By: Mike “The Birdman” Dodd
Edited by: Cameron Allan
Marvel comics have a long, proud history of adaptation within the gaming industry, providing us with many iconic and fun video games throughout our youth, and continuing to do so in the modern day. Video games based on comic book properties are nothing new, but there is something special about playing in the Marvel universe as some of its most legendary characters. Marvel video games have, and will continue to exist on console and PC platforms, from the Atari to the latest generation on Xbox One. Today, we’re going to be taking a look at some of the best video games based on Marvel comic properties with the intent of providing you a combination of the greatest possible variety of titles, alongside the challenge of managing to get your hands on them.
Excelsior, as Stan Lee might say, and let’s start things off in the 90’s.
1. The Amazing Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin (SEGA CD)
This Spiderman game is one that often flies under the radar for the most part, with games like Maximum Carnage usually getting noticed first. Spiderman vs. the Kingpin was one of those games that had several different versions for the SEGA console family, but the SEGA CD version tended to stick out the most.
The game had additional levels that the others did not, like a Mysterio stage and even more boss battles with Daredevil foes such as Bullseye and Typhoid Mary. One of the more memorable battles in the game involved fighting Sandman in Central park and defeating him using a fire hydrant to wash away his sand form. You also fight Spiderman mainstays such as Electro, Venom and obviously as the title would suggest, Kingpin.
The game also did something different than the Genesis version and offered up different music, along with some voice acted, animated cut scenes. The cut scenes featured were over the top ridiculous, but for a game in that era, it was a technical achievement like none other. Pretty cool animations and fun combat, created for a great game overall that is worthy of the Marvel comic stamp of approval.
This game is totally worth tracking down on the secondary market, but could prove to be a challenging outing, even for your friendly neighborhood Spiderman.
2. X-Men Arcade (Arcade/ PSN/Xbox Live arcade)
Who didn’t see this one coming? There was a magical place that existed for youth in the 80’s and 90’s. They were dimly lit, with electronic, 8-bit sounds that filled the air. Of course, we’re talking about arcades. Konami was the developer behind a series of amazing beat ‘em up games such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the fantastic Simpsons game. X-men was based upon the famous comic book of the same name, and an animated pilot called “Pryde of the X men,” which never made it to series, but still lives on out there in the depths of YouTube.
X men arcade allowed you to play as Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Colossus, Dazzler or Storm in battles leading toward an ultimate confrontation with Magneto. This was one of the best arcade machines to feature 6 players in a huge cabinet, and hopefully, you weren’t unlucky enough to get stuck with Dazzler. Villains such as the White Queen, the Blob, Windigo and more stood in your path, and you’d get endless quotable meme like lines that still live on today like: “Nothing hurts the Blob!”
If you’ve ever been to the convention MAGfest, then you have undoubtedly heard the sounds of “Colossus” yells at 3 AM across the many floors and elevators.
X-men was one of the best arcade games of its time, and it was a day to celebrate when it finally got ported to consoles in 2010. It has since been delisted unfortunately, but many gamers still have it lurking on the hard drives of their consoles. Personally, I find there is no better way to spend a Saturday night than beating up waves of Sentinels and yelling, WELCOME TO DIE!
Get your neon coloured baseball hat, some classic Doritos, a bottle of Pepsi Clear and pretend it’s 1993 again. You’ll have yourself a fantastic time with Marvel’s merry mutants.
3. X-Men: Children of the Atom (Arcade/PS1/Saturn)
Capcom was the undisputed king of the arcade fighting experience with Street Fighter, but what if they opened up that fighting engine to other properties?
Children of the Atom would provide the framework for what would go onto become the Marvel versus series and subsequent follow-ups like X men vs. Street fighter or Marvel Superheroes. This fighting game would play you through a loose adaption of the 90’s storyline “Fatal attractions.”
The fast paced combo action of the arcade made this game an instant classic, and its legacy lives on today in its descendants such as Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. The mechanics of air combos, and other technical jargon that will matter only to fighting game aficionados, really set things in motion for the future competitive scene.
Stages also had partial destructible areas so that we could move around in Omega Red’s base or Spiral’s outpost in Mojo World and more. Larger then life characters, such as mutant hunting Sentinel, were playable and other baddies like Silver Samurai joined the fray and of course, the usual X men ensemble like Cyclops, Storm and fan favorite, Wolverine, could be selected as well.
This is a fun little gem of a fighting game, and it’s a trip down memory lane to see how the modern mechanics of many fighting games can trace their roots to this entry in the Capcom fighting genre. Things were not as chaotic or unfair in this game as opposed to entries like Marvel vs. Capcom 2. It didn’t need to have the largest roster for you to have fun, and it didn’t have to force you into choosing a team to battle instead of one versus one.
If you are fortunate enough to be able to play this on its original arcade hardware, then you are in for a real treat. It’s well worth tracking down and putting some time in on the joysticks.
4. Spiderman 2 (PS2/Gamecube/Xbox)
A good movie game, really? Surprisingly enough, some of the Marvel tie in games have actually been some of the strongest. Activision managed to evolve what it felt like to be the webbed wonder in this open world adaption of Sam Raimi’s Spiderman 2 movie. They had finally gotten the feel and weight of web slinging down to a science, and you felt the pull of the character as your webs actually stuck to objects in metropolitan New York.
The game would take events from the movie in order to expand the Spidey universe into something larger, introducing bad guys such as Shocker, Rhino and Mysterio. You had basically the run of New York to wander around, and it made the world feel as though it was your playground. The game was marked with moments of stopping random crimes, saving citizens in danger and the collecting of objects. Many games since have tried to capture its feel to moderate levels of success, but none are as fondly remembered as this game was. Modern games like the Amazing Spiderman 2 movie tie in do have some moments of fun in their otherwise mediocre game play, but very few capture the authenticity of this classic Spiderman movie game.
Whether you are swinging through the midtown rooftops, or flying above the skyline as you throw yourself from your webs, you are Spiderman, and its never been so freeing to be him in a completely open world.
5. Wolverine: Origins (Multiple platforms, but recommended for Xbox 360/PS3)
Let’s forget for a moment what a steaming pile of garbage the movie was, and instead focus on the AMAZING game it had. Wolverine: Origins is one of the rare titles that was head and shoulders above the movie, and is a fine game in its own right.
This is one of the games that featured Wolverine with his full suite of fully realized abilities and powers. What did that mean exactly? Well, you basically tore people apart at the seams, and they didn’t just fall over and die…they basically melted like a hot knife through butter.
The brutality on display was something truly amazing to behold, but is true to the man known as Logan. You had devastating attacks at your disposal that were truer to the character’s nature than any previous games to it. You also took damage, and healed up in true Wolverine fashion through the use of his healing factor. All this helped to elevate the game above the stigma of a simple tie in to a crappy movie.
The game also took advantage of its movie tie in roots and managed to recruit the talents of Hugh Jackman and others to bring the characters to life. Sadly, Ryan Reynolds didn’t play Deadpool.
One of the best moments in this game comes from taking on a prototype Sentinel in a very memorable boss battle. This was one of the most memorable battles in a Marvel game because of the sheer scope of it. Wolverine was actually fighting an in scale Sentinel, so in essence, he was fighting a giant robotic skyscraper that would liquefy him if given the chance.
It made the inner comic book geek smile because this is what we have come to expect from the comic and the fantastic 90’s FOX cartoon. Wolverine was here and ready to rumble, and it never felt so good.
Honorable mention: Deadpool (Multiplatform)
Where do we start this one? This is easily one of the funniest written games in the Marvel universe and voice actor, Nolan North, brings Deadpool to life so effectively.
Deadpool has always had that weird Meta humor that seems like it would work in a video game setting and finally, he got his chance in 2013. The game’s storyline is that Deadpool wants his own video game and what follows from there is stupidity and hilarity from start to finish.
How many video games can you think of that have a sequence where you get to press the x button to repeatedly bitch slap Wolverine, or a scene where Deadpool, fed up with listening to plot points, simply kills himself.
The game would have placed higher on the list if not for the repetitive gameplay, but regardless, it’s still worth a single play through. The merc with a mouth gave us some serious laughs and some of the more memorable moments in the Marvel universe of video games.
What’s next for Marvel? Will we get games based on upcoming movies like Infinity war? Maybe a Batman-esque game for Daredevil perhaps? Or that Incredible Hulk dating sim we’ve all been waiting for?
Disney recently got out of publishing video games, so maybe that opens the door to have the licenses passed over to developers like, Arkham’s Rocksteady, or Assassin’s creed’s Ubisoft.
Although the future seems uncertain, my excitement surely isn’t. Marvel comics have produced some fantastic games over the years, and some terrible ones too, but we as fans have always found ourselves feeling excited to be another Mutant or inhuman, or anyone for that matter whose great power comes with great responsibility.
I’ll gladly make mine Marvel any day.