Retro gaming, four of a kind: retro Marvel games inc. Spider-Man 2, The Punisher and more

Posted on 26 November 2015
By James Brookfield
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Last Friday Jessica Jones, the latest entry of the Marvel/Netflix TV partnership after Daredevil, became available; receiving instant, critical acclaim and just yesterday, the official first trailer for Captain America: Civil War dropped onto the internet, setting social media ablaze.

Effectively this week has been full of Marvel-based news. As a result this week’s Four of a Kind will focus on the top retro Marvel video games. Spider-Man, released on Playstation and Dreamcast, does not feature on the list not because it is a poor game but due to appearing on a previous edition.

1. Captain America and The Avengers (NES, SNES, Mega Drive, Game Boy, Game Gear)

Originally an arcade game Captain America and The Avengers eventually began porting onto home consoles from 1991. The game is a side-scrolling beat ‘em up featuring four-player co-operative. Players can choose between Captain America, Vision, Iron Man and Hawkeye in order to battle iconic villains such as; Klaw, Whirlwind, the Mandarin, Ultron, Crossbones and Red Skull.

The game also includes special cameo appearances by Wasp, Nomor, Wonderman and Quicksilver via the utilisation of special attacks. Most level allowed for free movement, within the side-scrolling constraints, though players can take flight for side-scrolling flying and shooting sequences. Iron Man and Vision fly use their own abilities, whereas Cap and Hawkeye are aided by flying machines.

Each console version respectively recreates the arcade feel of the original whilst visuals remain faithful to the comic book style.

2. The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction (Gamecube)

Developed by Radical Entertainment and published by Sierra Entertainment The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction is both a faithful representation of one of Marvel’s most iconic characters and a great opportunity for fans to experience what it is like to be the man you wouldn’t want to see angry.

Released in 2005 the game is an open-world adventure loosely based on different plots from the comic books and tropes of the animated series. For example the story is written by Paul Jenkins, former Hulk writer, and Neal McDonough reprises his role as Eric Bana from the latter.

The graphics are average but do capture a comic book style. Gameplay is simplistic and at times repetitive, mostly during battles, however the abilities to; jump high, smash building, pick up military vehicles and general Hulk qualities create an overwhelmingly fun experience.

3. The Punisher (Playstation 2)

If Hulk: Ultimate Destruction allows fans to immerse themselves within a true Hulk experience then The Punisher creates the same feel for fans of the anti-hero.

The plot is a loose mixture of the 2004 film and Vol. 4 and Vol. 5 of the comic books. Though the graphics are blocky the gameplay combines aspects of the Max Payne series mechanics, stealth elements and violent brutality. However it is quite monotonous and linear as violence is the main focus. For instance the game includes a variety of controversial interrogation techniques in a way Frank Castle would only perform.

In order to remain faithful to The Punisher and Marvel Universe the game also has special cameos from other well-known characters such as; Matt Murdock, Kingpin, Bullseye, Iron Man, Black Widow and Nick Fury in a way that does not feel forced.

Lastly the sound effects are poor but the voice acting is brilliant.

4. Spider-Man 2 (Playstation 2)

Spider-Man 2 is often heralded as the best comic-book inspired video game. Moreover the game breaks the norm as it is not an awful film-tie. The reason for this is it manages to correctly capture web-slinging mechanics, attaching to buildings rather than the sky, and Spidey’s humorous quips.

Treyarch accurately recreates New York for the player to freely roam around Manhattan, Roosevelt, Ellis, and Liberty Islands in an open world setting. The environment is huge and detailed, including the more obvious and subtle landmarks of the Big Apple. Spider-Man 2 combines the film’s plot with original story point to prolong time frames and include characters such as Black Cat, Shocker and Rhino.

A strong, positive aspect of the game is the non-linear feeling as players can choose to follow the story, complete side quests, though limited and tedious, or simply enjoy web-slinging throughout the Big Apple.

That conclude this week’s Four of a Kind. As always feel free to leave a comment discussing the game above or mention any games that have been omitted from the list. To paraphrase Stan Lee, Goodbye true believers!

Honourable Mentions: Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage (SNES, Megadrive), X-Men 2: Clone Wars (Megadrive), X-Men: Children of the Atom (Sega Saturn), X-Men : Arcade Game, The Punisher (1993 arcade/home ports) and Marvel vs Capcom 2 (Dreamcast, Playstation 2).