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X-Men Legends is still the greatest Marvel video game

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Legendsary

Growing up, watching X-Men was a must for me. As the little porker I was, shunning daylight and exercise for the warm glow of my television set, I never missed an episode. I watched every damn adventure. All 76 of them, even the shitty ones. For the longest time, the X-Men were my favorite superheroes until Bryan Singer got his hands on the franchise and slowly started to make me fall out of love with them.

The movies may be of mixed quality, but that cartoon was frickin' excellent. Though, in retrospect, it was also cheap as fuck. Really, one of the cheapest looking cartoon series from my youth and I used to watch the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Gaming has almost always been pretty nice to my favorite Marvel team. Sure, their NES game was garbage coated garbage marinated in garbage-sauce, but that X-Men arcade beat'em up kicked balls and ass. When X-Men vs. Street Fighter first appeared at my local arcade, I pumped a fist full of quarters into that bitch. It was great, but nothing could compare to my absolute favorite X-Men game and overall favorite Marvel title: X-Men Legends.

Developed by Raven Software, Legends was the first X-Men game that really made me feel like I was part of a superhero team. Every other game I was just controlling one character, but here I was in charge of a group of four. Even if the story was built around the forgettable Magma, I absolutely ate up watching my chosen heroes team up and beat down hoards of identical enemies, Sentinels and ultimately, Magneto. It and its sequel Rise of Apocalypse are still, in my opinion, the only games to absolutely nail the X-Men. And though the formula blew up with the Ultimate Alliance duo of titles, I preferred the smaller, more focused cast of characters found in the Legends titles.

It's a great frickin' action RPG and I wouldn't mind seeing Activision talk Marvel into letting them make another one and not just one featuring figures from the MCU. It would certainly take the terrible taste of X-Men: Destiny out of the mouths of X-Men fans.

Chris Carter

While X-Men Legends is probably my top pick as well, I have a special connection with the SNES classic X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse.

The crisp, full colors really captured the essence of the '90s TV series, and the difficulty was so finely tuned that it wasn't guaranteed that you'd just be sleepwalking through it every time you booted it up it. But it was many years later when I started playing it with my wife on her SNES that I began to take to it. She hadn't bested that many platformers at the time and mostly glued to puzzle games, and we spent many nights taking turns with the various playable characters beating it together.

Mutant Apocalypse was essentially her crash course in the genre, and it was a perfect medium for it!

Peter Glagowski

While there is an abundance of games based on Marvel properties, the overwhelming majority of them aren't particularly good. That probably has more to do with LJN making most of the earlier titles. We didn't start getting quality Marvel games until Capcom stepped up with the Versus series. While I'm tempted to say Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 is my favorite game, I'm actually gonna dig a little deeper and pick another Capcom related Marvel project.

Capcom was known as the king of beat-em-ups in the '90s and The Punisher is another great example of their expertise in that genre. Not only does it feature co-op with two distinct characters (Frank Castle and Nick Fury), but it allows you to wield guns and straight up blast your foes to death. It features all the hallmarks of typical brawler design (including the requisite elevator stage) and has some incredibly satisfying boss battles.

I would kill for a home console port of this game (which could tie in with the upcoming Netflix series, *hint* *hint*) because the only time I've ever experienced this hidden gem was at Disney Quest in Florida. Now that Disney Quest is a thing of the past, I'm gonna have to resort to a ROM to live out my Punisher fantasies...or the surprisingly decent PS2/Xbox game. Anyway, The Punisher goes down with Alien Vs Predator for weird, but oddly fitting Capcom beat-em-ups that deserve a second chance to become popular.

Wes Tacos

Holy shit, never thought I'd see the day CJ said something that was correct! X-Men Legends 1 and 2 are indeed dope as hell. They're nearly perfect in terms of how they make you feel like one of Xavier's special pupils.

Nearly.

Apart from connections to the unfortunate film from which it bears its name, X-Men Origins: Wolverine is simply put the greatest Marvel game of all time. It takes the classic idea of a hack'n slash and makes it painfully and awesomely literal, turning the ageless wonder Logan into an absolute killing machine. How the hell Raven Software (damn they had a good string of games, there) convinced both Activision and Marvel to turn one of the world's most recognizable comic icons into an M-rated game that perfectly fit his tone and character I'll never know, but boy, am I glad they did.

The game sadly followed similar beats as the shit-butt film (a loose interpretation of it was a welcome reprieve), but apart from that did some incredible things with ultraviolence. In addition to eviscerating your enemies with Wolvie's signature adamantium claws, Logan's character model took damage, itself, as punishment was inflicted upon him. Take too much and the flesh peels away to the metal-infused bone below...only to grow back after a bit of a rest. It was such a gruesome and clever system that I don't think anything could come close if they even tried.

With Logan making some late buzz for Oscars season, now seems like a perfect time for the Marvel collective to pull their heads out of their asses and whip up a game loosely based on the film, giving us a new reason to jump into the berserk yellow spandex of the classic mutant. I know they won't, but a girl can dream, right?

Occams Electric Toothbrush

I remember being a kid in the early 90’s and comics and video games were my peanut butter and chocolate. When the two worlds combined, it was almost more than my tiny, sugar and television fueled brain could handle. The games would range from fair to fabulous but none excited me or meant more to me than the original Marvel vs Capcom.

I spent many moons and even more quarters playing Marvel vs Capcom in my local arcade. It remains my favorite fighting game and one of my favorite arcade games ever. I was good enough to win more than I lost and that was enough for me. I can close my eyes and still recall the glow of the screen and the jingle of the title theme repeating in perpetuity. If I ever have the money and space, I’ll get a refurbished cabinet and set it up in a dark room where I can practice my Wolverine combos over and over. Every time I hit player one I’ll step back into that place and that time and I will smile and be content.  




Chris Moyse

Although I've spent a huge chunk 'o' life around the Marvel vs Capcom series, I think the Marvel game that I feel closest to remains X-Men; Konami's 1992 arcade brawler, a genre I was super-into as a youngling. With its huge sprites, bright and colourful comic-book graphics, staggering six-player co-op and double width monitor, the machine was the centerpiece of any arcade lucky enough to have the original dedicated cabinet.

Twenty-five years on, X-Men is still a lot of fun and features the franchise's classic heroes and villains. It's a little-known fact that the game's visual style is taken from the 1989 pilot episode of an X-Men animated series that never was (Pryde of the X-Men). The game is also well-known for its hilariously clunky dialogue, particularly Magneto's infamous cry of "Welcome to DIE!"

As an odd bit of trivia, there was a rumour going around in the 90's that an updated version of the game existed, with Colossus and Dazzler replaced by Gambit and Jubilee. But I'm yet to come across any such ROM or even a single screenshot of such a release. So stick that in the file marked "Mortal Kombat SNES gore code."

Like all brawlers, X-Men is a pretty shallow, short-lived adventure, but its great soundtrack, fast-pace, and impressive sprites still hold up today. Now... Go And Save The City!


Chris Seto

I'm fairly certain that when someone mentions Marvel video games, one of the first people will think of will belong to the Capcom VS series. Heck, one made it into the list just above.

Sure, Marvel Vs Capcom 2 is probably the most revered but for me, but there is purity in (relative) simplicity and my favourite game in the series remains the first: X-Men Vs Street Fighter! Being the game that introduced the mechanics and flare which we have come to love and expect from the series was a pretty big deal!

Ridiculous special moves from Street Fighter characters to match the X-Men stable, instant switching between your chosen characters, insane combos, arguably the best soundtrack in the series and Rogue stealing special moves from characters she kissed! What wasn't there to love about this game?

Sure, the game was broken as hell (Juggernaut infinites for days! Sabertooth!! [nuff said]) but it was also fun as heck and pretty much set all the foundations for the later games. And I also had the benefit of owning the Japanese Sega Saturn release and a console to play it on, so I had arcade perfect fun and not the watered down PS1 jank. Even to this day, I sometimes dig out my Saturn for a few rounds. But let's just imagine that Marvel Superheroes Vs Street Fighter doesn't exist and Marvel Vs Capcom was the next game in the much-loved series!

Kevin Mersereau

Two of the guys named Chris (how many of you are there?!?) already called dibs on my obvious choices here, but there is another game that holds a very special place in my heart. Silver Surfer on the NES is an awful-looking game which I’ve never actually played. The soundtrack, however, is fucking glorious. It still holds up as one of my favorites to this day. Is this enough to qualify it as the greatest Marvel game? Eh, probably not… It definitely has the best music though.

Jonathan Holmes

Capcom's Marvel games are my real favorites, but most of the best ones have already been taken, so I will instead go with something from the very bottom of my "This game isn't very good but I love it anyway" pile. That's right, it's time to talk about Hulk, the sort-of adaptation, non-canon semi-sequel to the discarded Marvel film of the same name. 

First of all, I still love the fact Ang Lee, director of Sense and Sensibility, and later, Brokeback Mountain, got to make a Hulk movie. Just thinking about it makes me happy, almost as happy as thinking about that rap album by William S. Burroughs, the writer of Naked Lunch. Sadly, the Hulk game wasn't also directed by Ang Lee, but like the film, it stars Eric Bana as Bruce Banner. That also makes me really happy. When it comes to name casting, Bana as Banner is someone that could only be topped by a Barack Obama biopic starring Rocco Bahamas, or a movie starring Bana as an actual banana. 

As for the game itself, it's a perfectly fine example of the kind of big, single-player action games based on films that you just don't see much of these days. Playing it then was an exciting look at what Ang Lee's film could have been if they had swapped an unshowered Nick Nolte with villains from the comics like The Leader, Madman, and Half-Life. Playing it now feels like going back in time to a day when they actually made AA or AAA games based on Hollywood popcorn flicks. I used to take those kinds of games for granted, but after talking to the director of The Mummy Demastered and seeing what happened to Visceral, I'm pretty sure they're gone for good, so I plan to hold onto the ones I still have.  

Rich Meister

As far as Marvel games go, Spider-Man games have always held a special place in my heart starting of course with the old Activision PlayStation game. Eventually, the wall-crawler would star in a multitude of open world games, but the one that stuck with me the most was Ultimate Spider-Man of the PS2. 

I love the Ultimate universe and this game nailed that cel-shaded look and jumping between playing as Spidey and Venom was a dream come true for a little nerd like me. The game didn't just have an amazing open world, it also made use of plenty of Marvel Comics characters. My favorite probably being a bar brawl between Venom and Wolverine. 

One can only hope Insomniac's upcoming Spider-Man game lives up to the character's video game lineage. 

Josh Tolentino

It's weird, but I can never remember any Marvel games until I'm called on to recall them specifically, at which point I once again am amazed by just how many there have been. 

Unlike the movies, or with WB's work on landmark titles like the Arkham series, Marvel doesn't really have a game-based shared universe. Everything from Avengers Academy to Marvel vs. Capcom appears to live in its own little pocket of the multiverse. On the one hand, that's made for a diverse and varied lineup of titles to enjoy. On the other hand, few end up truly memorable.

Weirdly enough, I'm kind of hoping that Telltale's attempt at doing things, starting with the Guardians of the Galaxy series (our review of the final episode is coming soon!) can blossom into something bigger. A "Telltale Marvel Universe" of sorts might be really cool to see, especially considering that their take on the Guardians is probably my favorite depiction of the team so far. I wonder what they'd be able to do if given the X-Men, Spider-Man, Iron Man, or even some weird off-shoot title like Hawkeye, Mockingbird, or Black Panther?

*****

Notice what games are not listed here. That's right, there isn't a single Marvel LEGO game. Hint, hint, Marvel and Disney.


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CJ Andriessen
CJ AndriessenAssociate Editor   gamer profile

Just what the internet needs, yet another white guy writing about video games. Full Disclosure: I backed Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. more + disclosures


 



Filed under... #Destructoid Discusses! #Destructoid Originals #Marvel

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