There has never been a better time to be a comic book fan. This summer alone will see the release of three superhero films that combined will make enough money to forever destroy the notion that comic book movies are unprofitable. Hell, The Dark Knight picked up an acting Oscar, the first comic book movie to do so.
It's just as rosy a time in the world of video games. The Batman: Arkham series has perfectly captured the dream of every teenager by letting you mimic the Caped Crusader flawlessly. The possibilities the game has opened up for other superhero game outings are staggering.
And yet...there remains the problem that has always plagued comic-based games. Usually they aren't based on comics so much as they are hastily thrown-together tie-ins for movies based on comic books. Since such games are pretty much scams designed to trick parents and non-gamer significant others into buying them as gifts, it makes the comic book game genre very much lopsided on the side of total suck.
However, there have been a few great ones in the past, and between emulators, online stores and a trip to Game Over, they can still be played. If you're looking for an old-school outing that lives up to the comic it's based on, try...
Not the most well-known or beloved comic strip ever, but the dream adventures of one little boy have somehow managed to stay in the public eye despite being more than a hundred years old. A 1989 animated adaptation revived interest in the franchise enough that Capcom released an NES version in 1990.
Capcom was already the best competition to Nintendo itself in terms of side-scrolling adventures, but Nemo upped the ante considerably. The game features Nemo using various animal friends like moles, frogs and gorillas to get past obstacles by bribing them with candy. It was an incredibly difficult game, and largely ignored since it came out around the same time as Super Mario Bros. 3.
Coincidentally enough, I still see aspects of Nemo in Mario games to this day, especially in the bee suit from Super Mario Galaxy.
Even more obscure than Nemo. I've never met anyone who had actually read a Turok comic book. The character, a Native American who lives in a lost land full of dinosaurs, aliens and demons, struggled back and forth amongst different publishers, but never really died. Dark Horse revived it as recently as 2010.
Gamemaker Acclaim banked all its money on an N64 adaptation on the book in 1997. For exclusively console gamers, Turok was likely to be your first real first-person shooting experience and Acclaim did not disappoint. Forgotten now since Goldeneye set the bar for FPS forever, the game was nonetheless an amazing out that remains the best dinosaur-based shooter ever made.
I was seriously torn here. I'm sure that someone will cut me in the comics for not mentioning the X-Men arcade game, and the rest will howl that I left out Spider-Man: Maximum Carnage. Well, I played the recently re-released X-Men game, and don't believe the hype. It was not as good as you remember. As for Maximum Carnage, it deserves huge props for being one of the only straight-from-a-comic-event adaptation, but that game never really feels like you're controlling Spider-Man instead of a generic Final Fight character.
Arcade's Revenge, however, brought stellar, if limited, web slinging into play, and gave you four X-Men to boot. Each character had different challenges to overcome in his levels, some of them really inventive, and the fact that Acclaim hinged it all on a fairly unknown villain only made it ballsier. The only downside of the game was that it may have been the single most difficult thing ever released on the SNES.
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Also, best video game soundtrack ever. If Rick James had produced a Joe Satriani album, this would've been it.
Back before he went insane, Frank Miller was simply put the best comic writer on the planet. Robocop vs. Terminator was no Dark Knight Returns, but it was a pretty badass book based around a showdown that anyone can get excited over.
The Virgin-produced Sega Mega Drive version is the better of the two, but there's nothing at all wrong with the SNES adaptation. In fact, depending on how dystopic a person you are, it may even be better. It's basically Double Dragon mixed with Contra, and aside from the Batman: Arkham games, no other game has made a gaming experience more fittingly resemble the actual character as you imagine controlling them would be like.