warner Bros. film so the CEO must call on the help of 3 Warner Bros. siblings to save the day. You control all 3 of the siblings at the same time and can choose any level in any order. The graphics are great in this game and the sprite work is very well done. As you travel through the very different levels, you must try and collect pages of the script. Each sibling can be captured and then you will be left with the remaining ones. The game is very challenging, but also very fun as well.

The Simpsons: Hit & Run

GameCube, PS2, Xbox, PC

The Simpsons: Hit & Run Boxart

I remember the day I got The Simpsons: Hit & Run. It was Christmas morning and my sister and I were very interested in it. Little did we know, we would stay up all night taking turns playing the game. We didn’t even beat the game. We would just explore the world looking for secrets and listening to the different jokes and quotes from the show.

The Simpsons: Hit & Run is basically Grand Theft Auto but with The Simpsons instead. You take turns playing as Homer, Bart, Lisa, Marge, and even Abu! It is an open sandbox game where you can freely explore Springfield and surrounding areas. You can follow the story missions and side quests, or you can just go around driving and exploring. This is a great game I use still it as a benchmark on my devices to see how well they can handle GameCube.

GoldenEye 007


GoldenEye box art

We all knew this one would be making the list. GoldenEye is usually one of the first 3 games brought up when someone sees you have an N64 under your TV. “You have a Nintendo 64? Nice! Do you have Mario Kart? How about Mario Party? You have to have GoldenEye, right?”. There is reason for that too. This game holds such a special nostalgic place for so many people who grew up in this era. It also changed how the first-person shooter genre would be changed moving forward as well.

The story mode of the game is great, as you play through multiple levels with over 20 weapon options. Dual-wielding the Klobb was great. The true star for me though? The multiplayer. The 4-player split screen deathmatch was such a great experience as a kid. Fighting to get the golden gun and one-shotting all your friends except if they were screen-peeking. Also, can we talk about that pause menu music? It has no reason to go as hard as it does!

Are licensed games actually…good? Did we miss one of your childhood favorites? Let us know in the comments or on Discord. Don’t worry though, because I already have the ingredients brewing for a part 2 as well.  As always, thanks for dropping in!