Top 10 Favorite LJN Games
Woodyman counts down his top 10 favorite LJN games.
Originally posted on www.1MoreCastle.com
Thanks to a certain Angry Video Game Nerd, the game publishing company LJN has become synonymous with terrible video games. Does LJN deserve the reputation and hatred directed towards them? Absolutely! Some of the LJN games are putrid piles of puke that should have never seen the light of day. Other games aren’t so bad.
If you don’t know LJN is a toy company and video game publisher. Before we begin I’d like to state for the record that LJN did not develop ANY video game. They often did not reveal the name of the developer for any of the games, but NONE were developed by LJN, so they’re not 100% to blame.
That’s why this list is called the Top 10 Favorite LJN Games and not the Top 10 Best LJN Games. I can’t really call any of these games the best, but they aren’t as bad as some other LJN games.
10.) Gotcha! The Sport! (NES)
Gotcha! The Sport! is one of the many NES games to appear on this list. In addition, this game is unique by LJN standards because it is not based off of the film or television series. Instead the game was based off of, and used to sell paintball guns.
Gotcha! The Sport! is a paintball simulation light gun game. The goal of each levelis to make it to the end of the stage, shoot baddies, and capture their flag (by shooting it.) Once you make your way through the three levels they repeat over and over. Each time the levels loop the reaction time you need to shoot the bad guys gets shorter and shorter. BANG! Oh… you’re dead.
The one thing that makes this game different and tougher than most light-gun games is that you have control over your character. You use one hand to hold the controller and use the d-pad to move, then use you’re other hand to shoot. It makes the game feel like there is more strategy and control. This is a game that’s difficult at first but once you get used to the controls and get precise aim it’s a fun light gun game.
9.) The Karate Kid (NES)
The Karate Kid lives on in infamy as one of the first games ever reviewed by the Angry Video Game Nerd. It is loosely based off of the second Karate Kid movie. It starts off with our hero, Daniel-san kicking ass at the karate tournament. This part isn’t so bad, but most gamers’ criticisms come from the next 3 levels. The object of the game is to walk across the level and punch baddies, this culminates with a boss battle. You can get powerups throughout the level or complete bonus areas (dodge a swinging hammer, catch flies with chopsticks, etc…) that allow Daniel to perform Crane Kicks or Drum Punches.
This game is loathed by gamers because it’s tough and unfair. Every hit knocks you back, there are numerous pits to fall into, and the third lever takes place during typhoon that pushes you back and enemies into you. Don’t get me wrong, this game really is tough and frustrating but it’s not terrible. Despite the unfair difficulty the game isn’t impossible. It can even be somewhat fun at times, especially during the first and second level. It’s a poorly made version of Kung-Fu but my ninth favorite LJN game.
8.) Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage (SNES)
The odd thing about this list is that there are no LJN games I’d say are great. The goal of this list is to find games that aren’t terrible. That is exactly what Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage is. It’s a mediocre beat-em-up.
In the game and story, Carnage is about to be imprisoned when he breaks free and kills all the guards. He then runs amok in the city with his “family” of super villains. Spider-Man and Venom both try to stop Carnage individually, but fail. They decide to team up and stop Carnage, but both are doing it for very different reasons. They’re aided by some other heroes to stop Carnage and his “family”, and there’s much more to the story. I recommend reading the comic, it’s quite interesting. I wish I could say the same about the game, but it’s just okay.
You start the game as Spider-Man, but soon get to play as Venom. Venom is strong but slow, and Spider-Man is average hitter with increased speed. You go through a level, beat up generic bad guys, and then fight a boss. Rinse and repeat. The gameplay is broken up a bit with a climbing level and assists from other heroes, but besides that the game gets boring fast. There’s not much special about the game, but it’s not terrible and that’s good enough for us!
7.) A Nightmare on Elm Street (NES)
This game gets so much undeserved hate. I assume because it is another game the Angry Video Game Nerd reviewed, and he hated it.
There’s a rumor that the game was originally going to let you play as Freddy and that you’d go around killing teenagers. They decided to change it though to avoid controversy. Instead you play as a teenager on Elm Street who is on a mission to find all of Freddy’s bones and burn them in a furnace. Throughout the game you’ll fight numerous horror clichés such as skeletons, ghosts, bats, and more with your fists! Because what better way to kill a ghost than punch it in the face? You have to then enter various buildings, find all the bones, and then fight a body part of Freddy such as a disembodied claw or head.
This game is often hated because it’s compared to Castlevania II. Once you find out where to go, A Nightmare on Elm Street transforms into a normal NES platforming beat-em-up game. There are a few unique twists in this game that I really enjoy. First off the game features a sleep meter. When you stand still or take damage your sleep meter depletes. When fully depleted, your character enters “Dream World” where enemies change, and are tougher to defeat. However, you can transform into dream characters with special abilities and get powerups. The other great feature is that this game allows for four players to play simultaneously. Very few NES games allow that, and this is one, so it can’t be all bad.
6.) Jaws (NES)
Jaws is a simple game. However, how would you make a game about a killer shark in a beach community and 3 men trying to hunt it? (Although, If you want a great Jaws game, then play Jaws Unleashed for the Playstation 2, X-Box and more).
The goal of the game is to kill Jaws. However you’re not powerful enough to kill Jaws at the beginning of the game. Therefore, you must traverse across the ocean to the only two ports in the entire world. Once at the port you can increase your strength, but only if you have enough conch shells that you collect from killing baby Jaws, jellyfish, and rays. I just realized how stupid that sounds.
Basically this entire game is similar to grinding in an RPG. You need to kill a boss (Jaws) but cannot at your current level. So instead you traverse the land, fighting weaker enemies until you are strong enough to beat the game. There is a bonus game where you control a plane for a bit, and you can even control an orange submarine equipped with torpedoes and depth charges for a bit.
NES games don’t always have to be complex and Jaws isn’t. It reminds me of an Atari 2600 game. The goal is simple, but there is enough padding to give you a good amount of entertainment.
5.) Town & Country Surf Designs: Wood & Water Rage (NES)
Town & Country Surf Designs: Wood & Water Rage or for sake of shortness T&C Surf Designs was one of the many sports games published by LJN. This game was used to promote the mascot of Town & Country Surf Designs, known as “Da Boys” such as Joe Cool, Tiki Man, Kool Kat, and Thrilla Gorilla.
Once again this was a very meh game. The surfing was extremely difficult due to the controls and everything you did seemed to result in death. The skateboarding was quite fun though. You were able to grind, jump over immense potholes, and rack up a high score while avoiding cars driven by no one and baseballs that came out of nowhere.
I know when I was a kid I could never figure out how the surfing worked, and that’s why this game isn’t any higher. It’s half a good game… too bad they could never figure out the other half.
4.) The Punisher (NES)
If you want to play a great Punisher game then play The Punisher for Arcade or SEGA Genesis. If you want to play a mediocre Punisher game then play the 1990’s NES Game.
The Punisher for the NES is an 8-bit shooter. This is another game that’s simple in design but very fun to play. In The Punisher, you control Frank Castle aka The Punisher and your job is to shoot shit up! Literally, that is all you do. You use the crosshairs to shoot random thugs and super villains. You can shoot the background and innocent civilians as well, but it’s frowned upon. The final boss of the game is the Marvel villain, Kingpin and he is impossible to beat.
I think the reason I like this game so much is that it reminds me of the glory days of the arcades. The Punisher reminds me of the simple arcade shooters such as Area 51 and House of the Dead. The goal was to just shoot everything in sight, and there was nothing wrong with that. It’s mind-numbing, but playable and fun. Which is probably why the next game in on this list.
3.) T2: The Arcade Game (SNES)
T2: The Arcade Game is everything The Punisher was, but better. T2: The Arcade Game was a home console port of the Arcade classic. The cabinet in the arcades had one of the coolest controllers ever, but unfortunately the home console versions didn’t come with a big ass machine gun.
In this game you play as The Terminator, who has already been reprogrammed by the Human Resistance. Your goal is to protect the Conners. How do you protect them? By shooting up every other Terminator, robot, and Skynet lackey you see! Just shoot them all.
I love this game for the same reason I love The Punisher, it reminds me of the Arcade. I remember playing this game in the Arcade and while the home console ports weren’t as good, they still captured the explosions, destruction, and nostalgia that I felt in those days. Nowadays, arcades are few and far between so to recapture my childhood sometimes all it takes is a few minutes with T2: The Arcade Game in my SNES.
2.) The Incredible Crash Test Dummies (NES)
The Incredible Crash Test Dummies is one of the strangest licences to ever receive a video game release. In fact it won an award just for that from EGM. The game is based on the actual crash test dummies that warned people about the dangers of not wearing a seatbelt.
The game was published and ported to numerous systems, but the one I’m familiar with is for the NES. The game featured great music but more importantly, great gameplay. You take control of the dummy, Slick. Slick is on a quest to defeat the Junkman, but none of that really matters. Instead you play as Slick who rolls through each level collecting safety cones and avoiding obstacles. If you take damage Slick will lose a body part until they’re all gone.
The game is great because it’s a solid platformer. Unlike so many other LJN games, there are no glaring bugs or control issues that ruin the experience. This is not just a good game by LJN standards. It’s a good game compared to the entire NES library.
1.) Alien 3 (SNES)
Alien 3 has to be one of my favorite games I ever rented for the SNES. Now I’m not too familiar with the Alien lore, so excuse me if I make a mistake.
In this game you play as Ripley. The game loosely follows the third Alien movie by the same name but when I was a kid I had no idea about any of this. Instead I saw a game with a control style similar to the Contra series where I got to use a multitude of weaponry to kill Xenomorphs, Face-Huggers, and even more alien types.
Alien 3 is my favorite LJN game because it has character, and it tried to be a gaming gem. The game perfectly captures the feeling of the Alien movies as you slowly go through the dimly lit corridors you fear for your life because an alien can pop out of the shadows at any moment. There are numerous lighting effects due to the scenery and weaponry (flamethrower FTW) that just add to the atmosphere of the game. Not to mention the creepy music.
Besides the atmosphere, the gameplay is fun. There are missions that don’t just require going from point A to point B and killing everything in between. There are also waves of enemies and bosses that mirror the film. It’s a game based on a movie, published by LJN that is actually good… I never thought I’d see the day.
So before you join the bandwagon of LJN haters try to keep a few things in mind, Please remember that LJN didn’t design any of the games they published and that not all LJN games are terrible. Just most of them. ^_^
T2 arcade i still play it to this day it great
Maximum Carnage might be my favorite retro beat'em up. I was a huge Spider-Man fan back then and that game really made the how experience spring to life.
Also Nightmare on Elm Street isn't as bad as the Nerd made it out to be. I actually did a 28th Anniversary stream to the original movie last year and managed to complete it in one sitting. Outside of some iffy hit detection on the Necromancer character, it is a solid platformer with a soundtrack that REALLY surprised me.
I'll be honest, I really enjoyed Maximum Carnage.
Only one of those that I liked was T&C Surf Desings, I used to play that game all the time!
My god I must have Deja Vu as I remember this on 1 More Castle... Whow I must have Deja Vu as I remember reading this.
Good list, even bad companies have some gems that should not be overlooked because of the companies history. If that makes an sense too you.
You want to play a great Punisher game play the PS2/Xbox version by THQ. Awesome game, where you get to torture and brutally murder criminals and terrorists.
What can I say? I got balls.
Come on, where's your team spirit? NO MAN LEFT BEHIND.
But sooo good.
That part was very tough, but beatable.
I hated Terminator 2 Arcade for the SNES. Whenever I got to the part where you need to protect the truck I died almost immediately and it was like the 2nd level. The other one was better and almost fun if it wasnt for those driving stages where you had no idea where to go and everyone rammed into you.
I have LJN´s Terminator 2 for the NES and i love it still today. A great game mixed with platforming and action beat em up.
I've only played three games on this list. Jaws, T2, and Alien 3. Jaws was super boring. I beat it once and felt like an idiot watching the plane fly away. T2 is actually pretty cool. It's not like the arcade, yeah, but it passes. It's just super hard imo. Playing with the super scope is pretty fun for shits and pretending to be rambo. Alien 3 is the one I hate the most because I can never get into it and in the 10 years I've owned it, Ive played it three times.
Maximum Carnage was so hard.
Good list quite a few of these titles are pretty enjoyable.
I played Nightmare on Elm Street way too much when I was a kid. I never actually finished the game though. The high school was always my demise. That or playing with one, two or especially 3 other people. Why is it that multiplayer platformers back then used the slowest person as the screen anchor? Didn't they know that whoever is trailing the pack is the worst player and THEY are the ones that should die, not the leader of the group that misses a jump because some ass hat doesn't know right from left on a D-pad! Ok, done ranting now. Good list Woody, and good times.
MAximum Carnage is one of my favorites SNES Games. Really fun and got me into Carnage as a character.
Jaws has a soft spot in my heart because I beat it when I was like 9 years old or so. It was very exciting for me when I was 9 and while it doesn't age well, I still love it ^_^
Oh I love maximum carnage!!
It takes moxy to compose a list praising LJN games. I was a bit surprised when I saw this blog as it is just not something you expect to see. However, now that I've read it I came to the decision that some of their games weren't as bad as everyone makes them out to be. A nice read, and thanks for the trip down memory lane.