Pixelitis Picks: Comic book “heroes” that deserve a good game

Photo by Patrick Guaschino

Superheroes in comics have it pretty rough. They deal with exorbitantly high expectations, their enemies keep getting out of jail or coming back from the dead and after all that, they usually can’t bathe in the limelight long enough to enjoy it before some other d-bag shows up.

Even worse, some of them have had the misfortune of getting seriously bad videogame adaptations or no adaptations at all. Superman 64 and nearly every Batman game until Arkham Asylum come to mind. In one case, a bad game sullies a character’s name, while no game keeps their existence further in obscurity.

So for this week, in honor of this past weekend’s New York Comic Con and the upcoming Deadpool game, some of the Pixelitis staff have given some love to some misrepresented or completely ignored characters of the comic book world.

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John Constantine deserves a chance in games.

There are as many varieties of super heroes as there are obscure flavors of ice cream, so narrowing down the one that we devote our full attention to can be a difficult process. This is how it is for picking which super hero should get a game next, since the possibilities are nigh on infinite, with creative possibilities and hilarious spin-offs populating the imagination of most any comic and videogame enthusiast.

However, as much fun as an over-powered Hulk would be, I think it may be time for some subtlety. A man like John Constantine would be a perfect candidate for an L.A. Noire/Grand Theft Auto escapade.

Constantine may have the reputation as the world’s most powerful magician, but he manages to avoid flaunting it when he can, instead relying on his razor-sharp with and cunning mind to deal with the demons and devils sent his way. Preferring to outwit them rather than overpower them, a game involving him would involve an inherent balance between the flashy spells and the more intellectual moments.

For the player controlling Constantine, there would be a constant conflict between using your spells, or figuring out a way through your problem without having to rely on them. In this manner, players will have a degree of freedom in their play-styles, allowing for a level of customization within the game. For example, do I set fire to this demon and risk him tearing my legs off and beating me to death with them, or do I sweet talk him into a deal that get’s me what I want with no harm done to anyone? Either way would make for two completely unique experience.

Add to this an open world mechanic that would allow Constantine to pursue his own lines of demon-inquiries down the shady London alleys, with the possibility of malicious demons or delinquent drunks popping out of the woodwork, would add tension to keep the game consistently engaging. Along with Constantine’s talent for banter, every situation would have multiple solutions. Either talk your way out of it, or blast your way out of it.

For a cheesy effect, cigarettes would be health packs, and booze his magic packs. A grungy anti-hero game would supplement the popularity of the over-powered superhero, since it shows the player that a heart of gold bundled up in cynicism and a little magic can be just as useful as being able to call down lightning.

- Tom Farndon

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The Punisher deserves a second chance in games.

“They laugh at the law. The rich ones who buy it and twist it to their whims. The other ones, who have nothing to lose, who don’t care about themselves, or other people. All the ones who think they’re above the law, or outside it, or beyond it. They know all the law is good for is to keep good people in line. And they all laugh. They laugh at the law.”

“But they don’t laugh at me.”

For many years, we as gamers have endured the silent, faceless protagonist in our shooters. All we had was our weapons and a gallery of bad guys to blow away.

If Frank Castle, aka The Punisher, was given another shot to terrorize the gangbangers and general scum of the Earth with his overkill brand of vigilante justice, we’d have a compelling motive for the violence.

For the uninitiated, Castle was a decorated Vietnam veteran, a hero and at one point, a family man. I say “at one point” because while on leave with his wife and two children, he went to Central Park in New York City where the family comes across a mob hit in progress. Fearful of any witnesses, the thugs shoot the Castles, failing to make sure the 6’1″, 200 pound brute of a man was down for the count.

And that’s how Frank Castle, formerly known as Francis Castiglione, becomes the one man army known as The Punisher.

Now, I’m not going to lie. I liked the game that came out in 2005 for the PlayStation 2 and the original Xbox. Interrogations were brutal, the particularly gruesome kills fit Castle’s methods and there were amazing set pieces, including one that took place in a funeral home with a fully automatic M60.

What the game didn’t do well, however, was the shooting. After a while, it felt like every other third-person shooter that came out at that time. Clunky movement and some very “meh” boss fights really marred the experience.

That’s why I think my perfect adaptation of The Punisher would rejuvenate the character more than any campy flick could ever do.

In my version, survival and situational awareness would play a major role. After all, Castle is a highly decorated Vietnam vet/Black Ops trainer. Tactics play well into the Punisher’s survivability, so it should be rewarded in the game. Throw in a little Metal Gear Solid 3-style medical skills like setting bones and stitching up wounds, and you could have the be-all, end-all Punisher game.

He may be just a man with a vendetta, some military training and a metric butt ton of guns, but Frank Castle’s quest to rid the streets of the gutter slime that’s corrupting them would flourish in this generation.

 - Andrew Martins

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The cast of V for Vendetta deserves a chance in games.

Okay—I’ll admit, I am not much of a comic book guy. If I had to pick any one superhero I liked, it would probably be Spiderman because of the cartoons I watched as a kid, not because of the comics. And, well, don’t hate me, but I haven’t played Batman: Arkham City or Asylum. Hold your shock and awe; I know they’re considered some of the best comic book videogames of all time. I’ve been told a thousand times, trust me, but I just don’t care about comics and superheroes.

That being said, one graphic novel I have read sticks out in my mind—probably because it’s so similar to one of my favorite novels, Nineteen Eighty Four. That graphic novel, of course, is V for Vendetta by Alan Moore.

V, the mysterious Guy-Fawkes mask wearing anarchist, has a lot of traits that would translate well into videogames: he is quick, silent, and an uncompromising super-human killer that wields a pair of daggers.

Gameplay could revolve around V taking out government officials in a similar fashion to the novel. Sneaking into the Bishop’s mansion, capturing Lewis Prothero and driving him insane, and storming the broadcasting/propaganda spewing “Mouth” of the government to convey his message to the masses. Hell, there could even be quite a powerful flashback sequence that I won’t spoil here. With the recent release of Dishonored and its focus on free roaming gameplay, an open-ended approach would be great for V’s sections of the game.

I say V’s sections because there are other primary characters that play a large role in the story. Eric Finch—serving as a sort of detective for the government—could have sections playing out where he’s searching for V and revealing clues relating to V’s background and story. Evey Hammond could also have sections where she’s “training” to see the world as it really is, eventually becoming ready to take a stand.

The game would have to be a small, story driven title a-la-Uncharted. Really, I’m surprised V for Vendetta doesn’t already have a videogame; the Guy Fawkes look inspired by V has taken hold around the world. Indeed, the graphic novel had an arguably decent movie made starring the always lovely Natalie Portman. There could have easily been a Hollywood tie-in cash grab game made. I am, however, glad I’m writing this about having a V for Vendetta game period, and not a bit about having an actually good V for Vendetta game.

- Lowell Bell

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Carmen Sandiego deserves another chance in games.

Carmen Sandiego has only a handful of comics that were released by DC comics, but she’s still an iconic character in my eyes.

With the Carmen Sandiego series established as a series of edutainment computer games and choose-your-own adventure books, making the next one as a roguelike game only makes sense.

Just think about it. You play as a top grade investigator that got hired to look into the biggest heist your town has ever seen. Once on the scene, the first clue you find would naturally be signed “Carmen Sandiego”.

Each area would play out as a point-and-click adventure game. Clues may be hidden around. There are people to talk to around town for further information, but don’t forget that not everyone likes investigators.

From that point forward, moving to another part of town would be done by opening your map and choosing from various available locations to go to next. Maybe you got a clue that leads you to a specific area, or maybe you need to stop by the local “Investigator’s Office” and invest in better tools.

Managing the time spent searching, along with going back to upgrading tools, could directly cause either the capture or the evasion of Sandiego. For example, you might think rushing to find Carmen’s location may be a good idea, but all this time is wasted if you don’t have the right tools to capture and arrest her.

As a roguelike game, there is no such thing as permanent saves, and every game is different with randomly generated locations and clues. All your actions cost precious time. This ensures that players will play through the game multiple times before finding the right blend of upgrades and investigation.

Upgrading, as I mentioned earlier, would be bought by using “Investigation Points,” which are gained by bringing back clues to the office. In trade, players get better equipment such as glasses that are used to read invisible ultraviolet ink, or to upgrade your speech skill to be able to collect information from civilians more efficiently.

And that’s just for starters. Playing through the game over and over would net you new costumes. These costume come with unique traits and perks which can then be used to ease the collection of information and clues.

In the end, you could say this is just a glorified choose-your-own adventure game, but that notion has worked well in the past, and there’s no need to fix what isn’t broken.

- Allain Richard

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Author: Pixelitis Staff View all posts by

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