Comic book video games. Usually, they’re a dime a dozen, relying more on the strength of the license rather than any gameplay that most players can relate to. But lately, we’re seeing a rise in comic book titles that live up to their franchises, namely Activision’s The Amazing Spider-Man and the upcoming Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, among several others. And believe it or not, there have been other titles in the past that have managed to do something useful with their license, rather than just dwelling on star power.
With that, we’ve decided to point out a select few, some really cool comic book-oriented video games (based on movies and original stories, as well as comic tie-ins) that really stood out over the past few years. You might just find a few of your favorites here, so pay attention…
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3- Activision)
With this latest X-Men game, Activision could’ve easily gone with a “safe” alternative and just made a fun adventure for all ages to enjoy, featuring the superhero in his traditional yellow spandex. Instead, it took a cue from the movie and somehow crafted a better story – and what’s more, one that was mature-rated. Wolverine’s combat matches that of the God of War series, with him brutally gutting enemies and leaving them in a bloody heap, and in some cases even going more extreme than that. It controlled very well, and featured some epic battles, including a full-on fight with a Sentinel that ends in an awesome manner. If you haven’t checked this game out yet, we recommend hunting down a copy, bub.
Captain America and the Avengers (Arcade, Sega Genesis- Data East)
At a time when Sega’s Spider-Man: The Arcade Game was doing good business in coin-op form, Data East had a Marvel plan of its own with Captain America and the Avengers, a likable beat-em-up featuring the heroic Super Soldier, alongside his cohorts Iron Man, Vision and Hawkeye. Up to four players can take part in the fun, ranging from shooting stages to full-on brawls with the likes of Red Skull and company. The game was a rousing success in arcades, prompting Data East to follow suit with a home version. And while the Genesis edition only consists of two players (compared to four), it’s still a great time as you fight alongside a friend. Just skip the Mindscape-produced SNES version though. Ick.
Batman: Arkham Asylum (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3- Warner Bros. Interactive)
At a time when people were getting burned out on Batman-licensed games, Warner Bros. Interactive signed on Rocksteady Studios to do something about it, and after months of anticipation, they finally came through with Batman: Arkham Asylum, a bold new take on the Dark Knight legend. Featuring smooth fighting action, a huge exploration engine around the grounds of Arkham Asylum, great visuals, a fun way to use a majority of Batman’s toys, and the voice talent of Kevin Conroy (as Batman) and Mark Hamill (as the Joker), it scored tremendously well with fans, selling millions of copies. And obviously it led to bigger and better things, with the release of Batman: Arkham City two years later. Asylum still resonates with power, though, and at $20, it’s a worthwhile addition to your game library.
Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes (Xbox Live, PlayStation Network- Capcom)
At a time when the original Marvel vs. Capcom drummed up some good business, Capcom was given a choice – do more of the same, or make changes for the better. And what we ended up getting was a huge leap forward for the versus franchise with Marvel vs. Capcom 2. Featuring over 50 playable characters, including an assortment of oddballs from both Marvel and Capcom franchises, the game also boasted a new 3D engine that, while staying in 2D for fighting purposes, produced a stellar looking sequel that really defined what a game in the genre should be. Throw in fun crossover fighting options and some wonderful super attacks, and you have an unbeatable part of a legacy. You can still catch it now on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network for a solid price, even with Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 making the rounds. And watch out for Marvel vs. Capcom Origins in September!
The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction (Xbox, PlayStation 2, GameCube- Sierra Entertainment)
The Hulk hasn’t exactly seen the greatest of days when it comes to starring in video games (his Genesis efforts are amongst his weakest), but Radical Entertainment changed all that with the debut of Ultimate Destruction, a game that literally let you run around anywhere within a city, trashing stuff to your heart’s content. The game contains a good story, but mainly it’s about Hulk running wild up the side of buildings, throwing cars at helicopters and bashing enemies to a pulp, as only his greenness would allow. The end result surprised Sierra, and began a history with Radical Entertainment that would stay through them until their closure this year, following the release of Prototype 2. We shall miss them dearly, but at least we have this Hulk smash to remember them by…
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time (Super NES- Konami)
Finally, if we’re going to talk about games that improved to new levels with a home release, we have to talk about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time. This SNES port may have lost two extra players (two, down from four) in the process, but it gained great new stages, including the return of Bebop and Rocksteady, and an awesome new fight against the Shredder in the Technodrome, where you throw enemies into the screen at him. The new pizza bonus stages were a great way to stay competitive with friends as well, in-between rounds of beating up the Foot. If you can, hook up a SNES and re-experience this game for yourself. It sure beats trying to play through Ubisoft’s misguided Turtles In Time Re-Shelled reboot, which went nowhere fast when it released a few years back.