It’s a sad fact that once upon a time comic book video games were among the worst titles on the shelf, and maybe even sadder that some of those titles never even made it to the shelf. Hilariously bad games like Superman 64 and Aquaman wasted the time and money of fans all over the world, while promising games like Daredevil and The Dark Knight are forever locked away. Of course there’s no telling if those games would have actually been good or not, but it’s the aching wonder that drives me crazy. And when images of a canceled Batman: Gotham By Gaslight game and a 2009 planned Superman title surfaced, that aching wonder was reignited tenfold.
You don’t have to be a Batman fan or even know what Gotham By Gaslight is to see that these steampunk Batman menu concept screens look awesome. Tracking down Jack the Ripper in 19th century Gotham is one of those dream game moments for fans, and the possibility of expanding on the Gaslight alternate universe gives me those fanboy goosebumps. But whatever the reason may be why Day One Studios never went all the way with this game, it all turned out for the best. A fresh yet familiar new Batman is exactly what was needed to really make people believe Batman was a force franchise in games. And now that Rocksteady has established just that, as soon as the presumable Arkham trilogy is complete, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment would be in prime position to explore and experiment with taking Batman to “Elseworlds.”
For me, more shocking than the idea of a Gotham By Gaslight game almost becoming a reality, is the idea that a serious Superman game — something I’ve been begging for for years — was just out of reach and actually looked great. Here’s some early test footage and game play.
True, we’ll never really know if this game would have actually been worth a damn. I’m sure Superman 64 and Superman Returns looked promising in their early stages, but that gameplay of Superman driving Doomsday through a building definitely looked like something I would love to have done. And the concepts for Darkseid, Kalibak, Zod, and Luthor, not to mention Superman himself, look about as pure and invigorated as Batman looked in the infancy of Batman: Arkham Asylum…even if Superman’s symbol looks like a more appropriately sized Bryan Singer symbol.
What kills me is that this game was barely at out fingertips, scheduled for a 2009 or 2010 release, but, sadly, studio Factor 5, like so many other game developers, were forced to stop production and shutdown.
These lost Worlds Finest games got me thinking about what other games comic book fans have missed out on due to cancellations. In an age with no internet and gaming magazines practically non existent, Atari 2600 owners likely had no idea that their video game version of Superman and Richard Pryor was at one time meant to be, but never saw fruition in Superman III. Worse yet, Sunday comics nearly came to life with the first Garfield video game, but came to an early death with the rest of the early 1980s gaming industry. That’s more depressing than a Monday morning!
I think we all expected a movie tie-in game to the sure to be mega blockbuster The Avengers, however, such a game’s future is uncertain with the announcement earlier this year that the game adaptation had been indeed canceled. See the game’s early footage below.
Sam and Max, Alien vs. Predator, and even the X-Men have been subject to cancellations — or in X-Men’s case, I should say X-Women, a game planned for the SEGA Master System that would have featured Marvel’s top girl mutant powers.
Though most canceled games end up dead and buried for all time, there is always a flicker of hope. The once canceled Marvel Universe MMO is back in development, and so is 100 Bullets, both with new developers. But these resurrections may not all be for the better. Originally, Activision was set to publish the game adaption of the first Iron Man film, but it was passed on to SEGA, resulting in the typical mediocrity superhero movie games are known for. Could Activision’s Iron Man have been better? Would Factor 5’s Superman game have done for the Man of Steel what Rocksteady did for Batman? Would Gotham By Gaslight have been as great as the Arkham games, or would it have furthered the bad Batman game trend? Could we have missed out on the greatest Garfield experience ever conceived? It’s pointless to dwell on these questions, but that aching wonder will never be truly satisfied.
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