Player 2: Marvel
With the titanic Arkham series, it’s fair to say that in the DC versus Marvel battle for pop culture – the former has been more successful in the field of video games. There are bloopers and the publisher’s marquee character Superman is always going to be a challenge.
But this isn’t about DC, instead its about the Marvel tie-in video games.
X Gon’ Give It to Ya
Capcom’s X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse released in the mid-nineties, was a must own title on the SNES. With strong visuals and successfully applying side-scrolling beat ’em up action to probably the best incarnation of the mutants, the animated series. Don’t believe me, why not check it out on any of the multiple online emulators.
Much mired and the death knell of Silicon Knights, most slammed the publisher’s take on Marvel’s mutants X-Men: Destiny. As with other Silicon Knights titles, the game was mired by shonky execution, with wonky visuals and gameplay. Strangely, unsold copies of this title and other games produced using the Unreal Engine 3 is subject to a global recall.
I do have a soft spot for this widely regarded abomination amongst X-men games. Unlike other X-men games it has a USP, as per Game Informer review, the game allows you to create a mutant and join Xavier’s team, or… The Brotherhood of Mutants. Whilst, this character creation is actually quite limited, it was a first and something which chimes with the ethos of the X-men franchise.
Most important for playing any X-men, is co-op. This was in the aforementioned titles and important in realising the world of X-men. Raven Software’s X-men Legends and its sequel, X-men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse is my definitive X-men titles. The latter was rewarded a place on the PS2’s Greatest Hits series.
The acclaimed Raven Software titles led to the holy grail of Marvel titles. Produced by the very same publisher, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance and its Civil War inspired sequel allows the player to craft their own Marvel team or use an established one to face a universal threat to the heroes. For fans of the MCU looking for a primer to Captain America’s 2016 adventures, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 will introduce the spirit of the conflict.
Importantly, again the titles celebrate couch co-op. At squareblind, beers and sofa centred gaming is our first love. The ability to craft our own super hero teams lets us settle the endless ‘who’s better’ debates.
Outside of multi-player action games, there has been a slew of fighting games based in the Marvel-verse. The ‘versus Capcom’ titles are strong entries but wander outside of a fully Marvel games, so I’ll skip these crossovers. Before DC gifted the Arkham Knight permission to enter the Dark Knight’s rogue galaxy, the Marvel Nemesis series allowed videogame characters to enter the continuum.
Unlike the aforementioned fighting titles, Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects uses arena stages to battle Marvel characters in three dimensions. Nihilistic Software’s Imperfects were interesting characters, deserving of the own comic books runs. Alas, poor sales killed further stories of the Imperfects.
These multi-character games are interestingly the opposite of cinema’s take on Marvel characters as ownership has not been divvyed up amongst studios.
With so many Marvel movies, largely the nadirs of the publisher’s titles are the tie-in video games. Most are terrible, but Battle Royal With Cheese includes two good Marvel titles and Spider Man 2 deserves its place on 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die along with the raft of other accolades.
Not tied into the movies is 2007’s Spider-Man: Friend or Foe is my favourite game featuring the spandexed Peter Parker. Aside from treasured co-op multiplayer, the humour in the title matches the character and adds levity, honestly missing from most games. To be honest, it’s a breezy, short and easy game but a nice break to more serious fare.
Deadpool also has this comedy, as would be expected from any title featuring the Merc with the Mouth. As with many Marvel titles, gameplay can be of a varying quality and sometimes repetitive but as with everything associated with Deadpool is different and fresh and I can only hope the film is also as good.
Deadpool and Spiderman face off as part of Beenox’s 2010 offering. Exploring the worlds of multiple comic book universes Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions shows the complexity of the Marvel ideas. This game was ambitious, with differing gameplay modes matching different characters and art styles. It was relatively overlooked, but standard as my definitive take on Spidey.
Featured image is a screenshot from Konami’s 1992 X-men arcade game. Used without permission, please contact squareblind (at) email (dot) com if you are the copyright holder and wish this image to be removed.