Saturday, August 29, 2009

Saturday Soapbox

So here's something new I'll be doing every Saturday. Mostly it'll be complaining fun stuff. I'm going to kick things off with a fun list - who don't like lists!?!

The Ten Best Superhero Games of All Time!!

Superheroes are a subject that's very near and dear to my heart, I've read millions of comic books, watched tons of cartoon and bought piles of crap to prove it. Well, maybe not to prove it but I think it's an undeniable byproduct. With the release of arguably the best comic book hero game of all time, Batman: Arkham Asylum, on the X360 & PS3 this past week I got to thinking; just what are the best of the superhero game lot anyway?

There have been so many clunkers in the genre (if you want to call it that) it might be hard to even come up with ten, but I'll give it a shot. Now, it should be noted, I'm not including any 'made-up' heroes in this. Not that they're not all made up but you get the point. You won't find any inFamous or [prototype] here.

On to it!

10./  Batman The Animated Series - SNES

This was one of the first superhero games that I didn't find a chore to play. It was stylish, had all the great characters that were in the show and was easy enough to pay but not a push over either. The animation and the art are really great, that's what I remember most about it. The gameplay was pretty standard 'beat em up' stuff but with some puzzle elements and gadgetry thrown in for good measure. I think the fact that the whole feel of the game is right in line with the BTAS show that was soooo popular at the time of release (and still is today) helped to really overshadow it's shortcomings. I still play this one today, good stuff.

9./  X-Men Legends/Legends 2: Rise of Apocalypse - Multi

A super-hero RPG that was a dream come true. This is the type of game that I always thought 'fit' best with comic book heroes. There's plenty of room for character development and interaction as well as loads of action and button mashing a plenty. A monster roster of X-Men to choose from and the ability to craft your own strike teams of four heroes was fantastic and very refreshing. The control was tight but the graphics did leave something to be desired. Same goes for it's sequel, rise of Apocalypse. Both great games.

8./  Spider-Man - Sega CD

Yes, Sega CD. I don't even know how many of you are going to remember this one. It's honestly a very standard beat em up, with one major addition- Spider-Man. All of Spidey's signature powers are here and accounted for, the graphics were sharp (for the time), and the villains and story points were awesome. I'm not even really sure what it was that they bottled with this one but none of the subsequent super-hero game on any other platform had this kind of appeal. If you've never played it, do yourself a favor and track down a copy.

7./ Superman: Shadow of Apokolips - PS2

SoA actually got pretty bad reviews but I enjoyed it for a few things that it really does well. It's a decent Superman game, those are few and far between, it also has the complete cast voices of the Superman Animated Series (a great companion to the Batman show... and almost as good), and a cool Superman story to boot. That stuff aside, the controls are not bad at all and Big Blue's powers are all here and accounted for (and put to good use too!). The graphic style is animated, semi-cell shaded stuff and is quite serviceable. I have no clue why this game didn't do better in the press or on the shelves. It's no ground-breaker but if you're a Super-fan, this is your best choice for a game version.

6./ Justice League Heroes - Multi

Much like the X-Men games, JLH is an action RPG the breaks up the larger team into a customizable smaller group for play. The only real difference is that you can only have teams of two instead of four. I wish they would have gone with four to be honest but the balance is fine and it's fun anyway. Same formula as X-Men, but insert the Justice League. And that's why it's ranked higher.

5./ Spider-Man - Playstation/Dreamcast

This game took over my life and demanded I stick with it till I was done. No breaks for you! I loved everything about it, and much the same as the Sega CD outing- this game has all the Spider-trimmings you could ask for. Powers, villians, cameo heroes(!), story - it's all here along with a terrific control sceme that hasn't been done as well in any Spidey game since. The very ending is a goofy dope-fest (don't worry, it doesn't ruin anything) but everything else is golden. Spider-Man might be one of my faves of all time.

4./ Batman Vengeance - Multi

Take one part of #10 and one part of #7 and you get a game that's better than both. Batman Vengeance is a third person action game but has the look and the feel of the animated show. Although it's almost all action and makin' with the punchy-punchy-kicky, it excels in the storytelling and feel to such a degree that it really is like playing through an episode of the cartoon. Excellent stuff all around and head and shoulders above the horrible sequel: Rise of Sin Tsu.

3./ Hulk: Ultimate Destruction - Xbox

I had no idea I would like this game so much. It's basically just running at super speeds, jumping hundreds of feet into the air, destroying everything around you... why didn't I think I'd like Hulk again? The game is the essence of what makes the Hulk character so much fun boiled down into a playable form. It's great. And it even has a suitably comic-booky story to go along with the total non-stop action!

2./ Marvel Ultimate Alliance - Multi

Take the now tried and true X-Men Legends formula and add loads of Marvel super-heroes and villians and an epic summer-crossoveresque storyline and what do you get? The best super-hero 'team' game of all time. The groups that you can make (remember, four characters at once) range from the Avengers to the Fantastic Four to the X-Men and anything you want in between. You'll go up against Dr. Doom, Loki - even freakin Galactus! MUA is a fanboy's dream come true- can't wait for the sequel.

and finally, shocking to no one:

1./ Batman: Arkham Asylum - Multi

There has never been a game based on a comic book property that has gotten it this 'right'. Based on the comic book itself and not a cartoon or movie, BAA has the look and the gameplay to be a sleeper for the game of the year. The direction is top notch and the story and acting (Mark Hamil & Kevin Conroy!) is spot on perfect! Just as Marvel Ultimate Alliance is hero-team perfection, Arkham has solo action down to a science. There is crime solving (imagine that, detective work in a Batman game...), there's action, there's gadgets galore! I could go on about the experience that is Batman: Arkham Asylum for a while so I want to cut this here, but before I do - A note to all the publishers out there * Make superhero games based on the comics! The original stories are the best ones. You don't need to come up with 'fresh takes' or plumb the depths of cartoons and movies (as good as they might be). You've got years, sometimes decades, of creativity and depth right in front of you! Make games based on the original comics! Okay, that's all. I'm off of the soapbox.

I just wanted to mention a few honorable's here. Games that I didn't quite think should make the list but one's that were pretty good anyway:

Hellboy: Science of Evil
The Darkness
Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe
Wolverine Origins
If you can think of any more that deserve a nod, email me and I'll post them here with your email or gamertag/profile as a tip 'o' the cap
Now before I end things I just wanted to note that the worst superhero game I've ever played is X-Men on the NES. It was absolutely horrible and had next to nothing to do with the X-Men. B-R-utal.