At one time or another, we’ve all been asked the following question: If you could have any super power, what would it be?
Countless hours have been wasted on discussing this topic. Many people will say that they want to be able to fly but that’s too easy isn’t it? Another popular answer is X-Ray vision, but that comes with a negative connotation that you’ll use your new found powers in unsavory ways.
Here at Pixelitis, we’d rather just play games to satisfy our super power fix. There’s a long history of very good (and very, VERY bad) superhero games that truly capture the feeling of wearing the colorful spandex suits of our idols. Later this week, we’ll be able to satisfy our gadget-wielding urge when Batman: Arkham Origins hits stores, which promises to be another excellent entry in the series.
So we got to talking about our favorite superhero games of all time. And since we respect our readers so much, we promise not to lie to you and put Superman 64 on this list. That game is no one’s favorite.
Best Superhero Game: Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3
I’d be lying if I didn’t choose this as my favorite superhero game of all time. It deserves to win based on the sheer number of hours I’ve spent with the series.
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is interesting because it doesn’t even pretend to be balanced, at least not by conventional means. Instead, Capcom just gives every character a bunch of ridiculously good tools, which makes the game look so out of control. It’s the only game in the genre with this kind of chaos on screen.
Of course, it helps that the game features basically every notable Marvel superhero, including my personal favorite Doctor Doom. Plus there’s a bunch of inclusions that most people will have never heard of like Rocket Raccoon and Nova, who are both loads of fun. Actually, the whole damn game is fun. In fact, I’m going to go play it now.
- Ken Smith
Best Superhero Game: Spider-Man 2
When a player is given the role of a famous superhero, the game’s only real job is to make gameplay suited around their respective powers. Batman needs narrow, dark corridors with unsuspecting thugs. Wolverine needs foes for his claws to shred. And Spider-Man needs the entirety of New York City to swing around in. Thankfully, Spider-Man 2 gives you just that.
Spider-Man 2‘s web swinging mechanic requires players to actually aim their web shots from building to building. This swinging is further helped by an impressive physics engine that really involves the player in Spider-Man’s preferred means of transportation. The game’s combat and missions are also fun, but the web-swinging remains the most lauded part of the game. The developers knew exactly how everyone played with their Spider-Man action figures and made a game to trump that.
- Stephen Hilger
Best Superhero Game: Batman Returns (SNES)
Batman Returns was my favorite Batman movie growing up, and Konami’s beat-em-up videogame tie-in on the SNES, coupled with the coverage it got in a 1992 issue of Nintendo Power, only heightened the fervor I had for it.
The game played nearly like a clone of Final Fight. Batman could jump, attack, throw batarangs, automatically grab enemies and utilize his batcape as a weapon that shaves off a bit of his health. Grabbing ahold of enemies never got old; it was especially satisfying to be able to bash two enemies’ heads together and chuck The Penguin’s circus henchmen into walls.
Levels were divided up among beat-em-up affairs that let you walk from the background to foreground, 2D platforming levels that had you rely on your batclaw to shimmy along and the quintessential Batmobile chase sequence.
The game managed to follow the film’s story quite well, albeit it with a number of diverging moments in order to lengthen the experience. Also notable was its use of cutscenes featuring stills taken right from the movie. The game’s soundtrack, handled by Jun Funahashi, Harumi Ueko and Kazuhiko Uehara, featured surprisingly faithful conversions of Danny Elfman’s original movie score.
I particularly liked the game’s attention to even the most minute details in its cutscenes. One example that sticks out in my mind is at the end of the game’s second level, where you fight a clown that’s assaulting Selina Kyle. Here, Batman can optionally use his batclaw to hook into the wall behind the clown and tug at it, causing a portion of the wall to come off and deal a significant amount of damage to the boss. The damage to the wall is then shown in the next cutscene that plays.
- Patrick Kulikowski
Best Superhero Game: Marvel Pinball
My personal favorite, the Iron Man table, is a very clean table donned in that famous red and gold trim. I love futuristic technology, and mixing that with the classic pinball tables makes for an interesting display. Playing through the table, you get to do missions against Iron Man antagonists Mandarin and Whiplash.
Defending New York as Spider-Man or defeating vampires as Blade never felt so good. There’s a table for every Marvel superhero fan out there. And while you don’t actually play as any of the characters, you can sure feel super when you’re racking in millions of points and smashing down your friend’s high scores.
These are not simple simulations of real pinball machines. To add to the visuals, Zen Studios went further than what we would get to see in real pinball machines. You can see Tony Stark put on his Iron Man armor as he gets ready to battle and watch Thor fight against Loki, showing him triumph or lose depending on how well you play.
For those that want a bigger selection of tables, all the of Marvel Pinball tables have been ported to Zen Pinball II, where players can also get some very fun Star-Wars themed tables. Hey, Jedis can be superheroes too, right?