Super Types

December 17, 2009

The Comics Console: The Games We Always Wanted and the Games We Never Asked For

I think comic book fans are some of the most greedy, demanding, and sometimes rabid fans of any other fan base. We know what we like, and we know what we want, even if sometimes we don’t know what we don’t like or what we don’t want. Sometimes we just have to accept that we don’t always get what we like, and we almost never get what we want. Especially in the case of video games.

This week, we’re looking at video games that we comic fans have always asked for, but never got, video games that we didn’t ask for but got anyway, and a few surprises that we didn’t expect.

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Smallville

In 2001, the world was treated to a very unique look at the Man of Steel. As the adventures of Clark Kent (not Superman) thrilled television viewers and was met with major success, fans had to wonder if a video game of some kind was in the future. It’s not completely illogical to expect a game. Yeah, Smallville seemed more like Dawson’s Creek with meteor freaks at times, but what action we saw in between breathy and romantic meetings with Clark and Lana, and the wisdom and guidance of Jonathan Kent seemed like it could have been translated well onto the Xbox, Playstation 2 and Game Cube. Imagine running through the corn fields or Kansas in an open world Smallville environment. Exploring the Kent farm, or the Luthor mansion, and hunting down Green K infected citizens causing trouble. If done right, it could have been the best Superman based game ever. But then again, it could have just as easily become Smallville 64. And that’s something no one wants.

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Catwoman

I completely understand the logic behind making a Catwoman movie. She’s one of those characters who everyone is familiar with, and could draw a lot of money in her own film. I can even understand (if not completely accept) Warner Bros. throwing 60 years of character continuity and great Catwoman stories out the window, and placing Halle Berry as Patience Phillips in a movie that has no connection to the comics other than the name Catwoman. But one thing I’m not sure I understand is a Catwoman tie-in video game. Movie tie-in games are usually reserved for big action blockbusters — something Catwoman isn’t. True, Catwoman is a superhero action/romance film, or something like that, but it’s not the kind of film fans were dying to experience at home in their game consoles. You shouldn’t have to ask if the game sucked, because it did. Almost worse than the film. While some fans are appreciative of the thought, a game adaption of Catwoman is something I don’t think anyone asked for.

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Sin City

I imagine if a Sin City game were going to ever come out, then it would have happened during the release of the film, but with all the swirlings of Sin City 2 on the horizon, we may still get our wish. The world Frank Miller created in the early 90s is filled with tons of action for a decent video game. If nothing else, the story would be amazing. Though an early 90s video game of Sin City could have been a disaster (picture Marv puttin’ his mitts to good use on a side scrolling adventure through Basin City on the Super Nintendo), but in 2005, racing through the streets as Jackie Boy or leading the gang of prostitutes on Microsoft or Sony hardware could have been awesome.

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Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis

Personally I think Aquaman gets a bad rap. Yeah, I admit it’s hard to not giggle at a guy whose super power is to talk to fish, but being King of not just Atlantis, but of the entire sea is hard work. Aquaman has three quarters of the entire planet to protect. Now I could sit here and defend the credibility of Aquman all day, but one thing no one can defend is Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis. It’s bad enough that the character gets ripped on so much, but to create a video game so bad that it could win the award for worst video game of all time is just embarrassing. I’m all for comic book characters being brought to life in the form of video games, but I have to wonder what TDK Mediactive and Lucky Chicken Games were thinking when they chose Aquaman as the star of their game.

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Batman: Gotham City Racer

You would think that if a developer set out to make a driving game, then the one thing that developer should make sure they don’t screw up is the driving, right? WRONG! Just thrown Batman’s face on the package and make the car kind of look like a Batmobile and you’re set! This was the philosophy for Ubisoft. Though the game did have a healthy list of drivable vehicles like Nightwing’s motorcycle, Joker’s custom sedan, and cut-scenes pulled right from the animated series, I’m sure most fans can appreciate the fact that the game exists, but it’s probably one they’ll never want to play.

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Secret Wars

In the mid 80s Marvel countered DC’s Crisis with their own epic twelve parter, Secret Wars. Though the NES wasn’t even a year old when the series concluded, a video game adaption would have been absolutely epic. Each mission playing as a different Marvel icon in a new environment, tacking on their appropriate super villain at the Beyonder’s demand. Part of Secret Wars was used to launch a toy line with the same name, so a video game would have made sense as well, but given that the video game industry had yet to receive its second boom, it’s understandable why steps weren’t taken for a game. But with the Marvel Ultimate Alliance games now incorporating story lines from the comics, a Secret Wars game is still very possible.

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Lego Batman

I don’t know about you, but I nearly flipped when the announcement trailer for Lego Batman hit. The Lego Star Wars games were fun and absolutely adorable, so I was more than willing to let the Dark Knight shine in the same light. The Lego games have never been perfect, but always fun with friends. With the amount of playable characters, and iconic locations like Arkham, Wayne Manor, and all of Gotham to explore, this really feels like a genuine Batman experience, and not just Lego Star Wars with a mask and cape. Lego Batman is a pleasant surprise that we’ll be open to more of.

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Spider-Man and the X-Men: Arcade’s Revenge

By 1992 we had seen Spider-Man games, we had seem X-Men games, and we even saw team-up games like Captain America and the Avengers. But in 1992, two of comics’ biggest titles collided on the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. It made sense for Marvel to team their big two, but I don’t think many expected to play as the big two together in one game. The game itself plays a little rough. Not nearly as exciting as the Marios or Sonics, but the name alone was all LJN needed for the game to be a hit. Be careful of this one though. It’s hard a hell!

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Super Friends

The Super Friends were at their peak during a time when Pac Man and Space Invaders were the video game kings, and you had to walk down the street to a 7/11 to get a gaming fix. But with the home console market gearing up with the Atari 2600, and the popularity of the Super Friends still strong, a game adaption could have been a nerd’s dream come true. Sure Atari games are pretty tough to enjoy by today’s standards, and the Superman and Spider-Man games that we did get were pretty rough, but the idea of being able to play as the greatest heroes on Earth is still attractive. One level as Superman, the next as Wonder Woman, Batman, maybe even Firestorm and the Wonder Twins. Hell, just thinking about how bad some Atari games got makes me cringe, but the idea of all the top heroes in one cartridge gets me excited, and wanting to play a few rounds.

What issue of comic book history have you always wanted in video game form?

Checkout The Comics Console next week when we look at the super hero game everybody wanted, and expected, but never got: The Dark Knight.

Andrew Hurst
andrewhurst@comicattack.net

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3 Comments



  1. Andrew, this is great!

    I’d love to see a Sin City game! The possibilities seem endless, especially given the style of the film; a game could take advantage of that and put out something awesome.

    I have Spider-Man/X-Men for the SNES and think it’s one of the most difficult games for the system. The first level is easy but so freakin’ tedious, and after that the levels are downright hard. I can beat the Wolverine stage once in awhile (thank you healing factor!), but to have only 3 continues for the ENTIRE game is too extreme if not flat out impossible.

    A video game I always wanted to see, but probably never will due to licensing is a Marvel vs DC fighter game. Oh man that’d be so bad ass.

    One game that didn’t make your list that could have is Superman for the N64. I mean, why make a Superman game where all you do is FLY THROUGH RINGS!?!?!?!?


  2. billy

    Secret Wars would have been cool. Lego Batman is a really good game. My kids play it constantly.


  3. InfiniteSpeech

    That Catwoman game was just like the movie..nice to look at but lacked substance and credibility. I would love to see a Secret Wars game whether done as a fighting game OR an RPG.

    The Sin City game would be a great sandbox type experience as well.



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