Featured Columns

November 11, 2010

The Comics Console: The Most Important Aquaman Video Game of All Time

Let me tell you the story of a desperate world in need. President Bush was still in his first term in office, America was still reeling from the September 11 attacks two years prior, America was in the midst of its invasion of the middle east, acts of death and terrorism were reported daily all across Europe and Asia, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the reigning Superbowl champions. In 2003, the world was in desperate need of a hero. Thankfully, TDK Mediactive heard the cries of billions of people, and gave the world the one gift they had been waiting a life time for…Aquaman.

Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis

Publisher: TDK Mediactive
Developer: Lucky Chicken Games
Released: July 30, 2003
Platforms: Xbox, GameCube
ESRB: Teen

Okay, well, maybe that wasn’t exactly the case. I don’t think anyone ever expected, let alone asked for, a full video game devoted completely to Aquaman. In my opinion, though, Aquaman gets a bad rap. I mean, depending on what issue you’re reading (and let’s be honest, unless you’re reading Brightest Day, how many people out there are reading anything Aquaman related?), Aquaman is the king of Atlantis, further more, king of the sea. Theoretically, Aquaman is the most powerful political entity on Earth, but the guy gets no respect. And why not? True, Arthur Curry doesn’t have the “coolest” super powers. Communicating with fish and throwing water bombs can only be marketed so far, but the character is a legend. He is a founding member of the Justice League of America, he was one of the first comic book characters to be domesticated to marriage, he had his own animated series right next to Superman’s, and he almost had his own live action TV show a few years ago (Checkout the trailer here). So next time you ask, “Why is there an Aquaman game?”, I ask you, “Why not?”

In the comics in 2003, Aquaman was experiencing somewhat of a renaissance with artist Yvel Guichet giving the King of the Sea a new look to go with the relaunch of Aquaman in a new direction. A video game complementing this event is an extraordinary honor for any character, but, thankfully for Aquaman purists of the late 1990s, DC Comics seemed to not work at all with game publisher TDK, or game developers Lucky Chicken, because in Battle for Atlantis, Aquaman still sports the dated beard and hook-for-a-hand look that was so popular among fans. Apparently, Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis was such a big deal that all the fun and action couldn’t be contained in a PlayStation 2 version. That’s right, Aquaman finally makes his solo video game debut, and there isn’t even a PS2 version.

But let’s get serious. Aquaman is a character that demands respect for his video game, and he has rightfully earned respect…about as much respect as Superman 64. Seriously, did you like Superman 64? Well, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you “Aquaman 64.”

In Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis you control Aquaman, obviously, and you will spend four hours journeying across your kingdom beating up random groups of aquatic thugs. And that’s the game, everybody. Have fun!

No, really, that’s all you do in the game. The plot is some absolutely useless jargon involving the Joker to Aquaman’s Batman, Black Manta, and the Condiment King to Aquaman’s Batman, Lava Lord. Yes, the deadly Lava Lord! Do you remember Lava Lord? I don’t either. Before I played this game, I felt like a huge nerd because I could name two different Aquaman villains in Black Manta and Ocean Master. I’ve never even heard of Lava Lord before Battle for Atlantis. Now I can name THREE Aquaman villains! Now that’s something I can brag about to the ladies. Thank you Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis!

But honestly, all you do in the game is move from gang to gang beating up the exact same bad guys using the exact same moves. Aquaman does have a few different combo attacks and special moves, like calling for help from different sea life, but learning all that crap means the game will last longer, and you really don’t want that, so just continuously tapping the A button will do just fine.

Of the 21 levels you’ll spend in Atlantis, you’ll spend 4 of them playing as a submarine. You would think that this might be a nice change of pace from the tediously repetitious gameplay, but sadly, it’s equally as boring as anything else you do in the game. The submarine levels are pointless and lame, usually requiring you to just shoot at other submarines.

Cutscenes are awful with slow moving, uninteresting comic book panels and speech bubbles. Obviously they’re there to set up story points and mission objectives, but I’d rather they weren’t there at all. This is one of my pet peeves about comics translating to other media. Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis is a video game…treat it like a video game…it’s not a comic book…we don’t need comic book pages to hype us up for our next lame video game mission.

I think the funniest part about the game is the environment. You swim around in a pretty large Atlantis city type area that appears to be completely empty. You’ll pass by all kinds of different poorly rendered Atlantic architecture with absolutely no one but Aquaman and bad guys inhabiting it. Even in the Game Cube version, there is an absence of fish swimming around in the water. Though I guess it’s for the best that Lucky Chicken was humane enough to spare even lifeless video game avatars from having to suffer the boredom of Atlantis.

It’s widely agreed that the worst comic book video game of all time is Superman 64, and there is yet to be a game that can come close to that level of ridiculousness, but if one game can, it’s Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis. The only thing it’s missing are mind numbing levels of redundant rings to swim through.

Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis may be the only pure Aquaman game, I’ll be damned if it’s still not the best one. Aquaman and his adventure may not have blessed us with much in our people’s time of need, but it did grant us with one huge dance craze in the early millennium, the Aquaman Thrust.

For more segments of The Comics Console, click here.

Andrew Hurst
andrewhurst@comicattack.net

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Comic Attack, Andrew Hurst. Andrew Hurst said: Why doesn't Aquaman get any F'n respect?! http://comicattack.net/2010/11/tcc111110/ […]



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