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The Untapped Potential Of Superhero Games

Last week saw the release of Avengers: Infinity War and, not surprisingly, it has had an incredible reception at the box office. Marvel has been building up its cinematic universe methodically and been doing an excellent job at it. However, every time I see another Marvel movie release, a question pops into my mind: Why haven’t we seen the same level of quality product appear in video games?

There are superhero games, of course, but the existing potential that exists is still largely untapped. Most of the releases we’ve seen aren’t even really superhero games. The series of Lego games, for example. Or Injustice. Or Marvel vs. Capcom. I could go on, but my point is simply that while many of these games are fun to play in their own right, they’re not superhero games. They’ve simply been re-coated in a superhero paint job.

It’s a great game…but it’s not really a superhero game. Source: Flickr, BagoGames

I should acknowledge that over the years there have been some very good superhero games. Games that stay true to the superhero they’re presenting and utilizing that character to its full potential. The most obvious example of this comes in the form of Batman and the series produced by Rocksteady.

When they first released Batman: Arkham Asylum in 2009, it was met with a worldwide standing ovation (metaphorically speaking, obviously). And it deserved that praise. Here was a studio that few people had heard of up until then, taking a hero that was loved across the world and creating a game for him. It wasn’t just a fancy Batman-themed shooter or beat ’em up. It was a Batman game. It was designed around the character, and molded in his image, much like Sucker Punch’s Infamous.

Only a few other games like Spider-Man 2 or Deadpool can claim to have successfully done that. On that note, it seems that the new Spider-Man game, to be released later this year, is looking to be one of those. Coming from a developer like Insomniac (Spyro, Ratchet &  Clank), I have high hopes.

Superheroes need their own games so that they can add their own flavor…even if that flavor isn’t exactly tasteful. Source: Flickr, Liam McLoughlin

In Marvel’s case, though, I believe the biggest issue is that they usually try to shove too many superheroes into a single game. Marvel Ultimate Alliance and Lego Marvel Superheroes and Marvel Heroes are well-made games, but by shoving hundreds of heroes onto the same screen at the same time, the value of individual heroes is lost. So, while at this point in time it feels like a long shot, I hope that Marvel soon starts devoting as many resources to video game production as movie production.

Nevertheless, I do believe that the time will come when companies like Marvel and DC will turn a bigger eye towards video games and when that occurs, I hope the following heroes get the attention they deserve.

Dr. Strange

Dr. Strange has always been a bit of an odd character. In a world where superpowers come from every source imaginable, straight-up magic somehow seems to take a back seat. Most heroes are relatively specialized to their set of powers, but Dr. Strange’s magic takes a million different forms. The ridiculous scope of his powers means that presenting a character like Dr. Strange in a game like Ultimate Alliance (which only allows a handful of powers per character) will always limit him.

If he’s ever going to make it in the world of video games, he needs the game to revolve around him. Otherwise, simply due to the nature of most games, he would either need to be severely limited, or would be game breaking. In the same line of thought, I’d be very happy if DC ever makes a game for Zatanna or Dr. Fate… but something tells me that’s not going to happen.

“Excuse me, have you seen any developers around here? I’d like a game made.” Source: Wikimedia Commons, Prishank Thapa

The Flash

Although a very prominent character in the DC Universe, when it comes to video games, The Flash presents quite a challenge. After all, how do you ever capture the feeling of a character that can move so fast he literally travels through time? Well back in 2008, Brash Entertainment took a shot at it, starting development on an open-world game for the scarlet speedster. Unfortunately, the company went bankrupt before they were able to finish it, leaving us all to wonder what it might have been. That being said, with The Flash’s TV show on The CW helping to raise the character’s popularity, I hope someone takes another crack at it soon.

Zoom zoom! Source: Flickr, BagoGames

Nick Fury

Now, I’ll be honest, I have absolutely no idea how a game with Nick Fury would work. I just really know I want it. I mean, who doesn’t?

Alternatively, I would also just settle for a Samuel L. Jackson game, but that may just be me. Source: Flickr, marvelousRoland

Green Lantern

The power of Green Lantern’s ring makes for an interesting potential game mechanic in and of itself. The ways in which it could be used in combat or puzzle solving alone lead to an immense amount of possibilities on the end of game developers. For me, though, the more interesting aspect comes in the option of having such a game move off-planet and explore the different areas of the galaxy that the Green Lantern Corp. operate in. I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a fan of the green uniform, but if I’m given the option playing a well-made Green Lantern game, I’d be happy to suffer through the fashion nightmare that is that suit.

As long as the end result is better than the 2011 movie, I won’t complain. Source: DeviantArt, Narcisticthinker

 

Aquaman

Ok, so Aquaman tends to be the butt of a lot of jokes, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a character worth considering. He can talk to fish…and stuff. And swim kinda fast. And he has a trident. So that’s cool. But in all seriousness, Aquaman presents a fascinating platform for games. 

Ruling over an underwater kingdom means an underwater world, and while water levels have never been a big selling point for games, a character that can breathe underwater, swim fast, and fight competently under the sea should solve most of those issues. Not to mention that bottom of the ocean is an incredible location visually. Games like Abzû and Subnautica showed us that, and with a character like Aquaman, you have an exceptionally versatile and new way to operate in that environment.

 

I also want a fishing mini-game. Source: Flickr, BagoGames 

 

Squirrel Girl

Oh you think I’m kidding. I’m not. In fact, I’ll go out and say I want this more than any of the above-listed games. Yeah. That’s right. Give me a Squirrel Girl game. Just do it. Please Marvel.

 

This picture isn’t really related, but I wanted to show a fat squirrel. Source: Wikimedia, Py1jtp

Cover Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Mrokus59

Hello! I’m a writer and editor that has grown up all over the world, and when I’m not writing or reading, I’m usually gaming. I enjoy everything from Overwatch to Dark Souls to Indie Games, so I’ll probably be writing on a variety of topics as well. Hope you enjoy, or if you’re just looking for humorous short stories, check out my blog, RedElephantStories.com.

Published in Editorials, Gaming, LatestThe Untapped Potential Of Superhero Games

Hello! I’m a writer and editor that has grown up all over the world, and when I’m not writing or reading, I’m usually gaming. I enjoy everything from Overwatch to Dark Souls to Indie Games, so I’ll probably be writing on a variety of topics as well. Hope you enjoy, or if you’re just looking for humorous short stories, check out my blog, RedElephantStories.com.

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