Not long ago, Arkham Knight was released. Opinions abound, especially on how much use of the Batmobile is too much, but for what it is worth, I greatly enjoyed the game.
But it leaves me in a weird position. As many of you may well know, I’m a huge fan of comic book properties, even if I’m not really much for readings comics themselves anymore. But when it comes to video games based on super heroes, I look around and see limited options these days.
I can kind of understand how it got to this point. There was a time in the not-so-distant past that licensed games of any kind were known to be the worst representations of a property you could find. They were awful more often than not. Spider-Man 2 for Playstation 2 stood out as much as it did because it was one the few to buck the trend and make a good game based on the hero. Whereas Superman 64 is still brought up every time a “worst game ever” discussion pops up on the internet.
But then Arkham Asylum released a few years ago, and I thought maybe things would improve. It was followed by the excellent Arkham City. People raved about Batman games for the first time in years. I thought maybe other developers/publishers would notice there was a market and demand for good games based on super heroes. Even non-comic licensed properties have received fanfare in the last few years. Shadows of Mordor was generally accepted as quite good. Alien: Isolation almost single-handedly erased the smear Colonial Marines had left on the franchise.
So where the hell are the superhero games?! We received 2 Spider-Man games based on the ASM movies, and while they tried to ape the style of the Arkham games, they missed the lesson those games should have provided. Lifting the basic fighting mechanics of the Arkham games without trying to make the world around the character feel designed for every advantage that character has isn’t going to work. Spider-Man isn’t Batman, and his game needs to be designed with a completely different feel in mind.
But other than Spider-Man, where is everybody? The rest of the cast of Marvel comics seems to have been banished to the world of Disney Infinity, never again to see the light of their own game. We haven’t seen an X-Men game in years, and a good one longer than that. Wolverine’s last game was years ago in 2009, and was pretty good in its own right. Building upon that could give us a Wolverine games we all talk about in the same tone as the Arkham games. But nobody sees to be trying. Where are the Avengers? How have we gone two huge Avengers movies and multiple solo movies without some sort awesome Marvel Alliance style Avengers game?
DC isn’t doing much better. Outside the Arkham games, none of their character roster seems to be getting the time of day anymore. Where is our The Flash game? Infamous: Second Son’s neon powers showed, in my opinion at least, a good basis for what could be done with the Flash in a video game. Where is Green Arrow at in all this? The Teen Titans? Wonder Woman? Supes I can understand, since the character is so powerful that it can be hard to figure out how to make him make sense in our medium without stripping him down and angering his fans. But where the heck is everybody else?
I feel like a fan with money in hand just begging to give it to somebody, and nobody is out there to receive it. Is there a way we can improve this situation? How can we get more and better superhero games? Because as much as I love the Bat, I need something more. I want the feeling of exhilaration of swinging from building to building one can only get from a game like Spider-Man 2. I want the visceral feel of Wolverine’s claws. I want to dash around the city Flash-style with more to do than DC Universe offers. I want to smash like only Hulk can.