What A Licensed Superhero Game Needs to Work - rhotaphota Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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What A Licensed Superhero Game Needs to Work

 

 

There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of interesting costumed heroes and villains that have decades of storylines and powers that would be a good deal of fun in a video game. That raises the question: Why is Batman the only superhero that's had any number of critically acclaimed games? He doesn't even have super powers, which would logically be the most entertaining part of the game. The answer is that people actually put effort into this game. They mixed good story with a good setting, good gameplay, and good characters. I don't think there's any reason that another great comic book hero like Superman or Captain America can't also have a quality game, and here are some of the rules they should go by:

 

1-      Stay true to the character

 

One of the most important things that licensed super hero games usually get wrong is having a character that doesn't stay true to the comic books. Superman is not going to be taken down by some random thugs, and cheapening the characters powers might alienate fans of the comics. We don't need there to be "kryptonite fog", or for all the enemies to be super powered or something else stupid. Some concessions must be made for the sake of gameplay, but they should be innovative. For example, in the video game based on the 2006 flop Superman Returns, the health meter wasn't for Superman's health, it was for destruction to the city and how much was acceptable. Something along those lines would be more plausible than Superman being taken down by a random crack head.

2- Good cast

 

What is a hero without his villains? Batman Arkham City had a whole cast of villains, some of whom had very little to do with the story, but their inclusion was still cool for comic fans. If we're going to see a Spider-Man game, and the main villain is Dr. Octopus, I want to see Venom or Hydro-man, even if it's just for a quick cameo. Also, a good supporting cast is necessary. If we were to playing a Spider-Man game, we would need an appearance from Mary Jane.

3-References to the larger universe

 

Both the DC and Marvel universes are huge and have hundreds of characters to populate dozens of named locations each. If you're playing an Iron Man game, maybe you can cross paths with Thor, or one of the other Avengers.  Or if you're playing a Fantastic Four game you could run into a group of X-Men who are on their own mission. Just something to make the player think that the story of the game is just one of many going on at the same time, just like in comics. If there were multiple games that were set in the same huge universe, there could even be huge event crossovers, just like the kind that comics are so fond of.

4- Gameplay

 

Gameplay is paramount to a good super hero video game. You want to actually feel like the hero you are playing if you want to enjoy the game, and it should feel authentic to the character. You should feel like Iron Man, Green Lantern, Wolverine, Wonder Woman, and so forth.  Superman should basically be a god, and Captain America should realistically be a trained man in peak physical condition. The Arkham Games did a good job of making the player feel like Batman- you had his strength, his weaknesses, his gadgets, and the games even delved deep into Bruce Wayne's psyche to show us what kind of man he is. We need to feel that connection with the player's character.

 

5- Setting

 

Setting is so important in comic books that the cities the heroes inhabit  are synonymous with the characters. Batman has Gotham, Superman has Metropolis, Spider-Man has New York, Iron Man has New York, Punisher has New York, Daredevil has New Yor- Wow, really? The entire Marvel Universe is in New York apparently. I guess crime doesn't occur anywhere else.  Anyway, back on track, setting is important to the game. Whether it's the grim, claustrophobic that Arkham Asylum has, or the futuristic but still grounded in reality that Metropolis should have. The setting should fit the overall tone of the game, whether it's grim, hopeful, adventurous, or humorous.

 

 

There have been some good licensed super hero games, (Spider-Man 2, The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, The Marvel Ultimate Alliance games) but the characters deserve more than the treatment they've gotten. Unfortunately, most super hero games are usually movie tie-ins, or so rushed that they are obviously cash grabs.  I hope that eventually other super heroes get a game to the quality of the Arkham games. Thanks for reading, leave any feedback in the comments!

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