Thursday, 6 August 2015

The 5 Best And Worst Comic Book Video Games

I wrote this Best/Worst piece for Forces Of Geek on Thursday 30th July 2015. I had alchemy on the brain when I started...can you tell?

Ahh, comics and video games. Two bastions of pop culture that in theory, when combined should create a harmonious, heavenly Nectar of the Geeks. Sometimes, this happens and it is a wondrous thing, a miracle even, because for every great video game based on a comic there are ten absolutely abysmal ones. It's as though the magical elixir of the two mediums is such a delicacy that only a special few know the recipe, these almighty alchemists execute their elixirs with skill while others hash together blander, paltrier versions. As a lover of both comics and gaming I have compiled my top 5 of the best and the worst video games based on comics. I'll begin with the worst and save the best until last.

My Top 5 Worst Comic Book Video Games:

1. Superman 64 (N64)

"Damn you LUT HOR?!" *sigh* can this game get anything right? Answer: No.
For those of you who have played this monstrosity, no surprises here right? This game is unlike other Superman titles, while they are all pretty bad and mostly fail because of how overpowered Supes is as a character, this game is something else. It looks like someone has spewed on the screen, badly designed levels and puzzles that don't work because Superman can't walk through a door. The putrid green hue that covers most of the game is apparently Kryptonite but sounds more like a terrible excuse to hide the shoddy level design. This is without a doubt, the worst comic book video game.

2. Aquaman: Battle For Atlantis (GameCube/Xbox)

Aqua "80s Wrestler Hair" Man to the rescue!
I feel sorry for Aquaman, he can't seem to get break. He's already a running joke amongst comics fans and now this game is out to make him look worse. However, if you read Geoff Johns' run you might quit bullying the guy because he is actually pretty badass. Unfortunately for the king of the sea, Aquaman:Battle For Atlantis only served to perpetuate the myth that Aquaman sucks. And that hair...Oh God...the hair.

3. The Incredible Hulk: The Pantheon Saga (PlayStation/Sega Saturn)

Oh Hai! Me Hulk, Me Smash!
One of my biggest gripes with this game is that it suffers from terrible cutscenes, I know it was 1997 but that is still no excuse! Then there's the overly repetitive gameplay. There are only so many times you can punch the same robot you just punched in the last room or the one before that. The fixed camera only aids the boredom you will undoubtedly feel while playing this game. Hulk punch box. Hulk punch robot. Hulk punch other robot. Hulk punch self in head because Hulk BORED. The only thing going for this game is that it stayed pretty true to the comics. 

4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES)

Damn you SEAWEED!
You remember when Michael Bay's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film was announced and people began protesting the prospect of Michael Bay ruining their childhood? Well, I was indifferent because TMNT had already being ruined for me and that actually happened during my childhood. I read the comics and watched the TV show repeatedly, I even had figurines, so when I discovered there was a game, my child-self was overjoyed. Only, this game destroyed my love of the Turtles, I wanted to throw my controller at the screen because this game is so frustrating. How is it that Turtles are bad at swimming? They are TURTLES! And why does accidentally brushing against some seaweed cause death?! ARGH...WHY WON'T YOU LET ME BEAT THIS GAME?!

5. Fantastic Four (PlayStation)

What is this mess?! My eyes...MY EYES!
Now if you're going to make a game about the Fantastic Four, there are a few things to keep in mind, mainly, their unique abilities. It appears that Acclaim completely ignored this because Mr Fantastic, our super smart, stretchy leader of the Four has no stretch based ability to begin with. As for the game itself, it's clunky, movements are slow, sometimes your moves work, sometimes they don't, making the game, well...kind of unplayable. This is a game that makes the films and their tie-in games look good. Take from that what you will.

And now, as promised I saved the best until last. That way, you can forget about the atrocious aforementioned titles. So, here it is:

My Top 5 Best Comic Book Video Games:

1. Batman: Arkham City (Xbox 360/PlayStation 3/PC)

The success of the Arkham series is a testament to the quality of the games. Arkham City expanded upon it's predecessors and delivered a near perfect video game based on a comic book character. Titles that came before the Arkham series failed to really show the player what it was like to be the Dark Knight himself. In these games, armed with a utility belt of Bat-gadgets and Bat-tools, you glide through Gotham as if it were your own city beating up bad guys and racking up combos. The story follows the previous games footsteps, in that it is excellent and the side missions are varied enough to keep you entertained for hours. Oh and did I mention, you are the God-damn Batman?

2. Spider-Man 2 (PlayStation 2)

I'm flying! Look ma, no hands!
This game broke the pattern of film tie-in games being awful because it was pretty damn good. Soaring through the city of Manhattan is absolutely exhilarating and the game really does feel like the truest Spidey game to date. There is plenty of freedom to roam the city, ignoring the side missions and main story if you like. That kind of freedom in a game is always refreshing and the best thing about Spider-Man 2 is that it kind of feels like the Grand Theft Auto games. All the scope and scale of GTA but with the boring criminal protagonist replaced with the quipping, energetic Spidey that we all know and love from the comics.

3. X-Men Legends II: Rise Of Apocalypse (PlayStation 2/PC)

The more I see this line-up, the more I wish this girlband was real
Raven Software did a phenomenal job on this game. This sequel managed to be better than the original (which was great) and it featured the same addictive gameplay and plenty of unique enemies. As an action RPG that doesn't require previous RPG experience, you can choose whether to take up character management and assign skills or simply set the game to automatically level-up your characters and jump straight in. It's a very well-balanced yet it remains challenging throughout. If I'm honest though, the best thing about this game is that it has offline and online split-screen for up to 4 players! THE HOLY GRAIL of multiplayer gaming! 

4. The Walking Dead (Xbox 360/PlayStation 3/PC)

Kill, no...set him free...actually maybe kill him...just incase...wait, give me more time!
When Telltale Games first announced they were working on an adaptation of Robert Kirkman's award-winning comic series, I was kind of sceptical. Oh how wrong I was! I obsessively read these comics and was so surprised when I first picked up the game because it had me reacting in the same way as I do when I read the comics, namely, once I start reading or playing, I binge. This game really sinks it's teeth into you and the moral choices and different outcomes based on your actions or inactions are heartbreaking at times, whether you feel guilty for lying to the sweet and innocent Clementine or for choosing to save one character over another, this game more or less places you in a zombie apocalypse and gives you a good indication of how you might actually act.

5. Deadpool (PlayStation 3/Xbox 360/PC)

Unicorn to the face...
Yes, yes...I'm a Deadpool fangirl, I'm being completely biased but what makes this game truly great is that when I played it, I actually felt like I was in a Deadpool comic, this is a game that perfectly captures its character much in the same way that the Arkham games perfectly encapsulated Batman. For that, it received a place in my list. Well that and it is ridiculously fun and breaks the fourth wall as often as the comics. 

That's my Best and Worst but what games would you put into those categories? Do you agree with me? Do you disagree? Have I missed one out? Do you want me to stop asking questions? I do.

Anyway, get involved in the comments section and let me know your thoughts.


  1. I think Aquaman is more of a running joke among mainstream pop culture than dedicated comic book fans (or DC fans like myself at least). All because of that goddamn cartoon from four decades ago.

    I don't agree with TMNT on there. It was hard as shit and certainly inferior to later games. But it was at least functional (minus some hellish jumps). Replace with Catwoman or Batman: Dark Tomorrow and then we're talking.

    Deadpool surprised me. I thought it had a number of problems, but you are correct. It got the charm and personality down perfectly.

  2. The combat etc in Spidey was a bit meh but I still get swinging withdrawals... I need to get a new copy of that...

  3. I've known people in the comics industry who hate on poor Aquaman, though I appreciate mainstream pop culture does enjoy hating on him. Personally, I don't get it. I think he's a great character.

    And regarding TMNT, that's fair I just really couldn't get on with it.

    Oh, and I was going to include Catwoman but I personally never played it (lucky for me it seems!) so I omitted it. I always think if I'm going to hate on something, I should have at least played it first.

    Thanks for your comments though, I always enjoy hearing what everyone else thinks :)