Launching in the early '70s, Nickelodeon is synonymous with cartoons and children entertainment. As a subsidiary of Warner Cable and Viacom, the network needed more than a decade to capture a hold of its target audience, although Nickelodeon ruled the '90s! After years of delivering an underwhelming lineup filled with shows like Double Dare, the channel took a risk and ventured into the animation business. On August 11, 1991, Nickelodeon debuted Doug, The Ren & Stimpy Show, and Rugrats, a business decision which proved to be rather lucrative. An argument can be made that Nickelodeon peaked with its initial output, but the channel has frequently pushed the envelope. Avatar: The Last Airbender ranks among the pinnacle of Western Animation, while Spongebob Squarepants is a gravy train rivaling the likes of The Simpsons and Family Guy. Unfortunately, comparisons do not end there...
With success comes the urge to earn even more cash, so Nickelodeon turned to the gaming industry. Licensed games are the bane of any gamer's existence, but the practice has birthed a couple of gems. While the bad tends to overshadow the good, Nicktoons has proven to be a reliable source for lively beat 'em ups or 3D platformers. Admittedly, pretty much none of these upcoming entries are worth playing for anyone who does not adore the source material, but a handful of releases are better than the average licensed game. Conversely, the worst border on insulting!
Here are the 15 best Nickelodeon games (and 15 that are hilariously bad)!
28 Best: The Legend Of Korra
Developed by PlatinumGames, The Legend of Korra arrives with far more pedigree than the majority of the best and worst Nickelodeon games. As a result, this hack and slash adventure title may be the most disappointing entry in this list; nevertheless, The Legend of Korra sits head and shoulders above the rest. PlatinumGames' B-team tends to handle any licensed games, and the mechanics feel like a rehash of some of the studio's greatest hits. The Legend of Korra is a mediocre version of Bayonetta, but fans should appreciate being able to bend like the Avatar.
27 Worst: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Everybody's favorite reptiles have amassed their fair share of laughably bad games, and Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fails to be an exception. Available on the 3DS, this lackluster beat 'em up hardly does the bare minimum to qualify as a full game. While the campaign is gratefully on the short side, its combat gets so mind-numbingly repetitive, the four hours feel like they last for years. Visually, Magic Pockets did a decent enough job of aping the cartoon, but this will only entertain the youngest of fans.
26 Best: Rugrats: Search For Reptar
Alongside Doug and The Ren & Stimpy Show, Rugrats established Nickelodeon as a creator rather than merely a network. A PlayStation exclusive, Rugrats: Search for Reptar pays loving homage to the influential series. As a 3D platformer, n-Space stuck to the basics, but Search for Reptar served as a suitable entry point for budding gamers seeking to dip their toes. Critics were largely positive at the time, while Activision shipped enough copies to land among the PlayStation's best-selling games. Children deserve experiences that are tailor-made for them, but studios should put the same amount of effort into these projects.
25 Worst: Nickelodeon Party Blast
If a mash-up worked for Nintendo, there is no reason that Nickelodeon cannot do the same! While fun with friends, Mario Party lacks personality and ranks among the plumber's inferior spin-off franchises. Nickelodeon Party Blast makes Mario Party Advance seem like Mario Party 3, and that is a disservice to the forgettable Game Boy Advance release. Ugly and unresponsive, this cheap clone offers nothing in the way of enjoyment or originality. At best, Nickelodeon Party Blast might be worth playing for a laugh, but time can be spent on better "bad" games.
24 Best: Danny Phantom: Urban Jungle
We will accept any excuse to praise Danny Phantom, and Urban Jungle is as good as any. Based on the episode with the same name, Altron published a Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS versions, with both offering a decent enough experience. While stuck on the weaker hardware, the former is arguably the more impressive of the two, as the visuals are absolutely incredible for the outdated handheld console. As a side-scroller, the Game Boy Advance variant incorporates a touch more variety than the Nintendo DS's shooter mechanics. Either way, Nickelodeon Danny Phantom: Urban Jungle delivers the goods.
23 Worst: Drake & Josh: Talent Showdown
Nickelodeon's live-action sitcoms have always been rather inconsistent, but Drake & Josh never failed to put a smile on our faces. When put alongside some of the other "worst" games, Drake & Josh: Talent Showdown fares relatively well. If nothing else, the gameplay is not broken and the graphics are surprisingly nice; nevertheless, THQ only seem to possess a passing understanding of the license! The lovable brothers may as well be substituted with two random joes since the end result would be the same. Furthermore, the story is just one extensive fetch quest.
22 Best: Globs Of Doom
Seriously, who decided SpongeBob SquarePants featuring Nicktoons: Globs of Doom was the perfect title? How did they even fit all those syllables on the box cover? Pushing past the ludicrous name, Globs of Doom is a moderately competent beat 'em up with some light platforming. Besides the titular sponge, four other shows are represented, including Invader Zim and Danny Phantom. Due to an intrusive camera and a stagnant combat system, Globs of Doom can be a chore to play, but the levels and environments do a decent job of recreating backdrops from their respective series.
21 Worst: Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius
With a couple of exceptions, early 3D platformers have aged worse than Driving Miss Daisy or the vast majority of the '90s flicks dealing with the internet. Jimmy Neutron:@ Boy Genius came out in 2002, so it really has no excuse for playing so poorly. Due to the cartoon's general aesthetic, the visuals lend themselves well to Jimmy Neutron's universe, but the shoddy controls and fixed camera hurt the overall package. Just to be crystal clear, we are referring to the GameCube and PlayStation 2 versions, as Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius was pretty decent on the Game Boy Advance.
20 Best: The Fairly OddParents: Shadow Showdown
If a licensed game genuinely feels like it exists within the source's world, then we can say that the studio did okay. As a 3D platformer, The Fairly OddParents: Shadow Showdown apes nearly every popular release in existence, although the title rarely improves upon anything. While the painful absence of any experimentation or innovation is annoying, Shadow Showdown's levels are stripped right out of the cartoon! While the game fails to capture the eccentric whimsy of Timmy Turner's wishes, children should enjoy traversing the Fairy World.
19 Worst: Aaahh!!! Real Monsters
Published towards the end of Super NES' run, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters is based on a relatively overlooked Nickelodeon cartoon that attempted to hitch a ride on The Ren & Stimpy Show's hype train. Available on a console which was overstuffed with arcadey platformers, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters is a lackluster fare, to say the least. Allowing players to switch between three unique characters, this mechanic should have led to the creation of some interesting puzzles, but the game is rather dull. Crucially, the controls are stiff and unpleasant, which is a huge problem for any 2D platformer.
18 Best: Ren & Stimpy: Stimpy's Invention
Try as they might, there is no beating the original! Sadly, this rule extends to Ren & Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon." Published on the Sega Mega Drive, Ren & Stimpy: Stimpy's Invention is an entertaining 2D action platformer designed around cooperative play. If friends are not an option, the gamer can switch between the irreverent titular characters on the fly, and numerous special moves can be performed by combining Ren and Stimpy's abilities. With a robust amount of two-player attacks to employ, this mechanic elevates Ren & Stimpy: Stimpy's Invention from a by-the-numbers platformer to something special. Honestly, BlueSky Software's title may be the only entry deserving of attention from non-fans.
17 Worst: Rocko's Modern Life: Spunky's Dangerous Day
Rocko's Modern Life came the closest to matching The Ren & Stimpy Show's brilliance; unfortunately, the same cannot be said for this rushed Super NES platformer. To give credit where credit is due, the vivid graphics get the most out of Nintendo's 16-bit console, but the praise stops there. Essentially, Rocko's Modern Life: Spunky's Dangerous Day is a 2D escort mission that sees Rocko trying desperately to protect Spunky from an array of monsters. In the cartoon, the dog is on the stupid side, but this Spunky seems to be purposely chasing a premature grave!
16 Best: Rocket Power: Beach Bandits
Passionately clutching to the fading extreme craze in a way that ventured on parody, Rocket Power centered around a group of cool kids and their love for dangerous sports. Salvinating at the prospect of owning a slice of that Tony Hawk's Pro Skater pie, THQ teamed up with Nickelodeon to publish Rocket Power: Beach Bandits. As a mildly entertaining adventure game with a couple of extreme sports mini-games, this 2002 throwaway is perfectly adequate for children. Pleasing on the eyes and simple enough to play, Rocket Power: Beach Bandits does the basics right. Ye, that is some XTREME praise!
15 Worst: Hey Arnold!: The Movie
Building on the movie's (lack of) success, Altron earns points for resisting the urge to go with Hey Arnold!: The Movie: The Video Game as the name. Capturing the spirit of its source material, this Game Boy Advance platformer is all style and no substance. Frankly, the detailed and colorful graphics are too good for this otherwise bare-bones package, one that wears thin after just a couple of levels. With five worlds and 20 levels to explore, Hey Arnold!: The Movie looks the part but falls short in nearly every other department.
14 Best: Nickelodeon Fit
Nickelodeon Fit is an exercise game designed for the junior members of the family. The genre is hardly known for pushing the envelope, but it is rare to find an example which targets children. Featuring characters from cartoons like Go Diego Go and Dora the Explorer, High Voltage Software put together a harmless set of mini-games capable of entertaining most rugrats. The Wii coincided with the golden era of exercise games, and Nickelodeon Fit deserves to be mentioned with the likes of Zumba: Zumba Fitness 2 and Pilates: Daisy Fuentes Pilates. If nothing else, at least, the game's title is not redundant...
13 Worst: Avatar: The Last Airbender – Into the Inferno
Regardless of the cartoon's awesomeness, Avatar: The Last Airbender's adaptations have largely failed to cut the mustard. At this point, we would welcome a Dynasty Warriors clone set in Nickelodeon's series! Avatar: The Last Airbender – Into the Inferno wins the prize for the most trivial entry in this list. While nothing is really surprising or broken, the lack of effort radiates out of every frame. Each gameplay mechanics feels tired and mundane, leading to an experience best described as mind-numbing. Avatar: The Last Airbender deserves better than a cheap action-adventure snoozefest!
12 Best: Dora the Explorer: Journey To The Purple Planet
When going into any event, expectations play a huge part in defining the lasting emotions associated with the experience. Based on an educational cartoon about a plucky adventurer, Dora the Explorer: Journey To The Purple Planet is about as basic of an action-adventure game as they came. In order to power a rocket, players control Dora as she tries to collect a bunch of gems. Anyone over the age of eight will probably fall asleep after half-an-hour, but Monkey Bars Games was not aiming for a wide audience. Besides teaching a lesson or two, Dora the Explorer: Journey To The Purple Planet is more than solid for what it is trying to be.
11 Worst: Dora Saves The Snow Princess
Context may be important when discussing any subject, but entertainment projects should not get a pass simply because they were created for children. As with any genre, educational games are not all born equal, and Dora the Explorer: Dora Saves the Snow Princess is a testament to this fact. Flat, boring, and barely teaching anything; this platformer should be played by budding developers, as it serves as a prime example of what not to do! Repetition is a fundamental element of any game, but this should not be confused with a lack of progression. Dora the Explorer: Dora Saves the Snow Princess reveals its full hand within the first level.
10 Best: Nicktoons Racing
Time for another Nintendo clone! Thankfully, this one fares better than Nintendo Party Blast. During the fifth generation, go-kart racers gained a reputation as the next big gimmick, so any company with a recognizable roster of mascots set out to mimic Mario Kart. Even though Nicktoons Racing struggles when contrasted to Crash Team Racing or any entries in Nintendo's franchise, this racer was more than acceptable. Putting aside the apparently poor Game Boy Color version, Nicktoons Racing merited a look from fans with a PlayStation or Game Boy Advance.
9 Worst: iCarly
Victorious launched the career of Ariana Grande and Victoria Justice, but iCarly was Nickelodeon's last truly massive sitcom. Apparently, the timely comedy warranted its own party game for the Wii, but fans might wonder what they did to deserve such a cruel and unusual punishment. iCarly's only saving grace is the option to create personal webisodes, which is useful for anyone who does not have access to YouTube. Otherwise, this is a laughable adaptation that fails to do accurately represent Nickelodeon's popular series.
8 Best: Rugrats In Paris: The Movie
If a cartoon about babies can sustain its popularity for over a decade, developers should be able to forge a couple of acceptable spin-0ffs. Based on the film with the same name, Rugrats in Paris: The Movie splits the story into 16 levels and enables fans to pick from six beloved characters. Admittedly, the gameplay largely consists of a variety of mini-games, but they are enjoyable enough for the target audience. Packed with references to the source material and a decent amount of content, Rugrats in Paris: The Movie fares better than most of its contemporaries...
7 Worst: Rugrats: Royal Ransom
By 2002, Rugrats' formula was starting to wear thin. Developed by Avalanche Software and published on the PlayStation 2, Rugrats: Royal Ransom is another collection of mini-games pretending to be an action platformer. Just to be fair, this is a step above nearly every other "worst" entry; nevertheless, there is little reason to choose this one over any of the previous Rugrats spin-offs. Nothing is truly improved upon, while the level design is a tad more confusing than the babies' previous adventures.
6 Best: Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events
For a 2004 release, the visuals are impressive and capture the film's aesthetic. In terms of gameplay, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events is a surprisingly varied affair, combining platforming, puzzles, and third-person shooter elements. Even though all the ports received warm receptions, critics deemed the handheld versions to be a step above the rest. Unfortunately, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events lasts for only five hours and there is little incentive for a second playthrough. Still, it was fun while it lasted!
5 Worst: iCarly 2: iJoin The Click!
If you fail the first time, try and try again! We would love to say that iCarly 2: iJoin the Click! is the gaming industry's equivalent of Ouija: Origin of Evil, but this sequel might actually be worse than the original! This time around, players step into the shoes of a new Ridgeway student, who befriends the popular internet celebrities and refuses to leave their side. Obviously, the bare-bones story is just an excuse to partake in a number of paper-thin minigames that barely suffice as distractions. Just to cover all its basis, Activision published iCarly 2: iJoin the Click! on the Wii and Nintendo DS.
4 Best: Tak And The Power Of Juju
Unlike every other entry on this list, Tak And The Power Of Juju's video game predates Nickelodeon's series by four years. Technically, Avalanche Software's delightful action-platformer is not based on a TV series, but it proved popular enough to warrant four sequels and an underwhelming cartoon. The PlayStation 2 was arguably the last golden era for 3D platformers, so Tak and the Power of Juju needed to be something special to stand out from the crowd. Luckily, this colorful package offers an impressive amount of depth!
3 Worst: El Tigre: The Adventures Of Manny Rivera
El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera comes in two flavors: PlayStation orange and Nintendo lemon. While the former is rather sweet, the latter is bitter and only works in small doses. Available on the Nintendo DS, El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera is a 2D beat 'em up that fails to introduce any combos beyond the default options. Apparently, Nicktoons cannot get enough of this genre, but barely any of them seem to comprehend what makes one of these titles fun to play. We can make due without complexity, but try to spice things up with a couple of different animations.
2 Best: The Legend Of Korra: A New Era Begins
Wait, there was a second The Legend of Korra game? Released just a weak after PlatinumGames' alternative, Webfoot Technologies' SRPG was completely overlooked by critics. Sharing a ton of similarities with Fire Emblem, The Legend of Korra: A New Era Begins is the better of the two games based on the series, although the action is nowhere near as flashy. Centering around a grid-based system that offers a satisfactory level of depth, there are definitely worse license games out there. Admittedly, The Legend of Korra: A New Era Begins feels like something of an afterthought.
1 Worst: The Last Airbender
In contrast to the source material, The Last Airbender is nothing short of a masterpiece! In all seriousness, THQ's movie tie-in does precious little to break away from the pattern of inadequate Avatar: The Last Airbender licensed games. The Wii version garnered the most hate, with critics lambasting the poor controls and infuriating lack of a block mechanic. Apparently, the Avatar can control the four elements, but the air temple skipped out on basic self-defense. While better than one of the worst movies in recent memory, The Last Airbender still blows hot air.