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Gamer Tuesday

May 1, 2012

Pap the Disney Gamer's Highlights: My Super Hero Week Gaming Picks


A cinematic event many years in the making, Marvel Studios' The Avengers is finally a reality! Super hero fans are very excited to see this movie come to life on the big screen as some of the biggest names in the comic book industry collide in an epic fight between good and evil. We at From Screen to Theme are very excited for this movie as well, and thus we have decided to dedicate a whole week to super heroes!

This makes my job really easy as there are hundreds of video games based on super heroes, many based on Marvel Super Heroes, while others based on Disney super heroes! It was kind of tricky to pick just one, so I decided to highlight two games this week based on super heroes. One game will be my all-time favorite Marvel super hero game, while the other will be based on a Disney super hero game along with honorable mentions for each side.

Without any hesitation, let's get dangerous!

Favorite Marvel Game: *Marvel Super Heroes (Arcade)

Every summer, I would go with my parents to a tropical resort out in the big cities, and while the beach and the pool was always something to look forward to, the one thing I always wanted to see was the hotel's arcade room. In one of our trips, I discovered this gem of a game that to this day I still see as a great moment of pure nostalgia. Marvel Super Heroes for the arcade is a 2D fighting game by Japanese game development house Capcom that pits some of Marvel's greatest heroes against some really dark enemies as they try to obtain the Infinity Gems and prevent Thanos from ruling over all. I love fighting games, especially those made throughout the 90s. Marvel Super Heroes features many of the core elements that made games like Capcom's own Street Fighter series so beloved in the era, such as a very thrilling sense of fighting speed, over the top combo moves and tons of wild colors adorning the screen.

The 2D graphics were clearly inspired by the famous Marvel comic book illustrations (many of them by Jack Kirby, whose contributions to the comic book industry made him a legend), as well as the designs seen in the then famous Fox Kids Saturday Morning Marvel series such as X-Men and Iron Man. Speaking of which, you can play as Marvel heroes Captain America, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man, Wolverine of the X-Men, and Psylocke. On the Marvel villains side is Magneto of the X-Men, Juggernaut, Dr. Doom, Shuma Gorath, and Blackheart. Each character brings to the arena their unique super powers, such as Spider-Man's web based attacks, Captain America's shield and Hulk's super strength.

The fabled Infinity Gems also play a big role in the gameplay. Throughout the battle, various gems will drop on the arena. If a character picks them up, they can use their special properties, such as slowing time and increasing their defense. Finally, each character has an unique special attack known as the combo finisher. As the name states, if pulled off correctly the opponent will be defeated quickly.

This wouldn't be the first and last Marvel themed fighting game Capcom would ever do. After this was released, they started the famed /�VS.� series where they pitted their characters against other Marvel heroes and villains. One of the most famous of these games is the Marvel vs. Capcom trilogy. As much as I love these fighting game series, Marvel Super Heroes just holds a special place in my heart. Everything from the graphics to the music and voices bring me back to simpler vacation days where I was introduced to some of the greatest heroes ever.

Marvel Super Heroes did receive a PlayStation and Sega Saturn release in 1997. Unfortunately, the arcade to home console conversion was a somewhat poor one, receiving some low scores from gaming publications at the time. Not only that, the game is very hard to find in any of its iterations. There are no plans to release this as a digital game download. It's a shame, I would love to go back and enjoy this game like I was 14 years old again.

Honorable Marvel Video Game Mentions: *Marvel vs. Capcom 2 also ranks very high as one of my all-time favorite Marvel themed games. Released in the late 90s and early 00s, the best way to describe the game is that it is INSANE! Featuring over 50 characters from Capcom and Marvel, players get to choose from three of them and pit them against each other and combine attacks so crazy it fills up the entire screen!

In terms of fighting game mechanics, it is far from the deep engines seen in games like Namco's Tekken fighting game series. This is meant to be pure fun, and that's why I love it so much. It is very easy to get into and have a game going. It can get so ridiculous that you can't help but love the game for it. There needs to be more silly games like this one.

Going back to my childhood for a bit, another favorite game of mine was Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Genesis. I remember I was home from school all week because I had my tonsils cleaned after suffering an infection. My mom went to the video store and brought back some movies and games for me to entertain myself while I was resting. One of the games she brought home was Maximum Carnage. The Spider-Man saga is filled with many mysteries and shocking storylines. The Venom and Carnage stories are some of the best and most beloved stories not just in Spider-Man but all of comic book history. The game is a side-scrolling beat 'em up where you play as either Spider-Man or Venom as they try to bring down Carnage once and for all.

The game cartridge used to scare me as a kid! It was all red and had the frightening image of Carnage coming out at me! But the game was far from scary. It was quite fun, but very hard! That's why playing with a friend always made it a delight... a frustrating one, mind you, but a delight nonetheless.

Favorite Disney Super Hero Game: Darkwing Duck (Nintendo Entertainment System)

The Disney Afternoon was one of the best block of syndicated cartoons to ever exist on television. Disney animation, in any of its assets, can be really creative and fun to experience. So when Disney decided to create their own animated TV shows, children of the 80s and 90s got to experience them firsthand, and to this day they remain some of the best shows ever created. While many believe that DuckTales was the best show of them all, my favorite Disney Afternoon show would have to be Darkwing Duck.

Darkwing Duck is a very Batman/Green Hornet-esque super hero that lives in Saint Canard as he battles its gallery of rogues. When he isn't out battling evil, he is a loving father named Drake Mallard to a wildfire child named Gosalyn. The show even featured DuckTales's Launchpad McQuack as a sidekick! The show often poked fun at all the conventions seen in comic books and super hero based shows, such as the silly angst that drove many a hero's cause to the outrageous villains they would encounter each week.

Like its Disney Afternoon brethren, Darkwing Duck received an NES adaptation. Who's Who Wednesday writer Erik Anderson covered the game last year during our Freaky Friday themed week, so if you want to learn more about the game you can read his article here. What I liked the most about the game, though, is how much it resembled Mega Man, Capcom's other famous franchise. Much like in the show, Darkwing Duck relies on weaponry and gadgets to get through the many evil characters. This made the game very entertaining as it paid tribute to the show's campy values while still being fun. In comparison to some of the other Disney Afternoon games Capcom made it is slightly less polished and is the hardest game of them all. Still, it was a very faithful adaptation of a very crazy awesome cartoon show.

Honorable Disney Video Game Mentions: Funny enough, I missed out on many Disney super hero based games back when they were originally released! So instead of listing favorites, I will be talking about some choice Disney super hero video games. Mickey and friends are no strangers to playing the role of super heroes if the story demands them to don a cape and save the day. Many Disney comics used to feature characters as super heroes. Such is the case with Donald Duck and his alter ego Paperinik. Paperinik is an Italian-creation for the Disney comic books that are released across the globe. The character was created as a way for Donald to avenge Scrooge McDuck in a story. Soon, the character would become his own, going on different adventures in each exciting comic book issue!

Donald's alter ego, however, wouldn't be widely known outside of Europe. That is until French video game developer Ubisoft released a game called PK: Out of the Shadows for the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo GameCube. The game is a 3D action platformer where players finally get to meet PK and go on various intergalactic missions. Even if the game did receive mixed reviews at the time of its release, PK: Out of the Shadows would be remembered for how drastically different it was from other Disney productions at the time. The Fab Five voice actor regulars also make their appearance, such as Tony Anselmo as Donald Duck, Russi Taylor as Huey, Louie and Dewey, and Tress McNeille as Daisy Duck.

The game may not have been that warmly received, but those that did give it a chance found that while far from perfect, PK: Out of the Shadows was a great way to see our beloved quacker in a brand new light.

We must not forget, of course, that there is also Disney's own family of super heroes, The Incredibles! In 2004, Pixar released The Incredibles, an action film directed by Brad Bird that took a very deep and intimate look at a family of super heroes as they try to cope with trying to lead a suburban life without using their super powers. As expected, the film received wild critical praise and won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature the following year. As was the case with other Pixar films, a video game adaptation of The Incredibles was released at the same time as the film. *The Incredibles: The Video Gameis a fairly standard, multiplatform video game adaptation, featuring key scenes from the film remade in playable video game form. Some of these include the famous Dash chase scene and Elastigirl's early encounter with Mr. Incredible. This one I did play when it came out, and it's mainly par. It doesn't really reinvent the Incredibles world, but it doesn't do a poor job of it either. It's ideal for young fans of the film and a decent adaptation overall.

There was, however, a very interesting sequel released. The Incredibles: Rise of the Underminer dares to answer one question: what exactly happened at the end of the film when the Underminer invaded the sporting event Dash was participating in? The Incredibles kicked his butt of course! However, the scene was quickly turned into a full fledged video game featuring Mr. Incredible and his friend Frozone as playable characters. The video game goes beyond the movie as it takes the heroes into brand new scenarios based on the Incredibles saga. Once again, many people dubbed it a par effort for the series. Just like PK: Out of the Shadows, though, it did take a familiar universe and expanded it beyond what the filmmakers put on film.

And those are my choices for my favorite Marvel and Disney super hero games! There are still many I can easily talk about so stay tuned as one may pop up on a Gamer Tuesday! Until next time...


Author's Note: Games with a * indicate that the game has been rated T for Teen, which means they are suitable for older children. If you intend to let a child play a game that has been rated T and above, parental supervision is advised.


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