Disappointed, disillusioned or damaged by the dreary Deadpool game? Now is the perfect time to fill your brain pod full of knowledge to show all of those comic book fanboys who really knows where the quality is when it comes to videogames/comic book tie-ins. Be warned: comic book fans know their stuff. Read this, learn it, bring your A-game blagging skills and you might just be able to convince even the most hardened comment-section-arguer that you’re the all-knowing superbastard.
The Dark Knight has come good in recent years. The ‘Arkham’ games are some of the best games available on any platform full stop, never mind simply being great Batman titles. Both are tremendous, genre leading action games that anyone can enjoy, but if you’re a Batman nerd, the care and attention to his storied lore is what makes these all-time classics. It’s not always been like this for Bats, however. He’s starred in some painfully average games, and some straight-up painful games, over the years. His transition to 3D was a rough one, with loads of utterly pump games being fired out for PS2, Xbox and Gamecube. His 2D history fairs a bit better, with a couple of decent arcade style beat ‘em ups to his Bruce Wayne, as well as a bizarre Batman Forever movie tie-in, featuring pixelated actor sprites and overcomplicated fighting game moves. Going back earlier than that, there’s a couple of solid C64 games and the perpetually overrated tie-in game to the first Batman movie - much like the movie itself! That’s right Tim Burton fans; my Bruce Wayne doesn’t sleep upside down and my Batman doesn’t mercilessly gun Joker goons down in the Batplane. That bit in the Amiga one, in the batmobile, that you remember so fondly? Crap.
- The aforementioned Batman Forever game for SNES and Megadrive was built on the Mortal Kombat engine, which explains the look and feel of the game. The look and feel being ‘a bit pants’.
- There was a secret room in Arkham Asylum that foreshadowed the events of the second game. This was put into the game before they’d even started work on the sequel, and was so secret, the developers had to put up a video explaining how to do it. According to the devs, there are still easter eggs in Arkham City that remain unfound. Amazing.
- Footage of a weird cancelled Batman title showed up about a year ago. You play as Batman in the 1800’s, cutting about London, tracking down Jack the Ripper. The prototype footage makes it look a bit like a rubbish Arkham City, but hey, we’ll never know. The FEAR devs were working on it, and I do love a bit of FEAR.
Choice Quote: “Why doesn’t every game ever just rip off the combat from the Batman Arkham games?”
Spider-Man 2 is a game that has been committed to videogaming legend. A full, open-world Manhattan is yours to explore as Spidey, swinging across the skyline with a remarkably well implemented web system that relied, accurately, on your momentum to gather speed. It followed the plot of the movie for a bit, and then went off in some wild directions to shoehorn in fights with loads of different Spider-Man villains. It was brilliant. They followed it up with the direct movie sequel, upped the size of Manhattan and tweaked the combat a bit, but it lacked a bit of the magic its precursor. They’ve recently gone back to the ‘Grand Theft Spidey’ formula, after a bunch of competent but a bit uninspiring action games, but the magic of that first time you leap from the Empire State building and swing across the city has sadly faded. Going back to the days of the SNES and Megadrive, our web-slinging hero was also the star of a couple of really good scrolling beat ‘em ups in Maximum Carnage and Separation Anxiety, alongside fan favourite antihero, Venom. All in all, a decent videogaming career for the World’s best selling superhero.
- Check out Energy Hook; a game developed by the people behind Spider-Man 2, that is clearly trying to recapture the sensation of swinging around a city that they got so right. You can find the Kickstarter page here.
- Neversoft made a couple of decent Spider-Man games on the PSOne, running on their Tony Hawk engine. This in turn led to Spidey appearing as a secret skater in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2.
- In The Revenge of Shinobi, Spider-Man is actually one of the bosses you fight during the game. At first, Sega just stuck him in there without asking, but later releases (understandably!) required a copyright notice to be stuck at the start of the game.
Choice Quotes: “As if Spider-Man 2 couldn’t get any better, your man Bruce Campbell provides the tutorial voiceover!”
Superman you poor bastard. Not only has the Man of Steel never had a decent game attributed to him, the ones that have are literally some of the worst games EVER made. I understand that making a game about Superman would be a true challenge, as his powers alone would basically break any gameplay systems that are in place, and are almost certainly the reason most games involving Supes have some contrived reasoning (usually ‘kryptonite’) as to why he is being restricted, but bless them, they try. Except Superman 64. A game so bad it almost sounds like you’re making it up. You’ve got a superhero with unlimited potential. The power of flight, super strength, heat vision, ice breath... the list goes on. Titus decided the best approach was to have you fly through some rings a bit. That’s it. Not even going into detail about the appalling graphics, controls and camera, Superman 64 is one of the worst games to ever be released.
- In Superman 64, the game is covered in a thick green fog. This is apparently ‘kryptonite gas’, and the reason Superman can’t leave the designated area or use most of his powers. It also handily hides the shocking draw distance.
- The Gameboy Advance game; Superman Returns: The Fortress of Solitude, is a strange one. It’s a shmup, punctuated with occasional bits of... sudoku. Yep. I’m sure Superman would be shit hot at a sudoku puzzle, but its inclusion is still absolutely baffling.
- The team behind the excellent Rogue Squadron Star Wars games were reportedly working on a Superman game before the company folded. Could that have been the one? They've certainly got experience in making inconsistent nerd loved franchises into rad flying around games. They also did Lair, though...
Choice Quote: “You’ve almost got to admire their dedication to making a game so rubbish. It fails in every conceivable way at being a Superman game, a videogame and simply something you’d spend your free time on.”
THE WALKING DEAD
Okay, so last month I wrote a similar article elsewhere on the internet where I promised I could write an article without a mention of zombies, but here we are. Is it really my fault, though, or is it because zombies are everywhere - the absolute (un)death of creativity. Either way, The Walking Dead is a rad comic book that really captures the feeling of utterly no hope that comes with the best zombie apocalypse fiction. It follows Rick Grimes, former police officer and reluctant leader figure of a group of survivors, who are mercilessly offed due to zombies, other horrible people and, occasionally, as a result of a tough decision Rick had to make. Telltale Games managed to capture every single piece of this into their award-winning episodic adventure, resulting in one of the greatest comic book games ever made.
- The Walking Dead has some of the smartest dialogue options in gaming, and is one of only a handful where not saying anything is as valid a response as any other reply.
- A standalone episode - ‘400 Days’ - is to be released soon and bridge the gap between this ‘season’ and the one due for release at the end of the year. It is still weird describing games as having ‘seasons’.
- If you needed any more convincing, how about this - The Walking Dead won something like EIGHTY awards last year, including many ‘Game of the Year’ ones.
Choice Quote: “After I finished The Walking Dead, I sat in my underpants and cried for an hour about a bunch of fictional people.”
Two others spring to mind that are worth mentioning. The Punisher had a game released on PS2, Xbox and PC. It was a competent action game, only with a bunch of really, really nasty execution moves thrown in! So nasty, in fact, that it has the dubious honour of being one of a handful of games that needed violence to be censored in order to even receive an ‘18’ certificate. Decent game, and the ol’ ultraviolence is pretty much Frank Castle’s MO. The other is Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, which was released around the same time. You have free run of the city, where you can jump/scale buildings, pick up pretty much everything and use it as a weapon, and do excellent things like punch helicopters out of the sky. Sound familiar? Well, the team behind this went on to make Prototype, which is basically the same game but with an angsty, unlikeable prick as the protagonist instead of the Incredible bloody Hulk. “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angsty.” No mate, we didn’t.
- Perhaps the strangest thing about all of this, despite the fantastic movie, the rest of The Avengers have only ever featured in pretty rubbish videogames. Thor, Captain America and Iron Man are all the recipients of some real turds from Sega in the past few years.
- There was a LOBO beat ‘em up set for release on the Saturn, but after it received an absolute mauling from the press, the game was pulled. Eventually, it was leaked, so you can play it if you want. I wouldn’t bother, though, as it is truly awful. Poor LOBO.
- The Watchmen. Arguably the greatest comic book ever written. One of the worst games I’ve had the displeasure of playing. Not just a crap game, but a real nasty streak in it, too. For instance, one level has you tearing through a brothel, knocking several shades out of loads of women while Rorschach calls them ‘filthy whores’ as they claim to enjoy the beatings! DARK.
Choice Quote: “Ultimately, isn’t the original Crackdown the best comic book game ever made?”