Superheroes are cool. See, it’s a common misconception that comic books and adults in capes and spandex is in some way strange or unusual and should therefore be shunned or avoided at all costs. All you need to do these days is take a trip to the cinema to see how many of the upcoming blockbusters happen to star a super solider or a wall crawler to get conclusive proof that: Superheroes are cool.
So, with that in mind (and considering the fact that I haven’t written a post since before Christmas) here is a list of what I consider to be the tip of the top of superhero video games. It won’t be too hard, because a lot of them are absolute piles of crap *cough* Superman 64 *cough*.
(Oh, just to be clear, you won’t be seeing Arkham City or Asylum on this list because frankly, they’ve been praised enough and it seems an obvious choice)
LEGO Marvel Superheroes (Wii U, Xbox One, PS4)
I’ve always loved LEGO games. Seriously, it appeals to the obsessive compulsive desires in me to collect and 100% every game I play. LEGO games feels so much rewarding because they tend to have a hefty stack of secrets and collectibles.
LEGO Marvel is no exception. The biggest LEGO game yet does not skimp on the fan service, letting you fly or drive or web swing through a fully realized New York as one of around 200 Marvel characters ranging from Spider Man and Iron Man to the more obscure, like Howard the Duck.
Essentially, what any fan wants from a superhero game is to feel connected to that world that they love so much. LEGO Marvel comes remarkably close, from taking down Sentinels in Central Park to just jumping of the top of the Empire State Building for laughs, it’s sense of immersion and fun is unparalleled for any other Marvel game so far.
Batman Vengeance (PS2, Gamecube)
I have a feeling most people who’ve played this will disagree with me. I’ll admit that Vengeance has some glaring flaws; combat is absolutely atrocious, cycling through gadgets can become fiddly and confusing and simple jumps can become needlessly difficult.
However, this game was based on the world of Batman: The Animated Series. You know the one. The best cartoon ever to have existed in this or any other universe. It had a genuinely engaging and exciting story and made an effort to change up game play by having sequences in the Bat mobile and the Batplane.
It also featured the voice work of the inimitable Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as Batman and The Joker, long before Arkham reared its head. That’s worth the ticket price alone.
Spider Man 2 (Gamecube, Xbox, PS2)
I doubt there are many people who can say a bad word about this one. Pretty much the first open world superhero game and it nailed it on the first time out.
Spider Man fan or not, swinging through a fully working New York (gobby pedestrians and all) at top speeds and taking out bad guys or jumping into car chases was all kinds of awesome.
Sure, it had some shitty indoor levels, but the combat was cool, dodging bullets with your Spider sense made you feel like a PRINCE among men and most importantly, you could tie thugs to lamp posts upside down and beat on ’em for as long as you wanted. God bless you, Spider Man 2.
Spider Man (PS1, N64)
The first video game I remember absolutely loving. I have nothing but awesome memories of this video game. It was funny, it was challenging, it was packed full of secrets, cameos (Daredevil, bitches) power ups (FLAME WEBBING) collectibles, alternate costumes (Scarlet Spider was awesome) and cool references (On one level, you could find the Baxter Building and prompt a cutscene with the Human Torch) and it was stuffed to the brim with everyone’s favorite villains.
The boss fights were always interesting and always had a twist. The level designs always provided an ample mix of platform, puzzle combat and stealth. Above all though, the game was funny. It just felt like a Spider Man adventure, just absolutely over the top and batshit crazy, but it knew it was stupid and reveled in that stupidity.
It’s also important to remember that the last boss was the Carnage symbiote merged with Doc Ock, and when you’re seven years old that is literally the coolest shit ever (even if it did used to scare the bejeebus out of me).
Also; FLAME WEBBING.
Send help, I did it again. Ever since Pokémon Ruby, I have always told myself; No More. Stop, each game is the same, save for a graphical face lift here, a slew of new monsters there. You’ll never “catch ‘em all” I tell myself bitterly. 151, maybe even 300 was doable but I’m an old man now. I’ll be long dead on the fateful day they reveal a new pokedex, bringing the number up to a round one million Pokémon.
But of course I bought Diamond and loved it. I bought Black and Black 2 and I loved them. I sat there squinting at my DS through teary eyes, wondering how Game Freak can still coerce me into buying the same game on an almost annual basis. Pokémon is like heroin, with more strange colourful monsters. Or maybe less, come to think of it.
And so Pokémon X and Y were announced, with their promises of brining the series into a fully resplendent 3D world. I looked on cynically, cackling from beneath my Pikachu bed sheets that I don’t really have. “It’s the same game!” I cried. “How much can 3D really change things? I am 100% not getting this one”.
I bought it. Of course I did.
Although as it turns out, 3D really has made this iteration of the age old series the freshest since Gold and Silver. The graphical update has given the game a level of detail that adds a certain degree of engagement with the world that I’ve never really had before. This is helped in no small part by the brilliant character customization system. You choose what you look like right down to the socks, and it’s fantastic entering a new city to see what new clothes you can track down.
The battles in particular, are finally interesting to watch. Instead of looking at a selection of static sprites and a slowly moving health bar, we finally have dynamic, swooping fights, with Pokémon reacting to pain and being impressed when they dish out a brutal attack. I guarantee you will care more about your Charmander when you actually see it in pain.
The region of Kalos itself is a great looking place. For the majority of the time, we play in the usual top down perspective which is a little disappointing. But when the camera swoops down as you cross as a river or approach a large building on the horizon, you’re reminded just what the 3DS can do. This is undoubtedly a pretty looking game. Think Pokémon Colloseum but less shit.
While we never expect much from a Pokémon story, X and Y really drop the ball here. I barely cared or remembered what was going on, or even who the real bad guy was. Team Flare were a generic, uninspired bunch with no clear motivation. Bring back Team Rocket and be done with it.
It would be remiss of me to finish this review without mentioning Mega Evolutions, the new gimmick for this entry in the series. For a start, it looks really, really cool seeing your Charizard or Gyrados power up and get even more brutal. However, there are only about four other people in the entire game who can also mega evolve, so it feels like a bit of a cop out in 99% of battles.
And therein lies my biggest problem with these new Pokémon. It is far too easy. I’m far from being even halfway good at these games, yet I finished them without losing one battle or even coming close to doing so. This was in part due to Mega Evolutions and in part due to Super Training, a new series of mini games which let you bump up whatever stats a Pokémon has that you feel could be better. While this is great for getting an edge in online battles, it ensures that you’re all but invincible for the main game.
After you’ve knocked back the main game, there’s precious little to do. Three legendaries to catch, one pathetic side quest and next to no new areas to explore and we have the most disappointing post game experience since Ruby/Sapphire. On top of that, there is essentially nowhere to train up your 70+s besides the Elite Four and that’s just a ballache.
Sure, there’s the daunting task of catching them all and the great online features should keep things interesting for a while, but exploring new areas was always my favourite part of finishing a Pokémon game, so I’m a little let down. Maybe Game Freak will release some kind of update with new areas and a little more to do.
Pokémon Y is by no means the best game in the series, but it is the best looking and the most engaging. Let down only by a shoddy story and an easy difficulty, I’d recommend it to fans of the series, but I know you’re probably already playing it.,
I’m not entirely what’s going on here, or indeed who’s idea it was to include such a strange character choice.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure she’s going to be a pretty handy character when we get down to the meat and ‘taters of the fighting, but if we don’t get Ridley or Dark Samus or some other Metroid character besides Samus for once because of this, I shan’t be best pleased.
The trainer is one of the new fighters joining the roster, including Mega Man and the Animal Crossing Villager. Expect more updates to come in pretty sharpish.