SEGA’s license pact with Marvel was a prime example of how the game industry tends to treat movie licensed properties these days. They sell the license to a game company to promote the movie. Game company turns around and uses their B and C (and sometimes D) teams to work on said games and hope they can come up with at least a half decent effort. Then the game is released just before the movie hits theaters whether it’s ready to go or not. Many times, they fail even to get to that half-decent point.
But this doesn’t mean that all movie licensed games have to stink. Sometimes, you get the right development team with the right goal in mind and you get something of quality. Sometimes, a game is almost crap, but you can see a little bit of gold in that turd. But sometimes, crap is just crap no matter what angle you look at it. What better example of this is there than with these five Marvel Studios movie licensed games released by SEGA. And what better time to “reminisce” over these games than with today’s movie release of The Avengers in American theaters. Read on to see which one I find is the best quality to which one I think is total, unredeemable crap.
Captain America: Super Soldier
While Aki doesn’t share my views on this game, I think that Next Level games did an outstanding job putting together a great action game. While many of these Marvel games used other gameplay ideas, they usually did a fairly poor job. However Captain America steals the best ideas from Arkham Asylum (Combat and taking place in one large castle area) and make it work. There’s also a little Prince of Persia in Cap’s athletic platforming. If there’s anything bad I could say about the game, it’s that taking place mostly in a fortified castle can lead to drab environments from time to time. But this is the only bad thing I can say. Hell, it’s the only PS3 game I played to death until I got a platinum. Hell, even the Wii/3DS version ain’t half bad.
Already, this where things start to go downhill. Iron Man was SEGA’s first Marvel game released. It felt a bit more polished than most of the games released later. The main gameplay itself was pretty good . The way you controlled Iron Man was more original than the other Marvel games. He could fly, hover and land doing many different combat maneuvers in any of those ways. The controls made you feel like Iron Man which is what worked the best. However, the levels got fairly repetitive fast. Usually doing the same “destroy everything in this area” mission over and over. What really killed the fun though was that every enemy on screen was firing at you at once! Even if they were hundreds of feet away. Imagine flying through the air. You’re mission is to take down enemy missiles and encampments, only to have dozens of missiles and bullets firing at you from all directions at once. It made the game spike up in difficulty at inappropriate times. Sometimes, the earliest levels became as difficult as the ones near the end, leading to some very frustrating moments. All-in-all, the game wasn’t half bad but could have been much better.
The Incredible Hulk
Developer’s Edge of Reality copied Radical Entertainments awesome “Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction” Game in almost every way possible right down to Hulks own leaping animations. But still, they only managed to barely make a half-decent game. Hulk’s rampaging path managed to destroy objects even if you were 5-10 feet away from it. Destroying the city and knocking down skyscrapers is still fun, but it’s obvious there wasn’t enough time to finish the game proper. Pop-up is everywhere and when you go to a high enough skyscraper, the rest of the city looks almost as bad as an N64 Superman game with zero textures on the buildings themselves. The Wii and PS2 versions suffered even worse. Recommended only to the most die-hard Hulk fans. Otherwise, stay away.
Thor: God of Thunder
This is where things start to really get bad. So far we’ve gone from “Great” to “Decent” to “Meh”. Thor is just plain bad. Liquid Entertainment tried to make a half-decent God of War clone. They couldn’t even get to half. The game redefines repetitive in a way that even Iron Man could not match. Thor goes to an enclosed arena with a small assortment of frost giants, beats them up and goes to the next arena. Rinse and repeat several times over. You don’t even see any other enemies other than frost giants for at least an hour in. Add to that the worst frame rate I’ve seen in a console game (about 15-25 fps) which gets even worse in it’s poor 3-D and you’ve got a really poor excuse of a licensed game. The only saving graces are the halfway decent Wii/3DS version (click either one for their respective reviews) and the much better DS game by Wayforward. Those two versions are the only thing keeping this game from the bottom of the barrel. So what could be worse than this poor excuse of a game?
Iron Man 2
If any licensed game screams “rushed to market”, it’s Iron Man 2. Developed by Secret Level/SEGA Studios (the same ones responsible for the crapfest that is Golden Axe: Beastrider), Iron Man 2 takes all of the criticisms from the first game, addresses some of them, but somehow makes things even worse. While the controls feel better, the missions and levels are even more boring than the first and while graphics look decent on the ground, there are tons of bad pop-up textures while in the air. Mountains slowly get their graphical details, doors and walls just vanish when you destroy them with no animation. Add to this the ugliest CGI cutscenes I’ve seen in a long time. This is a game that needed 3-4 more months before release. It’s no wonder Secret Level was disbanded after this game was released. While it’s a better effort than Thor overall, at least Thor had better Wii/DS versions while Iron Man 2 sucked on all consoles. This is one to be avoided at all costs.
After Marvel’s contract with SEGA had expired, it was obvious they had no desire to renew with them again. Sadly, these stink bombs may have cost us a full Avengers game as THQ was far in development of one when it decided to pull the plug. Check out the pre-alpha video below.
SEGA’s line of Marvel movie games are sure to be remembered for a long time. Sadly, it’s mostly for the same reasons people remember Superman 64. SEGA, next time you get a big movie license, PLEASE treat it with more care. In the meantime, I’m gonna turn on my Genesis and slap in some Captain America and the Avengers. “Okay, go!”Ad: