Superheroes That Should Be Games

 Pages 1 2 NEXT
 

Superheroes That Should Be Games

You'd think that superheros and videogames would be a natural fit. Both are good at portraying the classic empowerment fantasy, and the audiences have plenty of overlap. But for some reason the genre is a graveyard of failures and missed opportunities.

Read Full Article

I'm really surprised we haven't gotten an Iron Man game given how perfect he is for a video game like progression from weak to strong since there's a very good explanation for getting more powers over time.

Also, I think you missed the other really successful superhero games; Ones where you play a non-established protagonist like inFamous and Prototype. Those both did very well (Prototype 2 isn't a thing shutup) and didn't need an established name to back them up.

The Punisher for PS2 and Xbox was a really good game already. I'd love for them to expand on that or even just a remake using the same basic setup. It was made by Volition and it captured Frank's lack of any empathy for the guilty criminals he punishes.

Also, the Captain America movie tie-in game was better than it had any right to be. It followed Arkham's lead in the combat, though significantly less refined than Rocksteady's offerings. Still, when you incorporated the shield in to combat, it had a very satisfying "THUNGGGG" sound effect as it bounced off of HYDRA agents skulls. Recommend it to anyone looking for a fun, albeit short, Cap game.

As for what I'd personally like to see, a proper sequel to HULK: Ultimate Destruction and another good Spider-Man game.

The Punisher actually did have a game that (I felt) captured the character really well within the context of the Marvel Universe. It wasn't open-world, but there were a lot of interesting and humorously violent set pieces that really worked for the character.

Green Lantern would probably be a fit for a game in which you "draw" or "paint" stuff. Touch screen (and maybe even Kinect?) controls would surely work very well with that. (I'm currently also playing Okami <3) It really doesn't necessarily have to be in 3D either. Think of something like Scribblenauts: use Green Lantern's powers to fight enemies and solve puzzles with a few hundred items in a 2D sidescroller.
He is also interesting because is extremely powerful on one side but in the end just mortal when his ring runs out of power. So there could be some really spectacular combat moves without all the Superman problems.

Captain America: Could work but I think outside the USA people aren't so much into him. The acrobatics/Prince of Persia stuff would also be interesting but I guess I'd just prefer a proper Prince of Persia (the cell shading one) sequel.
Wolverine: Weren't there some Wolverine games already? Anyways, he'd probably do well in a spectacle fighter.

Overall, most superheroes named (and many many more unnamed ones) lend themselves well to generic spectacle fighters. However, I think the appeal of the Arkham games isn't actually in the spectacle fighting. Sure, it is an integral part to it but huge parts of them are also exploration, clue hunting and many more. Imagine how boring they would be without the detective work.
Superhero games really need a lot more than starring a big name and some fighting. Where that might come in I cannot say. Of course it would be interesting to see more superhero games.

I have to ask: why not let Superman (or some other hero) fly through walls and otherwise smash the place up? Half the fun of Red Faction was destroying inconvenient architecture with oversized vehicles and bombs.

It would perfectly in character for Supes to burst in through a wall, rescue a hostage, and burst out again (ideally, through a different wall) before the goons can do any more than gape in astonishment. In fact, let him be invincible most of the time and have the challenge rotate around not making a godawful mess and killing people. If the villain is plotting to dump a zillion gallons of boiling sentient acidic poison on the city, it'd probably smart not simply trash his lab and accidentally release the stuff.

I think you're too quick to dismiss Superman, Shamus. He holds back his strength to not kill his opponents, so it's easy to imagine this manifesting sort of like in Bayonetta. Regular punches for regular enemies, with the end of most combos manifesting in a huge version of the weapon she's using. But when it's time for a huge boss battle, every single attack results in that huge version of her current weapon. He doesn't fly away because he's taken it on himself to protect endangered people, he doesn't use his full strength in order to not endanger people. I think he'd be a bad fit for a sandbox game, except for a sort of saints row 4 alien invasion metropolis thing with good flying, but I don't have a hard time at all imagining an action game.

Going a little further afield than the open-world brawler, the X-Men are perfectly suited to a mid-budget, turn-based tactical combat game in the style of XCOM or The Banner Saga. There's dozens of them with two or three unique abilities each, most of them are durable but mortal, there's a strong interpersonal relations and teamwork focus, and the setting is a mishmash of real life and sci-fi that gives you license to go pretty much anywhere. (This is a series where the classic Dark Phoenix story arc takes place alternately in Central Park, a gentleman's club, a psychic illusion of Colonial America, and alien ruins on the moon.)

A non bullet proof iron-man could work, you would just need to show that it takes a lot of firepower to leave a scratch. So the number of mooks range in the hundreds for a level. any one group is not much of a threat, but if you don't take them out efficiently then you might be in some trouble at the end of the level.

You could also go with a cell shaded look. Fewer textures would mean it would be cheaper to make a huge world to run around in, and it would show a contrast to the movieverse.

Night Thrasher!
I mean, sure, there's not so much there in the way of superpower, But... Night Thrasher! He's both obscure enough to attract non-comic-readers, and has enough interesting hooks and storylines to make a decent game from.

My choice would be Daredevil. I think he's a great character, but I also think he would make a very good videogame protagonist especially if they include some of the courtroom stuff alongside the superhero stuff.

As others said before, The Punisher already gad a great game back in the ps2 days. The torture system designed to make criminals talk was pretty well implemented and fits well with the character's M.O.

Both Iron Man and Captain America had games recently - both games were pretty bland.

As for Superman, there are a shit-ton of ways to make the game challenging. He's vulnerable to magic, kriptonite and he has a respectable rogues gallery - Parasite, Lex, Metallo, Doomsday, Brainiac, Toymaker, Darkseid and the list goes on and on.
Getting supes to do challenges that fully explore his abilities would be key to make a kickass game.It has a ton of potential.

Wonder Woman could have a decent setting la God of War. Flash has one of the best rogue galleries in comics and the comics have shown that he can do a lot more than just "run really fast" to provide variety in terms of gameplay. Barry Allen's CSI duties could also give the game an interesting investigative angle.

Robyrt:
Going a little further afield than the open-world brawler, the X-Men are perfectly suited to a mid-budget, turn-based tactical combat game in the style of XCOM or The Banner Saga. There's dozens of them with two or three unique abilities each, most of them are durable but mortal, there's a strong interpersonal relations and teamwork focus, and the setting is a mishmash of real life and sci-fi that gives you license to go pretty much anywhere. (This is a series where the classic Dark Phoenix story arc takes place alternately in Central Park, a gentleman's club, a psychic illusion of Colonial America, and alien ruins on the moon.)

Oh, I'd love myself a tactical X-Men RPG. Freedom Force feels so old and clunky now :(

Superman in a brawler is either boring or inaccurate. But what if we copied (and heavily modified) the gameplay of Shadow of the Colossus? Superman vs. Kaiju, anyone?

No grip gauge, no reason to reduce Superman's power level, some tactical combat through ordering around your super-buddies ("Hal, shackle its right leg! Diana, pull its left leg away!"), gigantic sky boxes with little need for object detail (unless the Kaiju attacks a city), and the sort of ridiculous concept which practically sells itself.

You could even translate the "shoot arrows at lizards" side quests into "save random civilians from muggers." If you wanted to add different gameplay, you could have the player find these muggers by using Superman's super-senses. Batman has Detective Vision, Superman has X-ray Vision.

I doubt this will ever be made (except possibly a non-Superman version by indies), but it's still fun to think about.

I like the list, but there has already been an Iron Man game on consoles. It came out after the first movie. I never played it but I remember the demo being fun.

I did play the PSP Iron Man game and I really liked that back in the day. You could fly around and shoot missiles and repulsors at bad guys, what more do you want from an Iron Man game?

Can we get some Wonder Woman love please? She could easily escalate from mortal thugs to gods, and demons same as a lot of protagonists do, and it's not like she hadn't done it in the comics. Yeah, she's more likely to kill people, but she doesn't have to. I mean she's in the DC Holy trinity, and I doubt she'd stay there if she worked like Kratos... all the time.

Could be a golden opportunity to get some less than well known characters, too.

Maybe have the game broken up into chapters based off story arcs. She could help out the Birds of Prey, fight Greeks, fight other amazons, demons, what have you.

It's not like she's had her own game in recent history like most of the list. I wouldn't be surprised if she NEVER got her own game. Can't be arsed to research right now. :P

I still say Catwoman needs her own game based off the comics as opposed to the movie. Gotham City Sirens style arcs maybe. She could walk the line between Superheroine (She does have some light super powers, IIRC in photographic reflexes.) and the catburglar we know her as. It's not like resources for that don't exist.

Some of the more difficult heroes mentioned, such as Superman, Green Lantern or Dr. Strange, would likely translate well to a TellTale game, ala Walking Dead. In particular, Dr. Strange would be a stand-out here because as mentioned in the article, much of his work involves exploring unusual realms and making decisions about how to resolve some manner of Cthulhu-like horror.

Ibbathon:
Superman in a brawler is either boring or inaccurate. But what if we copied (and heavily modified) the gameplay of Shadow of the Colossus? Superman vs. Kaiju, anyone?

No grip gauge, no reason to reduce Superman's power level, some tactical combat through ordering around your super-buddies ("Hal, shackle its right leg! Diana, pull its left leg away!"), gigantic sky boxes with little need for object detail (unless the Kaiju attacks a city), and the sort of ridiculous concept which practically sells itself.

You could even translate the "shoot arrows at lizards" side quests into "save random civilians from muggers." If you wanted to add different gameplay, you could have the player find these muggers by using Superman's super-senses. Batman has Detective Vision, Superman has X-ray Vision.

I doubt this will ever be made (except possibly a non-Superman version by indies), but it's still fun to think about.

Well, superman vs humansized supervillain is also really good, and usually better than superman vs giant monster. I think it would be fantastic if we could make a game about flying invunerable superhumans going all out agains each other in a semi-open world.

I tend to agree with a lot of people that Green Lantern would be very doable, and it would give people something to do with all of this otherwise pointless touchscreen technology. Truthfully when you get down to it, Green Lantern mostly does a few basic things, hit people, constrain people, or move things when it comes to his powers, albeit he does it in different ways with different constructs. Doing a game based around him could say allow you to design your own custom energy constructs to tie to his basic abilities so they look a different way (perhaps even rotating through your collection as you use the same ability). You might start with a construct strike that is a big green fist, but if you want it to be a hammer instead, you could draw one and put it into the game. Albiet this would also mean those with sick minds could draw absurd or perverted things of course.

When it comes to Superman, he's not really franchise material as far as churning out a game about him every year. His stuff would take some work, but it's quite doable since his rogues gallery is full of threats on his level, and his stuff tends to not exactly be short on the action when it comes to the high end punch-ups. While Superman gets into a lot of routine "I show up and solve the problem with no difficulty" stuff, he also gets called in frequently when some truly powerful being is on a rampage, and then has entertaining fist fights that result in tons of urban demolition. The trick to doing Superman well might be to do the game on a global scale, and have him respond to "hot spots" where specific things are happening, and otherwise have the ability to visit different cities/environments when the story isn't calling him somewhere, to do something. I admit that something on the scale Superman would require would take a lot of money, and again, the interest in doing it without being able to squeeze one out every year or too easily wouldn't appeal to the current corporate mentality.

As far as Wonder Woman goes, there are a number of different ways that she could be used, but that's kind of the problem to doing the character since she's really hard to satisfy the fans with. Consider that she basically started as a combination bondage pin up and lesbian empowerment fantasy (Bob did a thing at one point about the guy who created her, his wife, etc...) and has been redefined almost constantly. The thing is that you COULD do almost anything with her, but at the end of the day almost nothing you do with her is likely to make the fans happy and totally avoid controversy. For example if you basically just copy pasted Wonder Woman onto what amounts to a "God Of War" game I doubt that would actually wind up making her entire fan base particularly happy.

To be honest I've always thought Wonder Woman might be a decent character if they ever wanted to do a very "M" rated game or risk actually going for an AO title, simply because you could elaborate on all of the sex stuff, and still have a pretty solid character for doing other things with.

That said, I've always thought Yahtzee's old idea about playing as an actual super villain in a sandbox game might be interesting. It would also be a way of using a lot of hard to write heroes, since what doesn't work if used as a protagonist might work as a boss for a villain game. Looking at "Saint's Row" or "Grand Theft Auto" for example it might be interesting to say play a game as "The Joker" in Gotham while Batman is indisposed, embark on your heists and stuff, and the ever popular "sandbox rampages" could also be put into the game as a part of it, as opposed to being something you do while bored between playing the game regularly. After all The Joker running around killing people randomly and making a big mess is kind of what you expect. It's also ideal for an inevitable "you lose" ending without it being a total downer because honestly... who really wants The Joker to win and kill everyone? :)

I've also felt that some of the super-thief characters like say "Catwoman" or "Black Cat" would be interesting choices for a stealth based game, they can do the action thing, but at the end of the day aren't really supposed to be brawlers. I kind of saw the potential for this in the second "Arkham" game.

On top of all of that I'll also mention flat out that I think the best thing that could be done with the whole idea is to simply not attach specific heroes to the universe franchises. To be honest, having played all of the hero MMOS (Champions, and before it City of Heroes/Villains, DC Universe Online) there is a lot of fun in creating your own character, costume, etc... and being a hero your way. One of the big problems with the MMOs though is that the material becomes unusually generic when you have to work around MMO tropes and mechanics, you just can't do the kind of world building and story telling that you can with a single player game. I saw the potential for this heavily in "Infamous" especially as the powers diversified, and it occurred to me that it could work with say "City Of Heroes" type character generation if they did it right. Granted you wouldn't wind up being able to define the player character the same way, but at the same time being assigned someone like Cole does kind of ruin the personal empowerment fantasy that super hero stuff thrives on.

Fun fact: A while ago, a company made a demo for a Flash video game. It was cancelled, but video was released online.

Green Arrow. And make it stealth orientated. I think you could do a lot with bow mechanics. Plus, he even shares a few villains with Batman, so it's a good place to start if Rocksteady was looking to branch out from the Arkham games.

The Punisher already had a video game, and it was pretty damn enjoyable.

Beyond that?

I don't see the NEED for an 'open world' game.

The Flash could work as a 'real world Sonic' side scroller.

Superman could work as a mission based 'trapped in magical realm X'.
-Remember, magic is one of his weaknesses.

Captain America could work as a sort of 'The Saboteur' or 'Remember Me', set behind enemy lines in WW2.
-With Logan (AKA: The Wolverine) as a side character with bone claws.

I myself would love a Doom Patrol adventure game from Telltale with guest writing from Grant Morrison...or a Flex Mentallo beat em up.

octafish:
I myself would love a Doom Patrol adventure game from Telltale with guest writing from Grant Morrison...or a Flex Mentallo beat em up.

Sadly, I think the odds of getting a "Doom Patrol" game are roughly equal to me getting any games based on the old "Wildstorm" comics universe... oddly my favorite universe (Wildcats, The Authority, Gen-13, various incarnations of Stormwatch, etc...).

That said after I did my entire rant it occurred to me that nobody seems to have remembered Spawn, granted he's gotten several attempts at not-so-good games, but would work fairly well in a sandbox setting, especially one where stealth was encouraged but hardly required. He's got tons of power, but also some severe energy limits, needing to go to gloomy places to recharge his batteries (once he learns he can recharge that is).

All told though I do think the article writer was on the money with a "Judge Dredd" game being an awesome idea, though it would generally involved stopping criminals in a sandbox world, as opposed to being one.

obviously, we already have excellent Batman games, but Iron Man is probably the second most perfect superhero to base a game on... at least, gameplay-wise. there could be some great variety in gameplay, as Tony Stark doesnt actually have superpowers. a video game could be similar to Iron Man 3, in that parts of the game could have him without his suit, which could be stealth-oriented, and most of the game could have him in his IM suits.

also, since he is able to come up with so many inventions, the developers of the game wouldnt have to adhere to any specific abilities that he has. they can literally make stuff up and it would make perfect sense, as long as it is something that Tony Stark could develop.

So I hate to be a complete misogynist or sexist or whatever, but is Wonder Woman on this list because she has some super interesting powers or background, or because she's a woman?

In both cases, I say, you're wrong. She is a classic character (especially among bondage fetishists), but that's all she has going for her. Her powers aren't all that special, and her background is even less so.

If you want a good hero and it has to be a female, go with freaking She-Hulk or Spider-Woman. Heck, if it has to be a DC character, Zatanna would be an awesome choice. Heck, take one of the female members of the Bat family and ape the Arkham games. If they fire the guy who approved Catwoman's dialogue in Arkham City and they might have a shot at making a good female character.

One issue I have is that the comment about a superhero game having to be open world. Maybe a character that can fly or is heavily associated with a vehicle (someone like Ghost Rider for example) would probably need an open world game, but characters like Blade or Wolverine would probably work fine as a hack and slash type game. Others have mentioned other genres superheroes can go into (strategy/adventure). I think they should take a look at the character, see what elements of him/her they want to emphasize and see what genre fits.

If you ignore the last movie, Superman is about saving as much as possible. Not just people, but even attempting to reduce damage. This is how you make a good superman game. Yeah, you could plow through the wall and just pile-drive the bad-guys, but the collateral damage hurts people and causes the world to like you less. Make enough people dislike you, and Lex Luthor gets elected as Global Overlord and you lose.

Now on top of that, throw in that superman could be aware of every single crime, every single call for help, from torture going on in CIA black-sites to the little girl whose cat is up in a tree. Each mission has effects from how much a certain population likes you, as well as effects on the global political and economic scale.

Hell, make this a browser game and you could even have the actual fixing of the problem be off-screen. You just choose which missions you want to take, and how fast you want to do them.. the faster you do them, the more damage you cause, but the slower you do them, the more *other* crimes complete.. and of course, once people know that Superman could save you if he wanted to, whenever a crime is committed, Global Superman Appeal goes down.

To win, you have to keep Superman's appeal up high enough that Luthor doesn't get elected for long enough that you can find and stop his specific crimes in the never-ending scrolling list of crimes, and establish a trail back to him so nobody will ever vote for him.

In my opinion the greatest hurdle to most of these is the need to "fit" in the expected mook-smashing genre.

Superman, for example, could be perfectly doable (and by extension many others) if a big chunk of gameplay centered around Clark Kent. Maybe have it be a big sandbox game where you have objectives to fulfill using both personas, with different gameplay objectives and limitations (Say, working on the field with Jimmy Olsen by his side, something goes wrong and Clark must tackle the problem without Olsen ever seeing him use any powers).

Heck, superheroes do not always need to be about combat, there can be investigation, exploration, dialogue... But, as Shamus pointed out, no AAA publisher is going to tackle gameplay styles that aren't proven to be profitable. So bring on the mook-punchers.... Even though Saint's Row already beat all superhero games to the (nut) punch.

ccdohl:
So I hate to be a complete misogynist or sexist or whatever, but is Wonder Woman on this list because she has some super interesting powers or background, or because she's a woman?

In both cases, I say, you're wrong. She is a classic character (especially among bondage fetishists), but that's all she has going for her. Her powers aren't all that special, and her background is even less so.

If you want a good hero and it has to be a female, go with freaking She-Hulk or Spider-Woman. Heck, if it has to be a DC character, Zatanna would be an awesome choice. Heck, take one of the female members of the Bat family and ape the Arkham games. If they fire the guy who approved Catwoman's dialogue in Arkham City and they might have a shot at making a good female character.

The article practically ignores her, so I can't really speak to the author's intentions when all that was really stated was "Her canon is crap so it's plausible that she's weak enough to fight mooks".

However I would say that Wonder Woman is a far better choice than has been shown in the article. To create progression and weaken her you could say that something is draining the power of the gods, weakening them and thus her gifts greatly (For her classic origin wherein she's made of clay and is bestowed gifts by the gods and as such her powers are tied to theirs) or that the source of the gods power is being drained (for her current origin as a daughter of Zeus). Her power progression through the game is directly tied to restoring the power of the gods.

If you're going to go for a brawler like batman then you can easily do that, perhaps even better (although sans the stealth):
Wonder Woman has the lasso of truth, imagine all the cool combat options players could have with that.
She is proficient both in hand to hand combat and sword play.
Even though Wonder Woman can be as strong as Superman (although not the speed, although she is fast) she has a major weakness; "Sharp" objects. Hit Wonder Woman with a blunt object (a baseball bat, a crowbar, your fist) or an explosive (C4) and she'll be fine, but if you hit slice her or puncture her then she's in trouble (someone can stab her with a knife or get her with a sword, gunfire is a problem for Wonder Woman).
Remember those moments in the Arkham series where the mooks would have guns and you'd be in trouble? Well in those moments Wonder Woman has her wrist Braces/Vambraces/Shackles which she uses to deflect bullets, something she can do with a great deal of skill. Imagine a jedi who returns all the bullets fired at her with his lightsaber, except instead of a lightsaber it's wrist vambraces (never known the spelling for this word).

Shamus Young:
Green Lantern and his ring of "make any green shape you can imagine". Their powers work wonderfully in comic books where you have artists that are just looking for an excuse to draw something outlandish. In-game, those powers would translate to "magic missile" and "green fist" respectively. You could probably make a decent game out if it, but it would require taking away the wild, imaginative spark that makes them so interesting.

This would be a more valid complaint if the comics didn't already have exactly the same problem. Sure, in theory Green Lantern gives artists license to draw absolutely anything they can think of, but in practice there are an awful lot of big green fists involved. Maybe it would be more of a problem in a game, but given that it hasn't been a problem in any other medium so far I don't think it's a good reason not to try at all.

Are we ready for a game built around bullet-time?

Yes. It was called Max Payne and it was made over a decade ago. Just come up with some comicy reason why he can't stay in bullet-time all the time (green rock stole powers, aliens, magic, just learning, etc.) and that kind of gameplay is a perfect fit for the Flash.

Fanghawk:
The Punisher actually did have a game that (I felt) captured the character really well within the context of the Marvel Universe. It wasn't open-world, but there were a lot of interesting and humorously violent set pieces that really worked for the character.

This... And I would go on to say that I don't think he needs an open world game... The punishers world revolves around gaining information and taking down gangsters. All activity he has outside of that (especially in the Marvel Events) doesn't fit him, and turns him into someone he isn't.

Mission based gameply works best for him, with clevely planned levels, and maybe an element of stealth to set up his attack/getaway bofore hand. Wondering around a city as the punisher would just lead to boring 'slot the mugger' events popping up all over the place... Yawn...

Also... If they do make a new Punisher, they need Tom Jane back... I don't care what anyone says, to me he IS the Punisher outside of print!

Nightcrawler!

It's all about mastering the the teleport mechanic! It has it all: Mobility, combat, or just plain messing about!

I wonder, does NC need line of sight for a new jump point?

A stealth game where you play as Mystique would be cool. You'd be able to beat people up, but you're not -that- strong, so you'd be screwed if someone started shooting at you, forcing you to rely on your shape-shifting ability. Of course, you have to touch someone before you can take their shape, and then dispose of their dead/unconscious body to avoid compromising your disguise.

I was going to mention that Volition already made a game based on the Punisher, but I see that's already been said. So instead, here's another idea for Frank's next game outing:
Take the mask off, and Hotline Miami would work pretty well as a Punisher game. Relying on your wits to take down hordes of mooks who would destroy you in a straight fight? Check. A level of violence bordering on the ridiculous? Check. The sneaking suspicion that the main character isn't exactly the cover model for "Sanity Fair"? Check. Of course, it'd take a little more than that to justify a AAA price tag, so here's my idea: combine it with the kind of fighting you see in the Sherlock Holmes movies: the top-down trial-and-error gameplay is all in Frank's brilliant tactical mind visualizing what he's going to do, and once he comes up with a plan of attack that works properly (i.e. the player clears the level successfully), he executes in full 3D in a first-person runthrough along the path used to clear it, possibly dotted with QTEs for some of the more violent bits.

 Pages 1 2 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here