With Avengers: Age of Ultron set to make another bajillion dollars for Marvel & Disney, we here at Geek & Sundry thought it would be neat to take a look back at Marvel over the years, except from the perspective of video games.
Video games, like the movies, have had a long and bumpy road going from clunky, awkward interpretations of our favorite sequential art heroes to the bright and shiny epics that we enjoy today. They weren’t always polished gems, but the trip through nostalgia is worth more than its weight in gold. Here is our retrospective of some of our favorite Marvel games:
1) Spider-Man (1982)
Platform: Atari 2600
The tendency for modern day gamers is to look back at games from the past and label them “bad” because they don’t measure up to the standards of today. But what they fail to realize is that without those attempts from the past, we wouldn’t have arrived at the things we have in the present. This version of Spider-Man is the first example of that. Maxing out the tech capabilities of a game in its time, Spider-Man was a worthy attempt to capture the experience of being Spider-Man while playing on the Atari 2600. If this isn’t enough for you, it’s still probably more faithful to Spider-mMn than the Japanese Toei adaptation from the 1970s, so there’s that consider as well.
2) Questprobe: The Hulk (1984)
Platform: Home Computers
The Questprobe series of games were text based adventures where the player would lead the hero in question through a series of puzzles that could only be solved by giving them specific typed directions. “Sit Chair”, “Open Door”, “Go Outside” were familiar frustrating instructions in order to make your way through the game. In 1984 the Questprobe series got The Hulk, followed by others such as Spider-man, and the Human Torch & Thing. They were close in spirit to the 1960’s Marvel cartoons which took images ripped directly from the comics and pasted on screen. The results weren’t always top notch, but it still held its own level of fun.
3) Captain America and The Avengers (1991)
Debut platform: Arcade
This was one of the first leaps forward in graphics capabilities for Marvel hero games and one of the first to realize the fun that we experience on the printed page. Able to select between Captain America, Iron Man, or Hawkeye, Captain America and The Avengers was a side-scrolling adventure that breathed life into the super hero video game genre.
4) X-Men (1992 video game)
Debut Platform: Arcade
Hitting the arcades at the height of 90’s X-mania, the X-Men video game was a side-scrolling adventure reminiscent of Double Dragon and the Ninja Turtles arcade games of its time. Able to control Cyclops, Colossus, Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler or Dazzler the X-Men went up against Sentinels, henchmen and the always anti-magnanimous Magneto. A hit at the arcade, it went on to see ports developed in 2010 for the Playstation Network as well as iOS.
5) Marvel Super Heroes (1995)
Debut Platform: Arcade
Fighting games and Superheroes seem like two genres that should often mix, but over the years it has been somewhat rare compared to the total output of fighting games as a whole. Marvel Super Heroes however kickstarted a string of games that eventually saw the Marvel Heroes going up against the characters from Capcom. Done in an anime style, Marvel Super Heroes was noted for its quick kicking, fast moving fun and fight moves with a bright flashy pop design.
6) X2: Wolverine’s Revenge (2003)
Debut Platform: PS2, Xbox, Gamecube, PC, Mac
Not quite the hit that it was hoped to be, X2: Wolverine’s Revenge was a 3rd Person adventure game written by Marvel Comics writing great Larry Hama, that followed Wolverine through his own original story. It touches on his involvement with the Weapon X program and features mainstay villains such as Magneto, Lady Deathstrike and his nemesis Sabertooth. Interesting for its fleshed out 3D world, “Revenge” is worth checking out if you can manage to get your hands on it today.
7) The Punisher (2005)
Debut Platforms: PS2, Xbox, PC
With a story written by Garth Ennis, the comic book’s visionary writer at the time, The Punisher took elements from games such as Max Payne and added interesting yet gross torture sequences which the character used to twist information out from his adversaries. Impressive from a graphics standpoint, Punisher lacked the staying power of other games, but is a fun ride in its own right and firmly establishes that Marvel Games have grown up.
8) Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 (2009)
Debut platform: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, DS, PSP, PS2
This sequel to the 2006 version amped up the realism of the original’s design and boosted levels of game play while adding characters and content. Based on elements of the Civil War storyline, Ultimate Alliance 2 is probably the most realistic Marvel interpretation until the first Avengers film debuted in 2012. If you’re paying close attention you can even spot Iron Man and Captain America teaming up and using their powers just like they went on to do in the Avengers movie a few years later.
9) Marvel Pinball (2010)
Debut Platform: PlayStation Network, Xbox Live
All the fun of a pinball machine in the comfort of your own home, Marvel Pinball was noteworthy for its amazingly detailed setups, each featuring a different Marvel character. Played with the same real-world dynamics of an actual pinball machine, Marvel Pinball was a great way to pass the time if you’re looking for less violence and more pinball fun.
10) Lego Marvel Super Heroes (2013)
Debut Platform: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Wii U
While Ultimate Alliance is the most realistic interpretation of the Marvel Universe in video game form, Lego Marvel Super Heroes is the most complete and fully realized. Taking place in an open world environment of a Lego New York City that boasts the likes of the Daily Bugle, The Stark Building, The Baxter Building and even the X-Mansion, our Marvel Lego heroes follow a story line that sees them setting out from their headquarters on a S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier high above the city to fight such foes as Doctor Doom, Magneto, and even the ultimate Marvel villain Galactus. With both familiar and obscure characters to play, and complete with numerous Stan Lee cameos, Lego Marvel Super Heroes is challenging, fun, and a great way to learn the ins and outs of the Marvel Universe from every which way imaginable.
What are some of your favorite Marvel video games? Tell us in the comments!