The recent success of Marvel's Spider-Man for the PlayStation 4 marked a new direction for Marvel branded video games. Marvel Games stated years ago when Marvel's Spider-Man was first revealed that they were now looking to partner with specific publishers and developers in hopes of creating high-quality video games for all of the most popular and beloved characters across the entire Marvel universe. It seems that the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe caused the company to rethink its strategy when it came to licensing out their characters. Gamers are currently looking forward to Square Enix's Avengers Project as well as the Nintendo Switch exclusive Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3.
With those games coming in the future it seems like a perfect time to take a look at all of the times the Marvel video game licensing partnerships went wrong. Not even 5 years ago we were seeing the license handed to whoever could produce a tie-in game with the license. That means that the focus for Marvel back then was having a video game product on shelves, not necessarily having one that was worth playing. That's probably why Marvel Games completely changed their strategy considering those games didn't meet the quality established by the MCU. We'll also look at some dream partnerships we wish were real or hope on seeing announced in the coming months and years. Here are 15 Marvel video games to avoid at all costs, as well as, 10 Marvel games we wish were real.
This list wouldn't feel right if we didn't start with Marvel's first family that seems to never catch a break in any medium outside of the ink and word bubbles. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer made plenty of its own mistakes and there's an easy case to say it was worse than its video game tie-in, but man is there a case for either of them. The video game featured generic brawler combat and the only interesting piece of gameplay was swapping between the four heroes to solve puzzles. If you enjoyed how bad the movie was, but you were bummed it was only 2 hours long, we've got a game for you.
More than 10 years after Robert Downey Jr.'s first outing as Tony Stark and on the cusp of Avengers: Endgame, the Marvel fandom is at an all-time high. Bioware's Anthem has shown players what a modern take on Iron Man could look and feel like from a AAA game developer.
Though we couldn't imagine anything involving Iron Man to be mediocre nowadays that wasn't always the case.
The 2008 movie tie-in game was an awkward mess of poor voice-work, clunky models, and odd gameplay that lacked tension or drama. Thankfully the film was a catalyst for a truly historic accomplishment in the world of film making.
Is it worse to be an outright terrible game or one that's so close to being good that it feels even more disappointing? The Amazing Spider-Man 2 game which, was, of course, a tie-in video game to Sony's sequel for Andrew Garfield's version of Peter Parker. The game was full of half-baked concepts and implementations that were likely the result of a rushed development cycle. This was near the end of the traditional licensed game buffet that had no end in sight. Companies realized that rushed tie-in games were missing the quality benchmarks consumers expected and it resulted in disappointing returns.
If you managed to get your hands on the new God of War in 2018 then you'd know just how special Kratos' leviathan ax felt. The melee combat feedback as well as the overall feel of recalling the ax after throwing it had fans everywhere yearning for a dream partnership with Marvel. The idea of using Sony Santa Monica's experience and craftsmanship to deliver the most authentic feeling of playing as Captain America and using his shield to its full capacity is mind-boggling. The chances of Marvel giving Sony two console exclusives is probably pretty unlikely, however.
It's a shame that it's 2019 and we've still never seen someone nail a game based on The Punisher. A character whose whole persona centers around guns and vengeance. There are plenty of talented and competent teams that have the experience to nail a game centered on the troubled Frank Castle. The Punisher: No Mercy was an arena shooter that showed promise but was hampered due to ultimately being a quick and short experience. The gameplay wasn't exactly terrible but it did feel like a mod of a classic PC shooter instead of a shooter built from the ground up. This should be the next property Marvel looks to find a partner for.
Though they're not a popular name, Massive Entertainment developed both The Division and The Division 2, as well as being attached as a studio working on Ubisoft's huge Avatar game in partnership with James Cameron.
Both of their games in the Division franchise showed they know how to make third-person shooters and create worlds full of espionage and secrets.
Marvel Games should approach Massive and see if they'd be interested in crafting a Black Widow game. It'd be interesting to see what they could produce if it was a single-player narrative experience focused on one character's journey.
Spider-Man made his first outing on the Atari back in 1982. It wasn't quite the seamless homecoming the web-slinger experience when he was introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The game was a buggy mess that left you frustrated constantly. It's the worst feeling in the world to work yourself up at the thought of saving the world as Peter Parker and suddenly be met with a lackluster experience. The gameplay manages to not only be repetitive but also expects the player to land pixel-perfect web shots in order to climb buildings. That's right, you couldn't simply crawl up them.
Over the years the X-Men have been mistreated and overlooked thanks to the amazing success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the ineptitude of Fox. Now that the X-Men are finally coming home and will be under the direction of Kevin Feige we may see them finally shown some respect.
Remedy Entertainment is a developer who's often overlooked and has delivered some high-quality games with interested gameplay mechanics.
Pairing an underappreciated weird studio with a bunch of heroes judged for being weird seems like a match made in Cerebro.
Not only was Thor: God of Thunder a disappointing game at release, 2018's God of War by Sony Santa Monica showcased what a talented and experienced AAA game studio could do with a great budget and some creative freedom. Thor: God of Thunder trades enemy palette swapping with size swapping instead. It's full of numerous glitches and bugs that only pile on to the repetitiveness of it all. Fans of Thor are looking for the Thor: Ragnarok of Thor video games. That movie managed to take a dull character and brighten him up with colorful action sequences and a little bit of improv comedy.
The Guardians of the Galaxy went from a C-tier obscure comic book team to one of the biggest brands and franchises of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. James Gunn, Chris Pratt, and company helped the world fall in love with the Guardians and made space fun and interesting in the MCU. Sorry, Thor. In order to deliver a great Guardians game, you need to have a developer that can deliver interesting worlds with big boss fights. Bungie seems to fit this mold perfectly. Also, they told great stories in their Halo days, and it seems Destiny's narrative flaws may have been a product of the Activision partnership.
Those of us who have played video games for a substantial amount of time knows the heartbreak of an over-promised game. This type of thing tends to happen most in open-world and role-playing genre games and can be a huge letdown.
X-Men: Destiny was billed as a dream mutant game where you would create a custom X-Men character and explore a narrative with consequences alongside your favorite mutants.
It turns out it was actually a game with limited character creation options, little meaningful X-Men interactions, in a world where your choices really didn't influence the overall story. What a bummer.
Though The Thing is a member of Marvel's first family that doesn't mean the game should move as slowly and cumbersome as a fatigued version of Ben Grimm. This game tarnished the Fantastic Four brand long before Fox's movies decided to. The combat animation moves at a snail's pace and the game itself runs as if it was developed for a potato. The game also has a unique art-style that makes details a thing of the past in exchange for a walking talking pickle in the form of secondary character She-Hulk. Are the Fantastic Four simply a cursed brand outside of the comic books themselves?
When it comes to the world of fighting games it seems that everyone has the franchise they connect most with. Older players will likely say Street Fighter is their thing, whereas the younger generations have grown up with Mortal Kombat. NetherRealm has been delivering quality Mortal Kombat games and even showcased their talent by delivering on Injustice and it's follow-up sequel by giving fans a stellar fighting game in the DC universe. Though NetherRealm is owned by Warner Bros. let's all dream for the impossible. A Marvel game developed by NetherRealm, in the vain of the Injustice franchise.
Captain America in: The Doom Tube of Dr. Megalomann not only gets the awards for the goofiest Marvel video game of all-time, but it also manages to have the chunkiest graphics you've ever seen. Sometimes you play a game and your initial impressions lead you to believe the game was rushed out onto shelves and it was simply unfinished, this is most certainly one of those games. The levels are very similar and the audio is some of the worst in games. The sound is very crunchy and the noises are poorly amplified. What did Captain America do to deserve this?
Though this game was designed for a younger demographic, it's really hard to get over the odd choice in art direction. All of the characters are in chibi-like forms and it really throws off the feel of the entire game.
The weird design choices are also partnered with a very lackluster presentation overall as well.
The game features no multiplayer modes or functions, which isn't too bad considering you'd just share the pain of poor game environments with another person. It also doesn't let you control the camera so you're often left to the mercy of the game.
Blade as a character is in an interesting place. Fans have been clamoring for the vampire-hunter to enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with Wesley Snipes even inquiring about reprising the role. Many fans feel that John Boyega is the likeliest candidate to take over for Snipes, despite his interest in returning.
This means it would be the perfect time to partner on a game featuring the hero where players could destroy tons of vampires.
Though FromSoftware isn't known for their visual polish, gamers would be excited to feel and experience a Blade game with the tight masterful combat by FromSoftware.
Currently, people are really upset with the way Electronic Arts has managed the Star Wars license in the video game space. Let's take you back to a time where EA made a Marvel fighting game and had the heroes fighting against enemies EA created called the "imperfect." Not only did EA create a boring and uninteresting set of villains, but they also decided it made the most sense to eliminate Captain America and the Hulk in the first 20 minutes of a Marvel-licensed video game. Hopefully, the next time we see a Marvel-licensed fighting game it's nothing like this entry and every bit as good as the Injustice franchise from NetherRealm.
Machine Games is responsible for bringing Wolfenstein into the modern era in a really strong way. Their ability to tell an engaging story while at the same time deliver a fictitious yet authentic-feeling war-setting full of kinetic and brutal gameplay seems perfect for Wolverine. Now, though Wolfenstein's gameplay emphasis is on guns, it does feature solid melee combat along with several melee weapons at B.J.'s disposal. A game with Wolverine needs to have storytellers who can portray a tortured soul while also showcasing the brutality of reality. Machine Games is more than capable.
When you decide to create a video game centered around one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel Universe you should understand the weakening of powers is going to be important.
Do you decide to go the Castlevania route where you show players full power shortly before writing in a reason they begin the game with little to no power?
Or do you simply crank up the difficulty and have them lose at the hands of a C-tier Kingpin henchman? A game that has good graphics and decent controls throws it all away with typical difficulty implementation.
Bioware's Anthem, whether it succeeds or ultimately fails, will have provided the gaming world with at least one special gift. It gave players the ability to experience what Bioware could deliver if it was tasked with creating an Iron Man game.
The javelins in Anthem feel exactly like what you would imagine controlling one of Tony Stark's suits would feel like.
The feedback and overall control of the suits have players drooling at the idea of a AAA Iron Man game on the current and next-generation of consoles. With Robert Downey Jr.'s run possibly over, an Iron Man single-player game could hold fans over during their time without him.
When you first hear the title you'd assume that you're in for a game with a mature setting that may feature gore or scenes of extreme violence. It turns out that the game itself is the biggest horror to the human eyes and experience. Plenty of games are comprised of a mediocre story and possibly weird difficulty curves, but few manage to bring those all together with a nice ribbon of permadeath. You better get good at the game or you just might reach the door of the final boss and realize the barrier in your way can only be removed by an X-Men hero you lost at the beginning of the game.
Mr. Shifty is a really neat indie game that found great success on the Nintendo Switch. Its main mechanic revolves around making the character you control phase shift through walls and other barriers. This means that they already have experience with the mechanics of a Nightcrawler game as well as plenty of ideas and experience when it comes to the implementation of solid game design. The cool thing with Marvel Games partnering with an indie studio is that we could see smaller projects with quicker turnaround in-between these massive AAA projects with major developers and publishers.
In 1989 there was one specific developer you could license your game to that would probably result in a disappointing product. That developer would be non-other than the now infamous LJN. The Uncanny X-Men was a Nintendo Entertainment System release in 1989 that features crunchy sprite work that truly made the X-Men uncanny while at the same time making it so every character practically looked the same. The Uncanny X-Men was developed primarily as a projectile shooter, which ended up making the gameplay of Wolverine and Colossus somehow feel worse than the rest of the game.
The Coalition is the studio that's responsible for continuing the legacy of the Gears of War franchise and is set to release Gears V in the Fall of 2019. Gears of War is a franchise that features gory third-person shooting and set the standard for cover-based shooters that has been the template for modern third-person cover-based shooters. A collaboration with Marvel Games on an ultraviolent Punisher game focused on the gameplay and gore seems like a match made in heaven. It would also provide Xbox with their own Marvel exclusive seeing as Xbox players missed out on Marvel's Spider-Man in 2018.
On the surface when you read that The Incredible Hulk: The Pantheon Saga centers around players taking control of the Hulk and helping him escape a desert prison facility in the middle of nowhere it sounds like you may have exciting times ahead. It turns out that if you mix this simple premise with numerous poorly executed game design decisions you'll probably go down as the worst Marvel video game of all-time.
How can you get a game about the Hulk and turn it into a snoozefest?
The game features a terrible fixed camera as well as an art-style where everything looks slightly tilted and messes with your depth perception. Don't get us started on the green mass labeled Hulk.