Top 10 Favorite Video Games Based on ComicsA column article, Top Ten by: Tristam Taylor
I've put together a list of my favorite video games that are based on comics. Now, I admit that I haven't played every single game out there, and you might not agree with my choices or ranking, but this is my list of my favorites. Of course, I'd love to hear your opinions, but please don't tell me I'm wrong. Cause I'm not.
10. Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe (PS3, XBox 360)
This game first made the cut just because I felt like the list was very Marvel heavy and I felt bad for DC. Then, I thought about the game itself and realized that reason I was disappointed with it was because it was a poor Mortal Kombat game, but honestly it was a decent DC fighting game. The thing is, MK has set the bar so high, and DC has set the bar so low. So, overall, this was a solid DC game. The character designs were well done, and it was fun to play as heroes like The Flash and Green Lantern, or as villains like Deathstroke or The Joker. The problem is, once you get past the novelty of fighting as your favorite characters you realize you're just playing a sub-par fighting game. The same could be said for X-Men: Next Dimension and Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects. It's fun to see how they handle the characters, but soon you realize that you're just playing a shallow and repetitive game. I mention both of these games because I was going to put them each on this list, but realized that they are in the same vein of MK vs DC.
9. TMNT Arcade
First of all, if anyone tells me the Ninja Turtles aren't from a comic book, we will no longer be friends. Second of all, this game is a classic. You and three of your friends destroying hordes of Foot Soldiers to save April, Splinter, and ultimately the world (I think. I'm not too clear on what Shredder's intentions ever were). You got to beat up on Bebop, Rocksteady, Baxter Stockman, Krang... oh and when Shredder turns you into a little turtle? Priceless! Never mind the fact that the moves are repetitive and there was no variety. Forget the fact that the bosses were impossible to kill without dying several times. Seriously, this game was designed to eat your quarters, but I did not mind one bit. Until I ran out of quarters.
8. Marvel vs Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes (Arcade, Dreamcast, PS2, XBox, dlc)
If you read my post from a few weeks ago, you would know I love this game. In fact, I claimed that if I could only play one video game for the rest of my life, it would be this game. Then how could I put it at number 8 on this list? Well because when I think a good comic book game should capture the story and atmosphere as well as have the characters. This game definitely delivers on the characters. There are 28 Marvel characters alone (well...27, there are two Wolverines) in addition to the 25 or so Capcom characters. The characters each have moves, special moves and bonuses that are pretty accurate and it's fun to team them up. The problem is, there is absolutely no comic related story. None of the backgrounds are related to Marvel comics. Even the boss is completely made up (though there is a Marvel character named Abyss. No relation). That's why this game is so low on this list. It is an awesome game, and the sheer number of playable characters is impressive, but that's all there is to it.
7. X-Men Arcade
Best arcade game ever. This game is just fantastic. I recently played this at a Barcade with a bunch of my friends and we crushed it! Sure we dumped obscene amounts of quarters in, but it was worth it. This arcade has it all over TMNT because not only do you have super moves to utilize, but up to six people can play at a time. We had Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm, and Nightcrawler just wrecking stuff. (Colossus was broken and Dazzler sucks). The standard villains are sentinels, while the bosses are the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (with Wendigo and Nimrod thrown in for good measure. Why sentinels are fighting for Magneto's crew is never explained. In fact, there are a number of curiosities, like Wolverine's laser claws and Juggernaut having a big fucking gun. Also, using your power takes away health? Bullshit! Anyways, you end up having to save Kitty and Professor X from Magneto as well as thwart some ill-conceived plot against the world (Sound familiar?). The real draw of this game, however, was the team aspect of the game play. For the first time you had a diverse roster of characters that could all be in play at once. It really captured the group dynamics that define the X-Men.
6. The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction (PS2, XBox, Gamecube)
The Hulk is not a character who follows a linear path. The Hulk goes where he wants, when he wants, how he wants. That's why the sandbox style game play is a great fit for the character. Sure it wasn't the best sandbox game out there, and some of the missions were dull and repetitive (Hulk doesn't protect caravans! Hulk SMASH caravans!) but there is a lot of fun to be had in the pure destructiveness of it all. You could grab an innocent bystander and either toss him for miles, or just pat him on the head and send him on his way. You could catch rockets and hurl them back. You could crush a car into boxing gloves and punch helicopters! How could that not be fun?!
5. Spider-Man & Venom: Maximum Carnage (Genesis, SNES)
Venom and Carnage are relatively new characters in Spider-Man's world, and when they were first introduced, fans either loved them or hated them. Well I loved them! When this game came out and I heard you could play as Venom, well that was more than enough reason to lock myself in my room with my Sega and ignore the rest of the world. And, boy did I! This game loosely followed the comic book event of the same name. This is one of the first times a game was actually based on a preexisting story. Basically Carnage and a group of baddies wreak havoc across NYC meaning Spider-Man has to team up with Venom to fight obscene amounts of thugs and no-good-nicks while occasionally running into the villains themselves. This was a side scrolling beat em up, but you could use spider powers, or the stronger venom powers, in ways never seen before. Also, you could call for help from allies like Captain America and Deathlok (fuck yeah, bitches!) to do extra damage. I am ashamed to say this, but I never actually beat this game.
This was a time before saving or memory cards. You had to play all the way through, non stop, and you only had a certain number of continues. You even had to be careful if you paused it for dinner or something, as the genesis had a tendency to freeze. I did get to the final boss several times, but then when you think Carnage is dead, he comes out of the water madder than a dumpster bee in a soda can. Sadly, I always died there. But I will always remember this game as being the one game that made you really feel like you were in Spider-Man's world. Until...
4. Spider-Man 2: The Game (XBox, PS2, Gamecube, PC, PSP, DS, GBA, OMG, N-Gage)
Say what you will about there being better sandbox games based on Spider-Man out there. Maybe the Ultimate Spider-Man game is more polished and fun. Maybe Web of Shadows has better graphics and fighting system. I don't care! When Spider-Man 2 came out (based on the best movie of the series) jaws dropped. You had Spider-Man's entire New York City and you could do whatever a Spider-Man does! I don't care that the missions got repetitive and boring (my hatred of balloons grew a thousand fold because of this game). I would spend hours just swinging as fast as I could and climbing all the tallest buildings. The fighting system had it's quirks, but it really did incorporate his spider-sense and reflexes in new and interesting ways. This was the first game that really captured what it actually might be like to be Spider-Man. There was thought put into the physics of the web swinging and you had to actually stick the web onto something, not just into the air. It's just too bad that we had to listen to Tobey McGuire's whiney voice try to be snarky (though it's not nearly as grating as the voice in Web of Shadows).
3. X-Men Legends 2: Rise of Apocalypse (PS2, Gamecube, XBox, PSP, N-Gage, PC)
Remember back when I was talking about how the X-Men Arcade really captured the team dynamics that define the X-Men? Well the X-Men Legends games poop all over the arcade's attempts at teamwork. You have four characters on screen at once, each with their own abilities, and you can choose which one you want to control at any time. If you have friends, they can play too. It's an action rpg, so you can level up your players and improve certain powers and abilities. Some people might say I should have put the first X-Men Legends on this list, or perhaps one of the Marvel: Ultimate Alliance games, but X-Men Legends 2 is quite possibly my favorite of that group. I liked the choice of characters you could play as (expecially Juggernaut and Magneto), as well as the improved power system. It also had the most interesting story, in my opinion. I understand that a lot of people view Apocalypse as clowny looking son of a gun who quotes Darwin too much and takes small parts of the bible way too literally. I don't care, I thought the Age of Apocalypse crossover was awesome, and there were a lot of ideas from that story incorporated into this game. This game took the good parts of the first one, and polished them into a much more solid experience.
2. Batman: Arkham Asylum (PS3, XBox360, PC)
Where Spider-Man 2 let you feel what it was like to be Spider-Man, this game does a fantastic job putting you right into Batman's (probably technologically advanced) boots. You're locked in the gigantic and gargoyle loving Arkham Asylum while the Joker is running the show. There have been a lot of Batman games in the past. To be honest, I haven't played most of them, but I can't imagine any of them have put this much detail the world of Batman. The biggest problem I had starting out this game (other than things popping out and scaring me) was that you can't just run in, kick ass, and take names. Don't get me wrong, Batman can kick serious ass, but he is also a sneaky detective. This game brings out all the various skills of Bruce Wayne. You have to be a martial artist, a strategist, a ninja, and a detective. The story is fun, you're trapped in the asylum with a whole bunch of crazies, as well as some old favorites like Bane, Poison Ivy, and Killer Croc. The atmosphere is perfectly creepy, and the voice acting is perfect. Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy? Absolutely. I got a little tired of the Scarecrow scenes, and the final boss battle was pretty disappointing, but whatever. I've always liked Batman, but playing this game actually gave me more respect for the character because you can actually see how well his ridiculously long list of skills can actually coexist in one person. Him and Sam Fischer. And Solid Snake. And Ezio Auditore.
1. X-Men 2: Clone Wars (Genesis)
I love love loved this game growing up. I got to chance to play it again recently on an emulator, and I still loved it. Blame nostalgia if you want, but this game is perfect to me. You got to choose from Beast, Gambit, Psylocke, Nightcrawler, Wolverine or Cyclops, and fight through various baddies. That is until level 3, when you can play as fricken Magneto! Mind you, this is the first time ever that you could do this, so yeah, it was a big deal. The thing I liked most about this game was how certain characters were better for certain stages. In the Savage Land tree level, for example, Nighcrawler was the best because his teleporting was clutch for getting to those hard to reach branches. Also, he could crawl on every surface. Wolverine could as well, while Psylocke and Beast could just hang from walls. Gambit and Cyclops had no skills like that, but they had range. Magneto had range and he could fly, so he was pretty awesome. Also, the more health you had, the more powerful your powers were, and none of this bullshit losing health for using powers crap. The story was something about saving the world from Phalanx or something. All I know is, at the end you had to fight clones of yourselves which was hard as hell. This was just a good, old fashioned, side scroller that used up hours of my youth that would have been wasted on socializing. Thank you X-Men 2: Clone Wars, you've made me the man-child I am today.