Last week, we talked about some of the best superhero games ever produced. Sadly, there’s a flip side to those stories: For every great comic book game, another would be a complete disaster thanks to rushed development or poor understanding of the source material. So in the interest of fairness, here are eight disappointing games even superheroes couldn’t save us from.
Are there any titles we spared you from? Share them in the comments!
Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis
When it comes to poor superhero reputations, Aquaman just can’t catch a break, and the disappointing video game certainly didn’t help matters. In short, this was an underwater combat title that controlled about as well as having an actual underwater fistfight. Combine that with less-than-stellar graphics, and you’ll probably agree watching Waterworld is more fun than playing this game.
Fantastic Four is one of the most important superhero books from Marvel Comics, but for some reason, adapting it rarely works out for anyone involved. The Fantastic Four video game is one such example, dropping its pulp heroes and space explorers into a hideous side-scrolling beat-em-up. While it made noble attempts to stick with comics continuity – such as making She-Hulk a playable FF character – it’s now remembered for poor visuals and gameplay instead. And what’s up with that bizarre soundtrack?
Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects
I quite enjoyed Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects, a PS2-era fighting game starring Marvel superheroes. But I’ll also admit to being in the minority for several valid reasons. First of all, Nemesis was overwhelmingly dark, wiping out several beloved characters shortly after the game started. (Which also ruled them out as playable characters.) Second, the game flipped back and forth between 3D fighting arenas and beat-em-up missions, without adjusting the controls or difficulty to suit each format. Most damningly, you have to replay the entire story campaign multiple times to unlock all Fighting Mode content, including the full character roster. That’s a slog whether you enjoy the game or not.
Still, Marvel Nemesis was a great example of how characters like Spider-Man, Storm, or Magneto could use their powers in a fighting game. Maybe one day the concept will get an Injustice-styled reboot.
Thor: God of Thunder
Marvel actually has licensed its cinematic universe to game developers, but unlike the movies, these outings usually failed to impress. But few tripped over themselves harder than Thor: God of Thunder, which was rushed to meet the film’s deadline and suffered as a result. The game was released in a buggy state, and its script and voice acting proved uninspired at best. Worst of all, you can see how Thor might have been a fun game with more development time, further proof that game and movie release dates shouldn’t mix.
Nobody expected much from this adaptation of an underwhelming film, but Catwoman managed to disappoint all the the same. It tried to merge the third-person gameplay of Tomb Raider with a Spider-Man-esque superhero setting, but kept tripping over it’s own camera and controls along the way. Which is too bad, considering Arkham City was able to do more with Catwoman in a subplot than this game achieved in its entire playtime.
Batman: Dark Tomorrow
The tragedy of Batman: Dark Tomorrow is that it actually had some interesting ideas which preceded the Arkham series by several years. Unfortunately, those elements were saddled with poor controls, lackluster combat, and various glitches which drove fans from the game. And if you did finish the game, you probably watched Batman die – there’s a hidden puzzle about deactivating explosives which most players missed entirely. In other words, you have to have Batman levels of obsession to even see the best ending without hints, and the game itself wasn’t worth the effort.
X-Men: Destiny already got off to a bad start by making you play as one of three original heroes – not the beloved mutants Marvel Comics fans loved. (Which actually might have been fine if you could’ve created your own character.) But it only went downhill from there as players found themselves in horribly repetitive combats across a series of lackluster environments. Its one interesting gimmick – collecting the powers of other X-Men – was quickly buried beneath uninspired gameplay and a troubled development history. Thankfully the game was pulled from store shelves in a court order, but it’s still a hard pill to swallow considering this game led to Silicon Knights closure.
Widely considered the worst superhero video game of all time, Superman 64 had a host of problems right out of the gate. It emphasized ridiculous timed events – such as flying through floating rings – over using a range of powers to save civilians. The controls were clumsily awkward, which never left you from feeling like a powerful comic book character. And even for its time, the game looks like an uncompleted demo, which it tries to brush off by setting Superman 64 in a virtual reality Metropolis. If you’ve ever wondered why developers rarely made Superman games after the 16-bit era, playing this game will quickly fill in the blanks.