With modern Marvel titles like Guardians of the Galaxy and Spiderman As they expand their influence into the gaming realm, it’s easy to forget excellent games that didn’t go over well the first time. Over the years there have been a multitude of games based on Marvel comics and films that are often overlooked.
Whether it was movie tie-ins like X-Men Origins: Wolverine or early computer games like Howard the Duck: Adventures on Volcanic Island, some of Marvel’s best video games have unfortunately fallen into oblivion. While they’ve produced a plethora of excellent games, only the best are worth a second look.
Howard The Duck: Adventures on Volcano Island (1986)
Long before Marvel were the hitmakers they are today, one of their earliest forays into the world of cinema was the particularly terrifying one Howard the duck Movie. Less well known than the film itself was a film connection game in which the titular bird hero attempted to rescue his friends after they were captured on Volcano Island.
The platform action game that landed on the Commodore 64 featured beautiful graphics that showed what the home computer could do in terms of gaming. Despite being criticized for being only 4 levels long, it was still a fun and challenging game. Unfortunately, it was doomed from the start by its association with the iconic stinker of a film.
Ghost Rider (2007)
The 2007 wrong way driver The film received a lukewarm reception from fans, and its lack of success has knocked out a very good film liaison game. The hack-and-slash epic sees the player as a Ghost Rider fighting Mephisto to save his soul.
The game deviates from the plot of the film and even features supporting characters like Blade. Based on some of the best hack and slash games of all time, wrong way driver was a fast-paced action-fest that never got boring. Unfortunately, as Spirit of Vengeance’s only full-time foray into video games, its 2007 release was overlooked.
The Incredible Hulk (1994)
The 16-bit era was a boom time for Marvel video games, and yet some amazing titles went unnoticed. The incredible Hulk sees the emerald monster weave its way through legions of troops to get to the leader.
The beat ’em up platformer made clever use of the Hulk mythos, causing it to start out in a “hulked out” state that slowly diminishes as the player takes damage. Eventually, the player can be exhausted down to their Bruce Banner form, where they are largely defenseless. The intuitive nature of the game suits the Hulk character perfectly, making it a rare title worth seeking out.
X-Men: Wolverine’s Rage (2001)
From the start it was clear that Wolverine was one of the best X-Men Characters of all time, and it was only natural for him to land his own video game titles. X-Men: Wolverine’s Rage was a Gameboy Color exclusive that saw the warrior with the claws battle Lady Deathstrike, who had developed a device to melt his adamantium skeleton.
To counteract Wolverine’s healing factor, the game makes the levels a speed run, and the added challenge keeps the game fresh. Side-scrolling beat-em-ups were the perfect style for Marvel games and Wolverine’s Rage didn’t disappoint even though it didn’t get the attention it deserved.
Captain America and the Avengers (1991)
Marvel has always had great success in arcades and Captain America and The Avengers was just another example of their reign. Cap assembles his team of Avengers as they weave their way through hordes of enemies to get to the Red Skull.
Capable of supporting up to four players, the original game featured a variety of well-known Avengers in fluid and entertaining action. Despite being overshadowed by more well-known titles, the game is still one of the best SNES games of all time.
Spider-Man: Mysterio’s Menace (2001)
The third in a series of hit Spider-Man games on the Gameboy Advance, Mysterio’s threat was one of Marvel’s best handheld titles. The scarlet-robed wallcrawler scours the city in search of Mysterio while smashing his way through his most famous foes.
The web mechanics were pretty fun to use, and the beat-em-up controls never felt stale or repetitive. The game offered the perfect challenge without being too easy or too difficult, and it was the usual pick-up-and-play style of most classic Gameboys. Although it was similar to the other two games, Mysterio’s threat was just as good as its predecessors.
The Punisher (2004)
Marvel games are typically family-friendly, but it was only fitting that their greatest antihero had a game as dark as him. The connection game from the movie The Punisher turned the violence up to 11 and saw Frank Castle torturing and murdering his way through a multitude of mobsters and villains.
Though some criticized the game for being a bit repetitive, the over-the-top action was one of its biggest selling points. While the film it was loosely based on has largely been lost to time, the game stands as a testament to the nearly limitless possibilities of Marvel’s video game excursions.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
While Wolverine had starred in his fair share of 2D side-scrollers in his day, X-Men Origins: Wolverine saw him get the hack and slash game he always deserved. Wolverine picks up the plot of the film of the same name and roams the globe in search of the people who made him what he is.
Utilizing all aspects of Wolverine’s powers in the game, he is able to sense traps and enter a rage mode that makes him more powerful. The game was known for its graphic nature and the overall experience was exactly what Marvel fans were looking for in a Wolverine game. The film blew through, but the game has since become a cult classic.
The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction (2005)
Most Marvel games up to this point have been linear in nature, but The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction allowed players to explore an open world environment. Players control the titular Hulk and attempt to assemble a machine capable of controlling Banner’s dark psyche.
Side missions add another level to the game and the player can upgrade the Hulk with new moves and abilities. While it didn’t grab the attention of its predecessor, many fans see it as a pinnacle in the Marvel gaming catalogue.
X-Men 2: Clone Wars (1995)
Unlike most other Marvel games, which were based somewhat on the legacy of the starring character, X-Men 2: Clone Wars took his story straight out of what was then the latest comic arc. When the X-Men learn about the Sentinel cloning device, they are dispatched to stop a deadly virus from spreading to different planets.
The controls were simple and fluid, drawing on the side-scrolling beat ’em up style that worked so well on the Sega Genesis. The game featured a variety of playable characters, including Magneto, and each character had special mutant attacks that were unique to them. Though eclipsed by its much more successful predecessor, X Men 2 is still one of the best games with the heroes of the same name.
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