Experienced Points: Superheroes That Should Be Games

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Jan 28, 2014

Filed under: Column 178 comments

Which is more amazing, that Arkham Asylum games were so good, or that we haven’t been flooded with DC, Marvel, and the other IP holders trying to do the same thing? It’s odd, I tell you. The closest we came to someone trying to crib from Arkham wasn’t a superhero, it was Lara Croft. But if any of these companies do decide to enter the “Arkham genre”, what heroes would be a good fit?

The article was already long, and there are literally hundreds of quasi-notable heroes to choose from, so the cutoff for making my list was pretty arbitrary. Here are some other heroes I think are worth mentioning:


Hulk’s entire powerset revolves around smashing things, so to do it right you’d need destructible environments. It’s not technologically impossible to mix open-world with smash-able scenery, but it is challenging and probably risky. Also, I’d be worried his gameplay would get a little one-dimensional. Down-time things like item hunts and environmental puzzles are kind of at odds with the whole “unstoppable ragemonster” idea. Again, not impossible, but problematic.


I’m not a huge Thor fan. Never read his books. I left him out of the list because I have no idea how well he’d work or what his gameplay might look like.


Well, I guess we already got one of these, and like a lot of superhero games, it wasn’t particularly good. But what if they gave him another chance, and gave him his own game without Nite Owl II and the movie tie-in baggage dragging him down?

I’d love to play as Mr. Jumbleface, but I have serious doubts the AAA industry has the deft to handle the character properly. His normal foes wouldn’t be mad scientists, super-powered people, spies, or other exotic adversaries. He does most of his fighting in the gutter. He doesn’t save the world. In fact, he really doesn’t seem to save anyone. He just tracks down guilty people and gives them the hurting. Maybe at the top of the pile he’ll find a bent cop or sleazy politician. In a proper Rorschach story, the final confrontation would ask (and leave unanswered!) a lot of questions about how much damage you can do in pursuit of justice before you start to worry that the cure is worse than the disease.

At least, that’s where I’d go with the material. Basically, it’s a free pass to go all the places you’re not allowed to go with Batman.

I think that’s an awesome hook for a game. I’d play that in a heartbeat. But I seriously doubt that would get funded. Instead, we’d get an unambiguously good Rorschach fighting to save the city from some evil corporation or something else inoffensive. Eh. I’d play it, but I’d spend the whole time wishing I could play a REAL Rorschach game.


Just release Spider-Man 2 for PC. Please? My Game Cube is long gone and I’m not going to bust out some ancient console just so I can play the one good Spiderman game.

I would also accept a re-make.

I would also accept it if you stopped with the damn quicktime events and the cutscene-heavy presentation and just gave us a sandboxy tour of Spider-Man’s New York.


HAHAHAHAHA! Aquaman joke!


Would never work. There’s no way anyone could get the cape to look right, and the cape is 85% of the costume.

Also Spawn sucks.


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178 thoughts on “Experienced Points: Superheroes That Should Be Games

  1. X2Eliah says:

    I’d say that Loki would be a great game. True, it’s much less a superhero and more a supervillain (*the* trickster god), but games with villainous protagonists can work, as long as the villain seems to enjoy what they are doing. Loki certainly would. And as for gameplay, well… It’d be a norse-mythology themed saint’s row 4. That should be sufficient, eh?

    1. Thomas says:

      I came to Loki through the films, but I think I’d be disappointed with a Saints Row 4 style thing. The cool stuff with Loki would be trying to build the deception right into the mechanics of the game, it’s possible the one place where an open-world sandbox [i]wouldn’t[/i] be the best thing.

      Something like Remember Me, with deception based movesets and a lot of fragility with something like the memory screwing mechanic except instead of putting things right Loki makes them wrong.

      Also stealth, lots and lots of stealth, but less hiding from things and more Assassins Creed multiplayer pretending to be people and screwing with people’s minds

      1. Deadpool says:

        Have you read Gillen’s Journey Into Mystery?

        A Loki game would have to be an almost completely story driven, dialogue choice/consequence kinda game, with the player having to find a way to trick everyone else…

        It wouldn’t be that much fun. The most fun with Loki is finding out his master plan AFTER he enacts it, not before.

        I’d say a four player “Sif and the Warriors Three” beat’em’up would be all sorts of fun. But I am a sucker for a good co op game… And a beat’em’up game… And Sif… And the Warriors Three…

  2. Zeta Kai says:

    Also, the Aquaman game was notoriously bad. I just thought that it was worth a mention, even though the point was well made.

    1. Deadpool says:

      And yet Eccho the Dolphin was popular! Now how does that make sense?

      1. Mechaninja says:

        Am I the only one who thinks one could actually make a decent Aquaman game?

        Honestly, I want James Cameron to make a Aquaman movie. Of all the people involved in movies, he’s the closest that I’m aware of to qualified to handle the underwater of it.

        I mean, I don’t know if he knows anything about super heroes, but the underwater part of it he’d obviously be qualified to handle, which I think could be really interesting.

        One of the interesting things to me about an Aquaman game would be the “natural” boundaries: Aquaman isn’t his most powerful on land, and now he has to chase someone onto land. How deep can he go? Upgrade path!

        Beyond that, water is amazing stuff, and strange things happen there. Explosions under water do strange things, and etc. Going Deep, things get even stranger.

        Just sayin’.

        1. Jakale says:

          I think it’s pretty feasible. A search pulled a liat of Aquaman villains that was much longer than I expected, so they wouldn’t hurt for choices. I imagine a lot would depend on the game type. Underwater combat quality varies a fair bit with each game that tries it, and you’d need that in an Aquaman game since it’s where his powers can shine.

  3. Chris says:

    Just release Spider-Man 2 for PC. Please? My Game Cube is long gone and I'm not going to bust out some ancient console just so I can play the one good Spiderman game.

    I would also accept a re-make.

    One of the original game designers seems to be trying to do that, though I question the absurd preorder price tag and weird Kickstarter approach he’s got going on. Still, if the game doesn’t suck when it’s done, maybe it’ll be worth it?

    1. Volfram says:

      That reminded me of the Attack On Titan doujin game.

      From what I saw in the video, Energy Hook lacks an awful lot of flavor.

      1. guy says:

        Speaking of Attack On Titan, there’s a 3DS version out in Japan. No word on a US release, but people are speculating it’ll get released after the English dub because the franchise has made kind of a lot of money.

      2. Kristoffer says:

        I told him how it reminded me of Attack on Titan when I contributed to his campaign. Apparently, he gets that a lot. I’m looking forward to his game, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say fighting giants with jetpacks and grappling hooks that act like spider-man’s webslinging are more exciting to me than future sports with similar equipment.

  4. LazerBlade says:

    I think you could fit downtime into an interesting mechanic with Hulk. He is often depicted as unable to control his powers, and that could become a gameplay thing.

    You could have a rage (or pain or whatever) meter that would tip off hulk mode when filled out, but it would have negative repercussions for David Banner (figuring those out is the hard part). But there would be certain circumstances where you needed the hulk’s power, or cases where it would be believably inevitable to convert. David banner was supposed to be a genius, so you could have David Banner solve puzzles and hunt for things and have action sections as the hulk.

    1. Deadpool says:

      Hulk had a pretty good game… It was bogged down with Banner stealth sections (serious, WTF?) but it was basically Crackdown/Saints Row 4. With the god damned Hulk.

      It was popular enough they appropriated a move from the game into a scene for the Edward Norton movie: Turning a car into metal boxing gloves.

      1. recf says:

        That sounded like Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, but that game didn’t have any Banner sections that I recall. It was developed by Radical Entertainment, who later applied a lot of the mobility and moves when they made Prototype.

        It looks like there was a Hulk game made in 2003, based on the Ang Lee Hulk movie, and according the Hulk wikia it did have Banner sections. It looks like that was also developed by Radical Entertainment, so maybe that’s where the movement systems got their start.

  5. Thomas says:

    I think they made an acceptably good Hulk game right? It was a bit crackdownesque and became the game that Prototype was based off. I think it didn’t become an Arkhum Aslyum because an acceptable Hulk thing (the films haven’t been mindblowing yet either) tends to come with the excuse pre-packaged.

    ‘All you really need is some mindless fun and smashing’ is a fair sentiment but when people feel the need to say that before they even start describing the film/game makes it lose some of it’s lustre

  6. Isy says:

    Re: Superman “you’d need to make every challenge in the game into an epic boss fight or set-piece catastrophe.”

    That sounds like Shadow of the Colossus and that was pretty awesome.

    More seriously, there were bit thread discussions on here before about making a Superman game that sounded pretty cool, actually. An investigative reporting section with Clark Kent came up, and he has X-ray vision, so the funky mechanics would be a shoo-in.

    1. Volfram says:

      Part of the fun of Shadow of the Colossus was the fact that compared to the things you’re stalking, assaulting, and brutally murdering, YOU ARE A GNAT! Wander only has a prayer against the Colossi because he has a special magic sword and an unkillable horse, and because for the most part, the Colossi don’t really want to have anything to do with him.

      One of my favorite parts of Man of Steel was that it showed very clearly what a conflict between two Kryptonians would look like.

      The entirety of planet Earth and all living things on it weren’t a part of the conflict, or even scenery. They were bystanders, desperately hoping the fight wouldn’t turn its attention their way.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Yeah.If only superman had some sort of a wise role model to teach him the value of life,so that he would actively try to lure enemies away from the bystanders.You know,actually acting like a superhero,as the avengers did.He really needed this sort of a role model in his early childhood.Some kind of a mentor,a coach,or a,whats a better word….sensei?Maybe then him being forced to kill someone would also be meaningful.Alas,there was no one available to fill such an important role in his life./rant

        1. Klay F. says:

          So what you’re saying is… Goku from DBZ would make a better Superman than Man of Steel Superman? :P

          1. Alex says:

            Collateral Damage Man would make a better Superman than Man of Steel Superman.

    2. Neil W says:

      Now, a way to do a superman game would be to spend most of the time playing as Lois Lane or Jimmy Olsen, doing investigative reporting, tracking down clues, maybe fighting off one or two thugs. Then when you get into trouble, use the Superman watch to call him in for a boss fight. The more of the work you’ve done, then the more rewarding it is; if you get caught by Lex Luthor’s doorman then you get a cutscene, make it into his office then you control a big fight with a mob of mooks and if you get right down into the secret lab and find the plans, then you get to fight a giant action set-piece against a fusion-powered robot dinosaur.

      Or maybe more XP or cash from the editor for a better story.

    3. Retsam says:

      I do think Shadow of the Colossus proves a “boss fights only” video game is possible, which is what a Superman game would almost necessarily be.

      But yeah, other than that, there’d be virtually no similarity to SoC; as the main theme of SoC is your powerlessness: i.e. the opposite of being Superman.

      1. Isy says:

        That’s what I mean, a “boss fights only” game. Thematically it would probably look more like God of War II, where we all know Kratos (or Superman) is going to beat the snot out of this next God but we all enjoy it anyway. (Although I hated God of War II, but other people liked it.)

        I think a Superman game could be made, but it would require people to both rethink videogames and rethink Superman. In the case of videogames, I cite Shadow of the Colossus because it slaughtered the sacred cow of having a to slog through a billion mooks to get to any event of significant. In the case of Superman, it would be rethinking why the supposed hero solves all of his problems by punching them to death, and why he kills more people with collateral damage than the villain does with his evil death ray.

        1. Theodwulf says:

          One thing you could do, is that every time the giant monkey or whatever crashes into a building, you go into super-bullet time and catch the civilian falling out as it collapses? Keeps the character consistent, changes up the gameplay, and adds a layer of strategy in that you can try to steer the fight into open areas to avoid collateral damage like that, another thing Superman is known for.

    4. TMTVL says:

      David Banner? Don’t you mean Bruce?

      1. TMTVL says:

        Damn, misclicked, I meant the guy two up.

        1. Volfram says:

          Apparently, in the 70’s or so, when the live-action series was made, someone decided that “Bruce” was a very gay name, and had the character renamed to “David.”

          Yeah, I agree, it’s stupid and I’m glad it was changed back to Bruce.

          1. anaphysik says:

            I think the bigger deal was that TV viewers at the time already knew a superheroic Bruce.

          2. Hitchmeister says:

            MAD magazine did a spoof of the Incredible Hulk TV show where they brought up the name change from Bruce to David because Bruce sounded too wimpy. The TV in the background of the panel was showing coverage of Bruce Jenner winning Olympic Gold in the decathlon.

    5. Jakale says:

      I thought it sounded more like Asura’s Wrath. You’re basically playing a movie of one village, continent, globe, or galaxy spanning boss fight after the next. If they did make another game like that, I hope Superman’s abilities and enemy roster would negate the number of repeat padding fights AW had.

  7. Tim Keating says:

    GameCube games are playable on a Wii. You can buy a used Wii for like $70 (and there are plenty of good games to play on a Wii, let me tell you. Like Mario Kart Double Dash. Wait, that’s a GameCube game!).

    1. Mechaninja says:

      SOME Wii’s. I guess there were versions that don’t play Gamecube games. At least that is what my wife claims is the reason she had to buy the kids another gamecube.

      1. Dave B. says:

        There were basically two versions of the Wii: the original design which has backward compatibility with Gamecube games, and the new design which does not. You can easily tell the difference, because the new one is designed to sit horizontally rather than on its edge.

        1. ET says:

          Wait…the newer model was the one that had less features?
          I don’t even know how that could be needed, since obviously the technology jammed into the thing should be the same or better than the earlier model.
          Did Nintendo ever say why they removed this feature?

          1. Nidokoenig says:

            I believe the fundamental issue is that they make consoles backwards compatible by including some of the old hardware. The DS had GBA parts until the DSi, and the Wii had all the Gamecube parts it would need to run those games. Later in the console cycle, Gamecube games weren’t generally being sold and there wasn’t much demand, so they took those parts out to reduce the cost.

  8. Chuk says:

    There was a Hulk game for Gamecube, Ultimate Destruction I think? It was sandbox-ish and there were power up “special moves”, it was actually pretty good. And so was Ultimate Spider-Man for Gamecube, fun web-slinging, sometimes you had to play Venom though.

    What was that Spider-Man and Venom game for the Sega Genesis? I liked that one but I guess it was pretty limited. Mostly they just punched people.

    1. recf says:

      I really enjoyed Spider-man: Web of Shadows, but I think I might have been the only one.

      1. Taellosse says:

        You were not. I loved that game. There is not 1 good Spider-Man game, there are 3 (and at least 3 more that were okay without being awesome): Spider-Man 2 (movie tie-in), Ultimate Spider-Man (many of the same gameplay elements as Spidey 2, but using the Ultimate comics universe. Bonus: you get to play half the game as Ultimate Venom, and eat people for life and giggles), and Web of Shadows. WoS’ webswinging isn’t QUITE as good as the others, but it’s close, and its combat is actually quite a bit better. It even has a slightly branching storyline and a pretty good upgrade mechanic. And while you don’t get to play as Venom, you DO get to play as Spidey with the symbiote costume (which ties into the slightly branching story), which is almost as cool. Web of Shadows has the additional advantage of being a recent game – you can get it for PS3 or 360. Technically you can even get it for PC, but it came on GfWL, so I don’t know if that’s such a good idea.

        The last movie tie-in, for the reboot, was actually not terrible. Its webswinging was inferior to Web of Shadows, but not horrible, and its combat was serviceable if not great. It had half-decent stealth mechanics in there too, which were quite obviously cribbed from Arkham, but not handled so ineptly as the Noir segments of Shattered Dimensions. It was certainly more fun to play than Beenox’s other Spider-Man games – Shattered Dimensions was a neat idea, I guess, but deeply flawed in execution.

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          I also liked Web of Shadows. Sure, it wasn’t exactly in continuity with other Spidey media (both the books and the comics), but it was a fun premise and was fun to play.

          Plus, I love the idea of the symbiote. I think that’s an incredibly interesting idea in general.

  9. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Actually,as someone suggested in the previous thread discussing this,superman can absolutely work even with just regular mooks.Just have lex(or someone else like him)design a kryptonite poison and have superman gradually grow weaker over time(not with actual time,but with every quest you finish),thus having the same mooks become tougher and tougher.Naturally,in the end you would get the cure,and face the big bad with full power once more.Also,this would add a great deal of tough moral choices for sidequests:Do you save a bunch of random citizens from the bad guys(which superman would definitely do),but make the main quest tougher and tougher,or do you focus on finding that cure as soon as possible,but let the innocents die?

    Also,you really dont require sandbox for a superhero game to work.For example,the recent deadpool is linear corridor brawler,and if only they made the innovative parts(like the side scroller deadpool)longer,and the controls a bit better,it wouldve been a great game,instead of a crappy one with great humor.

    As for the ones that can replace batman with little effort,green arrow is the most obvious choice.

    1. Volfram says:

      You, sir, are a genius!

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        If that was for the superman part,it was not my idea,I just have a good memory about random stuff I read here and there.

    2. ET says:

      This sounds a lot like a game idea Yahtzee wrote about on Extra Punctuation.
      I can’t seem to find the article, but yeah – basically a game where you start at full power, then get weaker over the course of the game. :)

      1. MelTorefas says:

        Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne did this, as I recall. Arthas starts at level 10 (max), which is where you were in the previous game. Then Illidan assaults the Frozen Throne, weakening the Lich King’s connection with the scourge, so in every mission Arthas’ level goes down.

        Of course, it is an RTS, so Arthas’ level is not the defining factor of how you play. Plus the progression is linear. But, yes.

    3. NMD says:

      I hope you don’t take anything I am about to say personaly but that sound terrible idea for a Superman game. You seem to miss the point of Superman as a whole. Which is understandable since most people tend to miss the point. To best understand what I mean I need you stop thinking of him as a Krytonian that was raise by farmers and instead see him as a farm boy from Kansas who happens to have a Krytonian body and heritage. I know that sound like the same thing but it isn’t… your just gonna have to trust me on that one.

      The whole point of Superman is his inner struggle with his humanity and his absolute power he hold over everybody. Clark Kent self control is his greatest power and his true kriptonite. In a fight the question is never wither he will win the fight but wither he will be able to live with himself afterwards. By limiting his power you take away from that struggle. Your moral choice go against one of the most important part of the character. Self sacrifice. I recommnend you watch The Iron Giant it does incredible job showcasing that aspect of the character.(You should also watch it because is one of the greatest animated movie ever made) Truth be told your idea sound like it would work better for Wolverine game.

  10. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Oh,by the way,wasnt the wolverine game somewhat good?I havent played it,but I think it got good reviews.

    1. Dovius says:

      It got generally meh reviews, but I personally enjoyed the hell out of it. After about the first few levels you had seen everything the gameplay really had to offer outside of boss-fights, but there were some cool fights (Fighting a standing, absolutely massive Sentinel robot, then jumping on him as he takes off and tearing him apart in mid-flight by abusing your healing factor and jumping into the damn thing’s turbines to wreck them), and it did stay pretty satisfying to just stand there, let mooks shoot at you for a few seconds (literally tearing you apart, bones and organs visible and everything), then jump them, kill them in seconds, and then view yourself slowly heal back to full health with the accompanying repairs to your bodily damage.

      It was by no means a quality game, but I maintain it as the one example of a good movie tie-in game that I’ve actually played.

      Also ironically the only movie tie-in game I played that was better than the actual movie.

  11. krellen says:

    I think one could make a pretty compelling case that the Boss of the Third Street Saints already is Rorschach. At least from Saints Row 2.

    SR2 is a story about taking your power back, yes, but it’s also a story about taking a city back from an evil corporation that sees a vision of a shining, pristine city filled with only “the right kind of people”, which is basically to say people they’re importing from somewhere else. Ultor’s vision of Stilwater is that of Manhattan, without the baggage of the Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island that come with the package of NYC Manhattan is usually packed in.

    The story even ends with the corrupt CEO of the corporation, after trying to cut a deal with the Boss, getting tossed out a window for his trouble – a very Rorschach ending.

    The two characters even share some characteristics; they’re both undeniably sociopaths, they both have nevertheless a strong (albeit twisted) sense of justice underneath their pathology, and they both have ever-changing masks (the Boss’s mask being a bit more literally changing than Rorschach’s, thanks to being a customisable character).

    I’m sure I’m not the only one that could see Rorschach’s famous “you’re trapped in here with me” line being uttered by the Boss of the Saints.

    1. The problem I have with Rorschach is that we already know his ultimate fate and that whatever he does won’t alter the setting for Watchmen.

      It could still be a fun game, don’t get me wrong. It’d just be weaker on the narrative side of things because it’d basically be a prequel. And Alan Moore would hate it, too.

      1. krellen says:

        I’m fairly certain Alan Moore hates everything.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        I wish people would stop saying that,because its true only for bad prequels(which are,sadly,the majority).But did knowing that magneto and professor X would end up as enemies ruin first class?No,it didnt.

        1. That’s a very iffy sequel. You have to ignore the already-shaky continuity of the X-Men movies, the retcons and contradictions, not to mention the problems inherent trying to incorporate the Wolverine movies.

          So there’s plenty of other factors that “ruined” that movie already. The biggest one for me is the big flashing sign over them that says “The main reason we’re making these is to keep the movie rights out of Marvel/Disney’s capable hands unless they give us a crapton of money and probably not even then.”

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            “You have to ignore the already-shaky continuity of the X-Men movies, the retcons and contradictions, not to mention the problems inherent trying to incorporate the Wolverine movies.”

            Just like a real comic book.

            But seriously though,like plenty of other things,retconing can be just as overlooked if the work in question is good.For example,alien resurrection tried to retcon ripley back into the story,and it was bad.Terminator 2,meanwhile,retconed a crapload of stuff from the original,yet it was great.

            On the other hand,the thing reb…I mean,prequel,tried to stay very close to the original,and it sucked despite of that.

            1. “Just like the real comic book.”

              That’s just an excuse for bad writing and the fact that the X-movies are currently like a season of just about any recent Star Trek show: Continuity takes a hike as any writer, director, or producer who impresses the suits gets to come in and do whatever the heck they want. Besides, with Marvel/Disney doing so well, it makes the Fox and Sony movies about Marvel characters seem like fanfic. Even if M/D never gets to make those movies themselves, they’ll keep getting rebooted and retconned from here to the end of time just to keep the rights (see: the upcoming Fantastic Four movie).

              Ripley’s presence wasn’t a retcon of previous movies, it was a contrived way to get her into another movie after she died in Alien 3. This hand-wave actually resulted in Alien Resurrection’s only good scene in the film: The “failed” cloning lab. What made the movie bad could fill this page eight times over.

              As for T2, it’s rather hard to not retcon when you have time travel involved. The previous film even talked about how the future could be changed, so that pretty much opened the door to doing whatever you wanted so long as the “present” was on one end and Skynet was on the other. It was a good movie because it was tightly written, well made (the CGI was handled nicely), and had a great performance from Patrick Harris. T3 was a re-hash of previous films whose only saving grace was that they had an actual downer ending. T4 was hampered by meddling from Christian Bale who wasn’t happy with a mere cameo and wanted a bigger role.

              The best example of this is the Star Wars prequels. Putting aside Lucas’ awful direction, dialog, and reliance on green screen, the audience pretty much knew what had to happen starting with Episode I. We knew where this was headed, and there wasn’t a whole ton of tension about what we were going to see. It’s similar to how novels based on franchises like Star Wars, Star Trek, etc. lose just about any suspense the second one of the principal cast members shows up as a character with their plot armor all polished up.

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                I wasnt talking about time travel in t2,thats not the only inconsistency.For example,the time travel works only for organic matter,so how did t1000 get back?But like you said,no one brings that up against the movie because it is tightly written,with amazingly utilized cgi(even by todays standards),and great acting.

                The problems with the prequels have nothing to do with the ending.In fact,the worst one was 1,that had the least to do with episodes 4-6.Counter example:Everyone who read lord of the rings knew what would happen in the movies,and yet the majority still loved them.

      3. Ya know, for Rorschach it’s more about the journey than the destination. I mean, one of that guy’s big things is that he knows what he does is ultimately pointless, but he’s made a bloody-minded decision to do it anyway.
        So while that problem would be serious for lots of heroes, I don’t think it would really weaken a Rorschach game at all.

  12. rofltehcat says:

    Green Lantern would probably be a fit for a game in which you “draw” or “paint” stuff. Touch screen (and maybe even Kinect?) controls would surely work very well with that. (I’m currently also playing Okami <3) It really doesn't necessarily have to be in 3D either. Think of something like Scribblenauts: use Green Lantern's powers to fight enemies and solve puzzles with a few hundred items in a 2D sidescroller.
    He is also interesting because is extremely powerful on one side but in the end just mortal when his ring runs out of power. So there could be some really spectacular combat moves without all the Superman problems.

    Captain America: Could work but I think outside the USA people aren't so much into him. The acrobatics/Prince of Persia stuff would also be interesting but I guess I'd just prefer a proper Prince of Persia sequel (the cell shading one, despite what many people think about it).
    Wolverine: Weren't there some Wolverine games already? Anyways, he'd probably do well in a spectacle fighter.

    Overall, most superheroes named (and many many more unnamed ones) lend themselves well to generic spectacle fighters. However, I think the appeal of the Arkham games isn't actually in the spectacle fighting. Sure, it is an integral part to it but huge parts of them are also exploration, clue hunting and many more. Imagine how boring they would be without the detective work, stealth, exploration…
    Superhero games really need a lot more than starring a big name and some fighting. Where that might come in I cannot say. Of course it would be interesting to see more superhero games.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      British here!: I’d love to play a Cap game of the same quality of the Arkhams…

      1. krellen says:

        I’d prefer Captain Britain to Captain America, though he does have some of the same problems as Superman.

    2. Ithilanor says:

      I really like the idea of adapting some of Okami’s mechanics to Green Lantern; that seems like a really good fit.

    3. Nidokoenig says:

      If you liked Okami and want to play a Green Lantern game, the Wonderful 101 is basically that, and it was directed by Hideki Kamiya, the guy behind Okami. You draw basic shapes on the touchscreen or with the right analogue, and depending the size of the drawing, you form a certain number of your followers into a weapon(fists, sword, whip, drill, boomerang, etc) using their nanotech. Also has parts where you build items in the environment, often bridges. Being a Platinum game, it’s a linear rollercoaster with only slight diversions and bits of backtracking, but it’s one hell of a rollercoaster.

      It’s the best superhero game I’ve ever played, and one of the best games of any kind I’ve ever played. I think it’s also the only real way to solve the problem Shamus mentions in the article about a Green Lantern who can only do a handful of powers being a disappointment: They’re not Green Lanterns, they’re just human beings with advanced weapons and technology that allows them to build giant replicas of those weapons using their team-mates. This explains why you can only make a given type of Unite Morph once you’ve recruited the character who has that weapon, a concept that would be downright nutty in a Green Lantern game.

  13. theNater says:

    One thing I’ve noticed about the Flash is that his reflexes don’t always keep up with his own speed. As such, I think the speed of the game could be made variable and function as a difficulty setting. The easiest setting is full-on bullet time mode, with the Flash moving at what appears to be normal human speeds. The hardest setting has the enemies moving at normal speed, with the Flash moving so fast the whole screen is a big blur whenever you move. Ideally, you’d be able to change settings freely at any time, preferably on a slider bar, so you can adjust your reflexes to the situation(if you get into a small room or cramped hallway, you’d turn it down; while running across the city, you’d turn it up). This idea also provides a benefit for using the highest speed you can handle-faster progress through objectives(in terms of real time spent).

  14. Hal says:

    I think you could make a Hulk game more interesting by including Bruce Banner in the mix. Bruce does investigatory, stealthy gameplay. Hulk does the dirty work. The challenge would be balancing things. You want Hulk-smashy time to be fun, but if it’s the failure state for the Bruce Banner periods, then it’s not much of a fun thing. Likewise, it could be a severe thematic disconnect to combine “stealth investigation” and “crazy beat-em-up god mode” gameplay.

    Still . . . I bet someone could make it work.

    1. Neil W says:

      Maybe you need a (non)-morality meter – Hulk points or Banner points. Solve all the problems with the Hulk means more Hulkbusters turning up; more smashing fun-time. Solve more problems with Banner then opens up more options and sidequests. Enough Banner points and maybe you get enough control to start and stop Hulking at will (or unlock the technology to do so). Too many Hulk points and you’ll Hulk out whether you like it or not.

      That’s too simplistic, but at least it isn’t some kind of lame “You must play as Banner to unlock this Hulk power”. I also remember someone saying that the Hulk is basically a werewolf story, which is why it doesn’t fit the standard superhero film template very well. I don’t know if that would be a way to think about it.

    2. Joshua says:

      I wonder if you could make an interesting Hulk game where controlling Hulk was very hard. You’re basically Banner, and at least at the beginning when you have a Hulk freak-out you can barely control what direction he goes in and how much collateral damage he does. As the game advances you learn more control… either as “power-ups” that make the controls more responsive, or maybe it’s just hard and you have to learn fighting-game-style combos just to force him to do X instead of Y as he’s rampaging.

  15. IronCastKnight says:

    Ghost Rider. He has the awesome transportation down, he’s not super ultra powered(most of the time), he has a good reason to butcher mooks as much as he can, and he’s awesome. Being awesome is the most important part, after all.

    1. Sleeping Dragon says:

      Now that’s actually an interesting idea I wouldn’t have thought of. I especially like the idea because Ghost Rider has never gained that much prominence around here so his lore is largely unknown to me. It also opens up a chance to tap into a rather underused current of the more “mystical” villains.

  16. Andrew F. says:

    I’m with Isy on Superman: It would have to be a Shadow of the Colossus take. Every fight’s a boss battle. I think, in the right hands, that would actually be a pretty cool game.

    For the Hulk, don’t forget the Banner angle. From a game perspective, you could have all your NPC interaction and puzzle solving done by Banner. Done well, playing up the emotional aspect of Banner’s transformation, the visceral, primal change to the Hulk could counterpoint the Banner gameplay really well.

    1. Thomas says:

      If you put every fight of Shadow of the Colossus back to back though, you wouldn’t have much of a game. It’d feel incredibly shallow and disappointing.

      The core of Shadow of the Colossus isn’t the Colossus themselves but the lonely world that they inhabit and your journey through that world. It’s not a template you can adapt to ‘a game about boss battles’.

      Loneliness doesn’t feel like a core Superman trait, not one you’d want to base a game around. And what do you replace that with?

      1. Thomas says:

        Hmm okay maybe that’s an actual question. What if you replace it with an open-world sandbox where superman flies around and saves civilians from mooks? The trick there is that the mooks aren’t meant to be a threat, functionally they’re the same as the white lizards in SoTC. The fun is being able to fly around a city as fast as superman and rescue people from helpless mooks. You can have them shoot at Superman and then drop their guns and fall to the ground when they realise it’s just bouncing off.

        The trick is not to frame it as ‘gameplay’. It’s little side-diversions that you do on the way to fight 16 world-defeating villains who destroy everything. You don’t even need to include a balance meter between saving civilians and stopping the big threats, because being Superman isn’t about making difficult choices, it’s about being good enough to always be able to do the right thing.

        I’m thinking that could give it a Superman All-Star vibe. You could even make it directly a game about that. Superman is dying and how does he spend his last days? Saving ordinary people and fighting off world-destroying threats. That even gives it the tinge of SotC loneliness

    2. MichaelGC says:

      And like LazerBlade said above, if you could make it so that turning into the Hulk is somehow to be avoided wherever possible, that’d be awesome. (Analogous to, I dunno, playing a stealth game where you have to engage in combat if you’ve “messed up” somehow.)

      No idea of the details of how that’d all work! – that’s for cleverer/more creative people to figger out!

      (On the subject of such people, if one of the big studios licensed a triple-A Rorschach game and appointed Shamus director, that’d be favourite!)

      1. Thomas says:

        I don’t know about wherever possible, but I think that whole idea is key. Film Crit Hulk suggested the key to a good Hulk story is you don’t _always_ want him to Hulk out. If you want him to constantly Hulk out, you lose the heart of the story, like with the Hulk games that were made and the Edward Norton film. If you never want him to Hulk out then it becomes too serious for the Hulk like with the Ang Lee film. It’s that balance between that The Avengers finds. The first time he Hulks out it’s a disaster, the second time it’s a heroic moment.

        A game that could really capture that balance would be amazing

        1. syal says:

          Don’t know how fun it would be, but if when you hulked out Hulk would fanatically attack whatever was in front of him and all you could do was aim him, it might discourage wanting to hulk out all the time.

  17. You could do a functional Superman game where the objectives are less “defeat mooks to progress” and more “find and rescue people to progress” with the occasional Mega-Boss fight to mix it up.

    It could actually be quite cool because it could be really fast-paced since during the main gameplay you wouldn’t have to worry about having Superman take damage. He could just be, literally, invulnerable, and the gameplay is all about rescuing people, stopping buildings from collapsing, shoring up breaking dams, catching nuclear missiles, etc. etc. etc. etc.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      Great idea! So it’s not Supes’ health-bar that you need to keep an eye on, but the city’s or planet’s or bunch-of-miniature-Krypton-survivors’ or whatever. That could definitely work!

    2. If they worked on the storyline for the game (gasp!) and made one’s choices matter for the final outcome of the game (swoon!), a Superman game where you had to choose between saving people or defeating a villain definitively would be a neat mechanic.

      Superman may defeat Lex Luthor, but the citizens of Metropolis who didn’t live to see it happen will haunt him forever…

      Yeah, it’s kind of dark, but you get the idea.

    3. Paul Spooner says:

      You could also play the time-management issues. Supe’s time spent as Clark Kent maintaining his cover (Why does he need cover?) would take time away from his crime fighting and world-saving. Establishing and maintaining relationships with individual humans could be played against protecting humanity as a whole. Lots of interesting angles here!

      1. I have NOT enjoyed much of the New 52, and I stopped keeping up with Superman, but I can tell you why he keeps the Clark Kent identity around. Or rather, I can tell you the more thoughtful reason, depending on the writer: It’s who he thinks he really is.

        It started out with the usual “if they know who I really am they’ll target my family and friends,” but since they’re often the ones that are in peril anyway, it’s kind of silly. Instead, a few writers have taken the idea that Superman thinks of himself as Clark Kent and treasures that life he has. Being Superman is important to him, but it’s more like being a soldier or a cop: The real person is the one with the family, hobbies, and an apartment full of knick-knacks.

      2. Lucas Picador says:

        Exactly! I haven’t seen a superhero game address the secret identity issue, which accounts for about 50% of the drama in a typical superhero comic book or movie.

        There are all kinds of ways you could deal with this. You could do a Sims-type time-management game, as you suggest. You could do a Hitman-style “where can I safely change out of my disguise?” game. You could even just alternate between scenes in and out of costume, which would give a lot of texture to the gameplay and heighten the exhilaration of the in-costume scenes by contrasting it with the limiting, civilian-identity activities — this would be particularly important for a Hulk game, for instance.

        1. You could even incorporate a stealth element where you have to find a way to disengage with your Secret ID or resume your Secret ID that won’t cause “suspicion”–and present you with opportunities where you can only get them to work for you if you go ahead and reveal that you are, in fact, Superman, but this still raises your “suspicion” level, and have a number of events that are tied to how well you’re managing that suspicion level.

          There’s a LOT of stuff you could do. It wouldn’t be an Arkham Asylum-style game, to be sure, but it wouldn’t have to be some huge mega-budget super-risky extravaganza, either.

          1. Heck, you could even USE Superman’s invulnerability as A Thing. Make it so he CAN just fly through buildings or plow into things and randomly destroy stuff. Then you build the game around some meters:

            1. The “Gratitude” meter. This is a measure of how much people like and root for Superman. Rescuing people and stopping disasters gets you gratitude. Destroying property, refusing requests for aid, smashing landmarks, letting villains get away, etc. all gives you neg gratitude.

            2. The “Suspicion” meter. This is a measure of how well you’re managing your secret ID.

            3. The “Kryptonium” meter, that measures your degree of Kryptonium exposure. This is kind of a skill meter–the higher it gets, the harder it is to steer when you’re flying, aim your heat vision, etc. and the more times you have to land attacks on bosses before you defeat them.

            Depending on the level of those meters, you get different dialog and some different options and situations as the game progresses. If your gratitude is really low, for instance, maybe the villain tries to tell you that “people hate you, why don’t you join me” or similar.

            The trick is to make it so there isn’t a simple success/failure state, so that, say, having less than 50% gratitude is a Game Over or You Get The “Bad” Ending. They should just lead to different results, so, maybe somebody who likes to play as a jerk will go around intentionally smashing up buildings. Maybe someone who thinks the entire Secret ID thing is a joke won’t bother to worry about the Suspicion meter at all and at the end of the game EVERYONE knows who Superman is. Maybe someone who can’t STAND to ever let a villain get away will constantly be coasting the red line with the Kryptonium exposure.

            Make it nice and organic, find interesting ways for the meters to interact, fill it with interesting challenges, and now you’ve even got some replay value and an easy 10+ hours of gameplay that doesn’t get stale.

  18. Ofermod says:

    I’m sure they don’t qualify as Superheroes, but I’d love to see more pulp action heroes: Zorro, Solomon Kane, John Carter (who would actually be pretty damn superheroic, being on Mars and whatnot), etc.

    My personal favourite, though, would have to be… The Shadow! With the power to cloud men’s minds!

    Could make for some interesting stealth gameplay. Especially since it wouldn’t work on cameras, for instance.

    1. TMTVL says:

      I don’t think anyone could top the Zorro game we already have. Might be interesting to see where someone else would take it, though.

      1. Ofermod says:

        There’s a Zorro game out there? How have I missed this?

  19. Retsam says:

    I know they aren't superheroes per se, I'd love to see some of Brandon Sanderson's magic systems turned into games. I know they're working on a Mistborn game, (and I really hope it isn't terrible) but there are a ton of systems in those books that I think could transition very naturally into video game mechanics. (e.g. Windrunning from Way of Kings)

  20. Blastinburn says:

    One way you could have a Superman game with mooks as a credible threat is to have them do damage to the city. The Superman Returns game did this, which is unfortunately did poorly. The main problem was there were only 2 ways to restore city health; defeat all currently active threats/finish a mission or rescue citizens. But rescuing citizens both restored an insultingly small amount of health and they would be fine and stand up (without healing the city) once all threats were removed, meaning you had to let the enemies continue wailing on the city while carrying citizens to an ambulance. As a result getting near cries for help (enemies didn’t spawn and start attacking until you were close enough) was a terrible idea.

    It should be noted that Superman’s modern powers were all there and most were fun to use, but on the other hand punching things didn’t work well since Superman stayed in place and didn’t have much range (he has human length arms and no weapon).

  21. Al__S says:

    Lego: Marvel Superheroes to a certain extent covers a couple of these.

    Hulk is mainly bit a one-sided, but they do make use of the ability to become Bruce Banner (something not all the Hulk-sized characters, eg The Thing) who is “normal sized” as part of puzzle solutions, which is neat. And as Hulk, he gets good lines.

    Thor gets an interesting combination of abilities- smashing things with his hammer, flight and electro-zapping. Useful in freeplay.

    Webslinging as Spiderman never gets old.

    1. Video game historians will note that you could change between Hulk and Banner in the Questprobe adventure games.

      If you haven’t heard of them, there’s several reasons for that, the primary one is “not being old,” followed by “the games sucked rocks.”

  22. bucaneer says:

    Superheroes are fine and all, but where are the pig butts? Rutskarn promised there would be pig butts. I want pig butts, dammit.

  23. SteveDJ says:

    I think you dismissed Superman too quickly. There’s been a couple interesting ideas just here in these comments, and I offer something in a different direction.

    In the original Superman movie (Christopher Reeve), Lex utilized TWO missles for him to chase down, not just one. Perhaps that idea of multiple threats at, or near, the same time could become quite a challenge, even for Superman?

    Also, while I never played Superman64, something in the article you linked to sounded like it could work out quite challenging: Superman loses (or takes penalties) if innocent CIVILIANS are hurt/killed. This could make encounters with simple ordinary mooks extremely challenging!

    1. Sleeping Dragon says:

      The problem I have with the “save the civilians” angle that you and several other commenters have suggested is that, especially in a sandbox game, is that it can easily turns into busywork. I know that in one, don’t remember which, of the spider-man games I got really tired of the constant endangered civilian alerts and the game chastising me for leaving them to their fates.

      Similarly, the “two missiles” thing isn’t really something that could carry the whole game in my opinion. It works for a single “no good choice” scene (Virmire in ME, or some of the choices in Infamous games) but it’s hardly something you can build x hours of gameplay around.

  24. Let me just throw out a wish that City of Heroes hadn’t been closed down.

    1. krellen says:

      You and me both, brother.

      1. Brandon says:

        Me too. That game was the best superhero game. And probably the best MMO.

        Definitely the best Superhero MMO.

    2. ZzzzSleep says:

      Yep, me too. Now I’m just waiting for City of Titans to come out, but I’ve still got a long time to wait….

  25. Deadpool says:

    Crazy idea: Tactical Strategy Game using the characters and story from Annihilation…

    I would pay lots of money to Kickstart that…

  26. Rick says:

    I actually think a Superman game would work pretty well. Since Superman is only ever as strong as he needs to be, you could easily fluff it as him having to power down in order to avoid killing everyone he fights or causing collateral damage. Keep him at around the level of power he was in the Justice League cartoon, and no one can really complain.

    Also give it to Platinum. If they can make a game where the player can throw a Metal Gear, they can make a Superman game.

  27. Mikey says:

    Volition could probably make a pretty good Flash game, judging by Saint’s Row IV.

    And I don’t think a Superman game would be that hard to make work. Last time I checked on the mythology, his powers come from being a Kryptonian living under the Earth’s sun. Who’s to say Kyrptonians are the only alien race to have that reaction? And the others aren’t as friendly as Supes… Bam! Credible threat. Hell, DC have probably been there and done that a few hundred times in the comics by now.

    Also, I wouldn’t say Spider-man 2: The Movie: The Game is the only good Spider-man game. I haven’t played it myself, so maybe it’s so good it makes these others look like unfinished crap, but I’ve played Ultimate Spider-man on PS2 and Web of Shadows on Wii, and really liked the both of them. (Although Ultimate’s boss fights are a chore, and Web of Shadows would be much, much better off without the QTEs.)

    Though I must admit, this is a topic I’m only half-interested in, since my ideal superhero game has already been made, I just need to import it.

  28. Dev Null says:

    I know this goes directly against all things Hollywood or AAA but… you could, you know, write a game about an original character, not cribbed from ancient history?

    You’ve already laid out some ideas about what would make a good game hero – mobility, upgradeability, downtime investigation-style activities. I’m sure you could come up with a few more things to sketch out a framework. Then fill in the blanks with a cape of your own invention. Be fun to play someone from the ground up, instead of carting around a bunch of newsprint baggage.

  29. DaveMc says:

    From the Experienced Points piece: “Either you’d need to dial [Superman’s] power level way down (at which point you’re no longer making a Superman game) or you’d need to make every challenge in the game into an epic boss fight or set-piece catastrophe. Not only would you need to invent entirely new gameplay for that sort of thing, but it would cost a fortune to produce.”

    It just occurred to me that maybe you wouldn’t need to invent new gameplay, just revive the gameplay of an old favourite, namely “Shadow of the Colossus”: a game consisting of nothing *but* epic boss fights, separated by some light wandering about. Replace the Colossi with natural disasters, alien demon gods and Kryptonite golems and maybe you could make it work …

    Whaddaya think?

    1. DaveMc says:

      Ha! And I typed this before realizing that in typical 20-Sided-Reader fashion, most of are focusing on the one hero Shamus immediately dismissed as impossible to make a game about. This amuses me. :)

  30. rayen022 says:

    I don’t know Spawn was pretty okay in the Xbox version of Soul Calibur 2…

  31. tychoxi says:

    I’m not sure I agree with your premise so much. You have decided open sand-box games is the way to go and then either shoe-horn the hero there or dismiss him/her.

    I could totally see a linear, mission-based 3rd-person action Avengers game.
    I could see an XCOMesque “Agents of Shield but with a couple superheroes in there” thing.
    A Max Payne-esque Daredevil game.

    and probably other stuff if I think more about it.

    1. Hal says:

      “XCOM-Agents of SHIELD”

      I would play that in a heartbeat.

      1. Kereminde says:

        Would we be able to cheat-code in Agent Coulson?

    2. Shamus says:

      ” You have decided open sand-box games is the way to go and then either shoe-horn the hero there or dismiss him/her.”

      The point of the exercise was to talk about what budget-conscious, risk-averse, trend-chasing publishers and IP holders might do to replicate an existing success. This keeps the article from just being a “I WISH I HAD A [favorite superhero] GAME!”, which is less interesting and too broad.

  32. Mechaninja says:

    Re: Cap and Wolvy, just use some kind of Shield (technology or mooks) as transportation. Teleporters or Shield Agents on call, doesn’t matter. Use those as loading screens, but if we’re making an open world and you have to find the new [pad or taxi stand], then you better make it pretty not-lame how you do it.

    The other thing I’d accept is teleporter pads you can place (and ideally move), but you can only have say two per “zone”, because they aren’t reliable if they are too close together. Or something.

    1. Thomas says:

      I don’t know much about Captain America at all, but would a sandbox game even feel right for him? I always imagined him as more of a mission based character than patrolling the streets for thugs.

      His normal athletic moveset would be fine fine for a linear game. The problem you need to solve is about how a linear hack ‘n slash feels like Captain America, but I think a good hub area and the right focus on shield combat would probably solve that

      1. Yes, Cap is VERY mission-oriented. Without a group that helps provide transport and intel, he’s just a guy who hits good, pretty much. A lot of heroes have this problem, in that they’re great support characters, power-wise, but without someone to tell them where the bad guys are and what they’re doing, the idea that they just patrol and happen upon evil is kind of a stretch.

        The best way to make Cap interesting is through moral/ethical decisions and command decisions. That requires plot, choice, and good writing, so we can probably scratch a good Captain America game that isn’t on rails.

  33. Paul Spooner says:

    Wolverine poses some of the same problems as Superman in that his health really isn’t a limiting factor (factor, get it?). Some other resource would need to be success-critical, whether it’s time, movement, or simple momentum. Interestingly, Wolverine seems to have a recurring theme of motivation, or lack therof. Perhaps that could be turned into a mechanic, where if you run out of motivation, Logan just shrugs and walks out of the conflict. This could provide some really potent story hooks, where character moments or decisions are sources of motivation for Logan, but also limit the kinds of actions he will take in pursuit of his goals.

    Aquaman could have some really neat play potential. Couple it with some solid submarine simulation and it could be something truly magical… or just implement a “swimming Aquaman trident iron-sights” and call it a day.

    In any case, your premise stands strong. The field of superhero game potential is ripe! Let the harvest begin!

    1. “Perhaps that could be turned into a mechanic, where if you run out of motivation, Logan just shrugs and walks out of the conflict.”

      That’s hilarious. I like it.

  34. KMJX says:

    Uhm actually, a pretty fun Captain America game exists. And it’s free.

    I believe the mechanics should be simple enough that you won’t need to actually understand the German language to enjoy it.

    Will only steal a couple of hours from you.
    You can download it over at
    the creator’s site

    If you understand the language, his other projects are definitely worth your time.
    I must warn you to stay away from El Dorado though (it’s purely graphical so you wont need to understand German for this one either). It’s just not healthy to stay glued to a screen for that long.

  35. Bropocalypse says:

    You know, I think Aquaman gets a bad rap. He’s pretty cool looking these days. I think his biggest flaw isn’t his character or appearance, though. Mostly, I think that “underwater” isn’t as interesting of a setting basis as certain others, especially since visuals would be muddied by realistic water occlusion. The modern long-haired, hook-handed badass king of the sea might just be too mythical for anything but backstory.
    On the other hand, if you could have him dealing with something involving an underwater city a la Rapture, that might work.

  36. The Occupant says:

    I disagree that Wonder Woman hasn’t gotten any good screen time, it’s just been on the small screen. Justice League/Justice League Unlimited was an awesome show. Sure, they had to tone down certain things compared to the comics, but she still came across as a strong, competent superhero.

  37. I may be unleashing an infernal can of English Majors, but the title bugs me:

    “Superheroes that should be games.”

    Shouldn’t it be “Comic books that should be games?” The original title sounds odd when you swap out different nouns. For example:

    Celebrities that should be books.
    Dogs that should be movies.
    Wizards that should be songs.

    I dunno what the grammar police procedure manual says about this, but it just struck my ear as slightly off. It could just be me.

    1. anaphysik says:

      Comments that should be grammar police.

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        I think you got that backward, it’s supposed to be “Grammar police that…” Oh.
        Oh I see.

        Very clever.

    2. Shamus says:

      Yes, the grammar is off. I don’t know know how it sounds for non-native speakers, or even non-Shamus people, but for me it’s off in a funny way. It’s also shorter, which is really important for article titles. It also has that “Wait, what?” double-take thing that works good in headlines.

      1. Ah, I see. Then a Winner is You! :)

    3. burningdragoon says:

      Wizards that should be songs? You got it.

      (also the ‘proper’ way would, I guess, be “Superheroes that should have games”)

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        Or perhaps “Superheroes that should be player characters in some games that I just thought up so let me tell you about them.” but that doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as well.

      2. Rick says:

        “Superheroes that should have games” sounds like you are saying that the Punisher should probably pick up a gaming PC. Have him take out some of his issues there.

      3. syal says:

        I guess that means I’ve got Dogs that are movies.

        “Superheroes who should be in games.”

  38. anaphysik says:

    There already is a Punisher game. And it is glorious.

  39. burningdragoon says:

    You could probably wrangle some kind of Thor game out of the first two inFamous games.

    1. Taellosse says:

      Mm…the overlap is pretty limited. While Thor does have control over electricity, it’s a side-effect of his being a storm god – he doesn’t manipulate the current in power lines and transformers, he summons lightning from the heavens to smite people. Besides, it’s not something he does as his first move – Thor hits things with his hammer a lot more often than he fires bolts of lightning at them. Plus, he’s got high-speed flight and far more strength and durability than Cole.

      1. burningdragoon says:

        Didn’t mean to imply you could just reskin inFamous and get Thor, but I think there’s enough of a melee, powers, and movement foundation that it’d be a good start.

  40. Brandon says:

    Green Arrow would be a prime candidate for an Arkham style game. Stealth, brawling, travelling across the city with grappling hooks, trick arrows instead of gadgets. Hell, it could be similar enough that it would almost be a palette swap. Instead of gliding with Batman’s cape, you would use his arrows to set up ziplines between buildings, that would be kind of neat.

    He has enough of a villains gallery and supporting cast that it wouldn’t be hard to design a story, either. Could also have the player interact with the public as Ollie as well. I’d rather see DCAU Ollie than the Arrow TV show Ollie, though.

    I’d love to see a Birds of Prey game along a similar line, too. Black Canary is one of my favourite heroes.

    1. GiantRaven says:

      Throw in a Boxing Glove Arrow and I’ll play that all day, every day.

    2. Sleeping Dragon says:

      I think gadget based heroes (Green Arrow, Hawkeye, Batman… umm… that guy from New Warriors?) lend themselves better to the sandbox superhero gameplay the way it’s been executed so far. They are rarely overpowered to the point of making them unplayable, they usually have most of the weaknesses of ordinary humans and obtaining as well as upgrading powers can be easily explained.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        (since no edit option)
        Punisher, as Shamus mentioned in the article, falls under this as well since he’s also gear reliant.

        1. Ravens Cry says:

          I can’t stand the Punisher. He’s just a vigilante serial killer to me.
          You need to be more than that to be a super HERO in my books.

          1. Vect says:

            The Punisher is a vigilante serial killer. Very few heroes in the Marvel Universe are willing to cooperate with him and the only reason they don’t go after him is because they either have more important business on hand or they try to avoid him entirely.

    3. Dev Null says:

      …and as a stealth + gadget arrow game would essentially be a remake of Thief 2, this is a total win (because that game needs a remake. Or really just a graphics overhaul.)

      Thought a heard a rumour that one was in the works, actually.

  41. Viktor says:

    Wrong direction with Flash. Don’t think BulletTime(yes, he should have it, but as a super or similar boost), rather, picture Flash as a sandbox Sonic equivalent. Lots of races, timed sections, and ‘stop as many crimes as possible while going from point A to point B” missions. Use Assassins Creed-style context controls so Flash does what you want at a full sprint, and Burnout Paradise/Sonic-style city design, and suddenly you’ve got a Flash who sprints through a city, running up walls and leaping off ramps to get where he’s going, stopping crimes along the way almost in passing.

    1. Taellosse says:

      I have a feeling that sounds a lot better than it would be in execution. I think there’s a good reason there hasn’t been a good Sonic game since they tried to jump to 3D, and it isn’t just because Sega is inept – moving really fast in 3 dimensions is very, VERY hard to do well.

    2. Flash is a problem character, as are most speedsters. They are walking (running) plot holes. The biggest question you always have is why they didn’t use X variant of their powers they used in issue/episode Y? I’ve seen him vibrate through ice in one story and then wind up trapped in it in a later one.

      Also, specific to the DCU: The idiots in charge of Superman eventually make Superman so powerful that the Flash is redundant. In one of the early New 52 issues, Supes reads the entire Metropolis library’s section on medicine in ten minutes so he can (this part is REALLY stupid) perform surgery on a dying Lois Lane. I thought the rapid acquisition of knowledge was the newest Flash’s schtick, but why bother with him? We’ve got Super-Superman now.

      Finally, the other difficulty with the Flash is his rogues gallery is kind of lame. His best roles are with the JLA.

  42. Spammy says:

    They did make a Spider-man 2 for the PC. I picked it up because everyone was oohing and ahing over the console version, and I had plenty of fond memories of the comic-book based Spider-man game.

    Also I was like 13 and didn’t know how to research games.

    Spider-man 2 for the PC was godawful. It was technically open world, but that world was like four blocks. Combat as boring. Web-slinging was boring because you could only sling from specific points. It looked bad, it played bad. There is a reason why I still look fondly back on the old Spider-man game, and will never touch Spider-man 2 for the PC again.

    Although if I have to be completely fair, Spider-man 2 did have two good levels. One had you climbing and jumping through the framework of a building under construction, and the other was in wacky Mysterio land and was like a less 2D, less boss fight, more better version of the Scarecrow segments of Arkham Asylum.

  43. Heaven Smile says:


    If people enjoy characters like Vhailor from Planescape Torment, or Samara from Mass Effect 2, then they will dig Rorschach as well.


    HAHAHAHAHA! Aquaman joke!”


    And yet you fail to notice that he stopped being useless since the 60’s.


    How can a super hero that goes “Shadow Of The Colossus” against Cthulhu monster and the horrors of the depth sea can POSSIBLY suck?

    Even real life shit is Lovecraftian, and since they belong to the sea, does that mean he can control these?


    And if we go by evolution logic that humans evolved all the way from the Primordial Soup, does that mean that Aquaman can mind control us?

    1. Shamus says:

      OH MY GOSH. That was the strangest bit of reflexive defense of a one-line joke I’ve seen in a long time. I’m glad you like him and all, but Aquaman is funny to me and always will be. The fact that he fights giant sea monsters only makes him more funny, not less.

      Yes, the joke has been made before. That’s how running jokes work.

      1. It doesn’t help that his outfit was orange and green. I don’t think even a hero named “Captain Florida Citrus” would dress in orange and green.

      2. Heaven Smile says:

        “That's how running jokes work”

        Nah nah nah. The inability for games (or Final Fantasy in this case) to reconcile gameplay and story and work together (like having The Phoenix Down BE a part of the setting and not just unaddressed gameplay) IS a running joke:


        The writers of Bioware STILL thinking that they have an “Artistic Vision” and that the haters of the ending were clearly a “vocal minority”, that my friend, IS a running joke:


        Aquaman still stuck on its 60’s incarnation stopped being a running joke a few years later. But for all its efforts, it seems that it would never go away from the consciousnesses of people. I mean holy crap. I dont like this character (i prefer the nihilistic megalomania of Thanos from Marvel) but i cannot believe that even for all the facts at hand, people cannot get beyond the 60’s impression.

        How did this happen anyway? Batman had its own share of embarrassingly silly stuff yet people STILL think of Batman as a serious figure as soon someone mentions him. Even with this existing people still think of a man dressed as a bat as serious business:

        But Aquaman cannot catch a break. A single bad joke cost him its entire image, regardless of how well written or better it has gotten since.

        Its one of those thing in life that i cannot explain how the hell did it ended up like this.

        1. Shamus says:

          Are you trying to convince me that I don’t find something funny? Because… that’s nuts.

          You never even asked me what I DO find funny about the guy. I doubt you care and I don’t think you’re here for a conversation about Aquaman. I think you’ve got an axe to grind. Not interested.

          1. Paul Spooner says:

            AN axe to grind? Singular? Heaven Smile grinds EVERY axe. He’s like the local ax grinder. He’ll grind your ax for free. He’ll grind your ax even if it’s sharp already. He’ll sneak into your house late at night, nip off with your axe, and wake the whole neighborhood grinding that sucker!

            The sad thing is they aren’t even sharp when he’s done. The maniac grinds them right down to the haft.

        2. It’s mostly because he’s so tied to his element, I think, and all the tropes that go along with that.

          His powers are ocean-centric, so taking him out of that environment makes him less impressive from the get-go. Having the plot swerve to incorporate the ocean and/or sea life seems contrived. I’d refer you to the Simpsons spoof of Knight Rider called “Knight Boat.” A bunch of criminals on jet ski’s elude the black super-boat by beaching their vehicles and hopping on motorcycles:

          MICHAEL: We’ll never catch them now!
          KNIGHT BOAT: Incorrect. Look: a canal.
          HOMER SIMPSON: Go, Knight Boat, go!
          BART SIMPSON: [groans] Oh, every week there’s a canal.
          LISA SIMPSON: Or an inlet.
          BART SIMPSON: Or a fjord.

          You get the idea. Then there’s Atlantis, which usually conjures 50’s sci-fantasy images of scantily-clad princesses with gills and soldiers that need pants. Aquaman’s origin and character have been retconned several times, which means it’s harder to tell the casual media consumer, “No, THIS is the Aquaman of today, not the goofy guy from Superfriends.”

          Given his specialty powers and idiom, he’s best consumed by the masses as a support character (see my post above about the Flash), unless and until the average gamer/viewer becomes interested in undersea stuff to the same level they seem to desire stories about vampires. Right now, if they released an Aquaman game, I’d wager that a lot of casual consumers would look at the ads and see “DC Comics” and ask, “Why isn’t this a Superman or Batman game?”

          1. Dev Null says:

            I love that Simpsons Knight Boat ep.

            Aquaman's origin and character have been retconned several times, which means it's harder to tell the casual media consumer, “No, THIS is the Aquaman of today, not the goofy guy from Superfriends.”

            I don’t really think you _get_ to tell the modern consumer which Aquaman they’re dealing with. Shamus’ article was about conservative AAA gaming; the whole reason they would consider doing a game about a known comic book hero is that they could tap into what is already known for sales. It doesn’t _matter_ if he’s been retconned into Duke Nukem or My Little Unicorn or even something really cool since then; its about what’s in the public conciousness – which for Aquaman, I reckon, is Captain Navel Orange from the superfriends. Batman doesn’t work because of what’s in the comics, he works because of what _isn’t_; all the stuff that people who don’t read comics know about. Anyone who’s ever wikipaedia’d a comic book character knows they’re all part of (at least one) infinite recursive web of backstory, but you can’t use that to sell AAA games, because not everyone has time to get a Phd in Marvelverse.

          2. Dev Null says:

            Oh, also? The Simpsons spoof was actually a real show. With Hulk Hogan in it. I am not making this up.

      3. Heaven Smile says:

        I dont see how fighting giant sea monsters is funny in this case. I suppose that the Cthulhu Mythos is quite a hard read for you, since almost everything was inspired by sea creatures that look weird to Lovecraft.

        And trust me, no matter how silly Aquaman might be, to you even in the most “So Bad Its Good” scenario written by David Cage & Tommy Wiseau, it CANNOT top these 2 “superheroes”: Captain Novolin (for SNES) & Dyslexia Beater (for ZX Spectrum)


        There is always something stupider if you know where to look.

        You know? i forgot to mention Thor. You dont need to look very far for his game, since its first game was the best game ever that could ever be made. Ever.


        And as one of the best games of this generations, all superhero games should be like it. How can a game exclusively about Thor be compatible for the gameplay of ALL heroes? because its the best game ever, that is how. And because its the best there is, i will give it my highest score:

        Tony Jay / James Earl Jones + 11

        See? i can get on the joke as well.

        1. Heaven Smile says:

          This is what i get for trying to make a joke at top typing speed:
          “..no matter how silly Aquaman might be, to you even in the most..”

          Should have gone:
          “..no matter how silly Aquaman might be to you, even in the most… ”

          Still worth it.

  44. Chamomile says:

    I think you’re being a little bit unfair to Spider-Man 1 and 3. They aren’t as well-remembered as Spider-Man 2 but they weren’t a mess. Spider-Man 1 was the culmination of the Spider-Man beat-em-up genre, and while I haven’t played the pre-movie Spider-Man games since childhood and cannot speak to their quality, I have recently revisited Spider-Man 1 and it was good. Not great, but good. The stealth sections were a combination of watching patrols and wall-crawling puzzles, and that worked. The combat was interesting and while it would’ve benefited from using an RPG-style upgrade system or automatically unlocking combos at certain points in the story (the collectable-based combos meant that a casual player ended up spamming a small number of combos, which limited your arsenal and made things a bit repetitive), the combat itself was very good for its time. You bounced around all over the place like you were actually Spider-Man and it felt like whether you won or lost was a function of how good you were at beating up bad guys, rather than luck or the irritating “spam your only good attack over and over” style that Spider-Man 2 relied on. The voice acting was decent, the writing was pretty good, and the unlockable bonus content was spectacular. Spidey bowling and the playable Green Goblin (complete with dialogue for playing as Harry Osborn) were an excellent touch. Spider-Man 1 didn’t really do anything new, but it took everything that had been done before and did it very well and I think that’s worth something on its own. Of course, it also wasn’t openworld at all. Stages were decently large, but they were self-contained.

    Spider-Man 3 was a step down particularly in the face of Spider-Man 2. Swinging was better than Spider-Man 1 but it wasn’t the gameplay defining fun that it was in Spider-Man 2. The writing and voice-acting were both kind of bland. But its combat was a lot better than Spider-Man 2, the way you could take the city back from various criminal gangs was a pretty good idea (although it got grindy after a while and could have used more variety in its missions), and the black suit mechanics were well done. I’m not sure if a Spider-Man game has ever had the “switch between black and red suits” mechanic before (besides using the symbiote suit as an unlockable costume that maybe gave you a powerup, which is different from switching in realtime as part of the plot), and that worked pretty well, so if Spider-Man 3 was in fact the first, they deserve credit for that.

    Spider-Man 1 and 3 were not amazing games. They aren’t overlooked classics or anything. But they were good.

  45. Nick Powell says:

    A hulk game would be easy! Just put him in the Red Faction: Guerilla engine and leave him alone with the player for a few hours.

  46. Some Other Chris says:

    Spawn’s costume design is so awful that it doesn’t even work in its intended medium. It’s too big for comic panels and looks utterly absurd in still shots. The only time it even vaguely worked was in that terrible movie, and the less said about that the better.

    Ant-Man/Wasp/Ray Palmer/Jake The Dog:
    Shrinking/Enlarging powers lend themselves pretty naturally to videogames, the only pitfall I see would be the cost of designing higher-detailed assets for when you’re super-tiny.

    1. Given the “me too” God of War knock-offs that have been churned out, I’m kind of amazed they didn’t just make a Medieval Spawn video game by now. As heck-ion (take that moderation filter!) version of a dude in Kurgan-esque armor, he looks less ridiculous running around destroying people.

      Making a decent game would still be a problem, but that’s most of the visual problems sorted.

  47. kdansky says:

    > It’s difficult to make an open-world game with destructive scenery.

    Not really, just start with Minecraft and then go from there. Destructible scenery isn’t really hard to do, but it interferes with the AAA’s requirement for box-canyon linear plots.

    1. Ugh. I loves me some Minecraft, but the lag from chunk loading as well as you carrying around the world’s only bubble of forward-moving time gets on my nerves a bit.

  48. cannotbebothertothinkofaname says:

    Regarding Flash, what about SUPERHOT?

  49. Daimbert says:

    One way around a lot of the issues you’re citing is to stop thinking in terms of one hero and start thinking in terms of a team. For example, you could divide up an Arkham City type game into a team by, using the X-Men as an example, having someone like Arcade or Mojo “capture” the X-Men and send them into separate sections of Murderworld or the Mojoverse, which means that you’d get and design levels appropriate for each of them, with simlar mechanics but different actions. Thus, you can put Wolverine into an area where his lack of mobility isn’t a problem, with other sections for Nightcrawler or Storm. This would even help Superman because you could design a LEVEL that limits him without having to have a GAME that did that.

    That being said, there are still older successful games that can still be emulated, like the X-Men Legends/Marvel Ultimate Alliance games, which also focused on a team as opposed to a single hero. And what has always bothered me — and we can see it in the comments here as well — is that people don’t take existing engines and build a superhero game out of them. I’ve long thought that the Wizardy or Infinity Engine games could have easily supported superheroes, and don’t see why the Oblivion/Skyrim/Dragon Age/Mass Effect models couldn’t either. If you’re looking to be che … er, efficient, plunking superheroes into an existing engine seems to be a no-brainer if you pick the right heroes.

  50. I’d like to second Daredevil. He’s great for a low-power game. He’s got some swinging ability for transportation and fun, although not major league. He’s tough enough to beat up on mooks satisfactorily but not so tough that they’re irrelevant to him. And plus you could have fun doing cool mechanics for his ludicrous multi-bounce accuracy, and maybe for his sonar “vision”, which might give him the ability to for instance “see” people who are behind stuff, because he can hear their heartbeat and all that jazz. Also you could get odd bits of info dropped on him like “This person in the mask has the SAME heartbeat as . . .” dun Dun DUNNNN! Or “You can hear something wrong with the huge machine dominating the room–its tempo is irregular, and speeding up. It may soon explode!”

    Nightcrawler is an odd possibility. He’s mobile, acrobatic like Bats, and travel is taken care of by his ability to teleport. But his ability to teleport–like, all the time, in combat–would be a challenge. Depending how well it was handled I can imagine it being wildly fun or downright annoying for one of your main schticks to be “bamf”ing out of the way of opponents to appear behind them, or on top of them or whatever. The mechanics for rearranging your facing and stuff could be clumsy as all get out if done badly.

    Then there’s Deadpool. He’s not a hero but people seem to like him anyway because he’s so sarcastic and funny.

    Superman could be done as a game, but the Arkham mechanics would, yeah, not be much use. A Superman game would have to be sort of the inverse of a fighting game with cutscenes. It would have to be a wandering-around-talking-and-investigating game with occasional switches into combat. The problem for Superman isn’t so much defeating the foe, it’s figuring out what the foe is up to and tracking them down and avoiding the kryptonite. For combat you’d just have some scenes sprinkled in here and there, with a good half of them not even presenting any kind of challenge, just so you can have fun being Supe with bullets bouncing off and effortlessly collaring a criminal or two, and only a couple of genuine fights where you’re really threatened. There should be some sort of explicit thing where Superman has some kind of massive damage resistance threshold, and when you get hit something off in the corner of the screen, that you can turn off if you want, goes “Rocket launcher did 2300 damage. You take: 0” and maybe a little green flash when you get whacked by something that does nothing at all, versus a red flash if you’re actually damaged. But the main keys to success would probably have to be in the adventure part–figure out the clues right, do something clever to forestall or counter the enemy’s trump card that would deactivate you, and you win the final fight with only medium trouble. Fail to do that stuff and you’re kind of toast.

    1. Shamus says:

      You really sold me on Daredevil, there.

      Like Thor, I kinda get that he’s a big deal, but I’ve never spent much time with the character. Most of what I know about him is from the movie, which I understand is not cherished among DD fans.

      Still, this sounds almost like a solid excuse to steal “detective vision” from Arkham: Some alternate view where you see different things.

      1. For gadgets of a different nature, plus a lot more role-play, I wouldn’t mind seeing a Hellblazer game.

        But only if they made John Constantine a Brit. I mean, half of our movie superheroes are from the UK, so why not just let one actually do the character as written?

    2. Dev Null says:

      Plus, for Daredevil, the graphics assets will be _super_ cheap to produce.

      1. I hear it’s already compatible with the Oculus Rift.

        1. DaveMc says:

          Ha! Well done.

  51. Abnaxis says:

    It’s pretty clear that the reason we have so much Batman is that people are already familiar with him. You just aren’t going to get that kind of penetration with any other super hero.

    So what I think is, if you’re making a game about an esoteric super-hero anyway, pick up a web-comic and make a game about it. The developer/publisher/whoever-the-hell-it-is-who-takes-care-of-this could pay peanuts for the licensing and it still be a windfall amount to an independent artist. Plus, there’s a lot more selection.

    And just to sweeten the pot, you could make a PR event out of selecting the comic–put out a public call for proposals and let the public see who you’re considering. Make the most out of the drama and frenzy sown.

  52. SlothfulCobra says:

    There already was a really good Hulk game, Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. It was basically what you’d expect, open world smashing up the army as they come after you, but I’d like to see a game based on an alternate identity the Hulk had for a time: Joe Fixit.

    He was an enforcer in Las Vegas, and that would make a great setting for a game. Basically it would be GTA in Las Vegas, but instead of shooting people and driving around, you would punch people and jump from building to building. If that’s not cool, I don’t know what is.

  53. Joey245 says:

    Shamus, now that you got me thinking on this, a Dr. Strange game COULD work. You’d just need to find a way to give the player a huge variety of reality-warping magical powers, but make it work in gameplay terms that don’t boil down to “magic missile” or “magic fist”

    I confess, I’m not that familiar with the Dr. Strange mythos (Please don’t kill me Mumbles!), my only real experience being an anime-esque movie by Lionsgate called “Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme.” But from what I understand, doesn’t Dr. Strange mostly fight demons and ghosts? I had never really pegged him as the “break up a burglary because I passed them on my way to get coffee” kind of guy in the same way that Spider-Man is. Most enemies in this hypothetical game wouldn’t be human, so we wouldn’t have to worry about that whole “superheroes shall not kill” concept that keeps Dr. Strange from busting out his biggest spells that no human could survive.

    So that would work from a story standpoint. (I might elaborate on that later, so keep reading if you want.) Now, in terms of gameplay…well, I don’t know if anyone’s played it, but I think Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep had the best magic/special attack casting in real time combat system of any game ever.

    Basically in Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, you have a button dedicated to attacking, a button dedicated to dodging, a button dedicated to jumping, and a button dedicated to casting. If you push the casting button at any time, you cast a spell. The spell cast is determined by something called the Command Deck, which is a menu that you can scroll through with the D-Pad at any time. It’s got a set number of slots, and you can fill those slots with a huge assortment of spells and combat moves – like a fireball spell, or a smack on the head, or a sliding dash move, or a healing spell, or anything in between. In an actual battle, you select the command you want to use, and press the casting button when you have it highlighted. Once you cast the spell (or command), it’s unusable for a little while, going into a WoW-like cooldown state. But in the meantime, you’re free to use whatever other commands are in your deck – and just to help you out, the Command Deck automatically cycles to highlight the next readily available spell, ready to fire with just another press of the casting button.

    I’m probably over-explaining this, but it’s really smooth and intuitive in practice. It allows you to pull off some pretty useful and devastating combos – like stunning a boss with a Stun Strike, using a healing spell on yourself to keep yourself alive, then casting a spell that places magical landmines right under the boss’s feet, giving him a rude surprise when he comes to again. You’re limited by how many slots in your command deck, however, so it’s balanced out. Initially you’d only have a few slots at the beginning of the game, but as you progress through the story mode, you get more and more slots to put more and more powerful spells and abilities in.

    This only scratches the surface of the combat mechanics in Birth By Sleep. There’s more powerful commands that take up two slots, there’s abilities from commands that modify your stats, and a lot of other cruft that’s beyond my desire to talk about. But the point is, the Command Deck offers a solid core for a game about (basically) Spellswords.

    Something like that might work for Dr. Strange, if implemented well. Give him a casting button, have a spell list in a visibly convenient location, and give the player the ability to swap out the spells in the list on the fly. Give each spell a specific cooldown rate, make them varied and interesting, and make each one feel powerful and satisfying, yet effortless for Dr. Strange to cast. And the ability to organize your own spell list would allow you to make some effective combos – for example, if you have a spell that banishes enemies that are on fire, you could put it immediately behind a spell that sets fire to every enemy around you, so that when you torch the bad guys that have you cornered in combat, the spell list scrolls to the next available spell, allowing you to instantly banish the enemies you just set on fire and give yourself some breathing room.

    Also: in the movie I’m using as reference, Dr. Strange (as well as most of the other magic characters) were able to conjure weapons out of mid-air through sorcery. I see no reason why this couldn’t be in the game – just have another spell list easily accessed, and choose which weapon to conjure just like any other spell. Each weapon would have a durability, but if it broke, you’d just be able to summon another weapon instantly. You could use the usual variety of swords and stuff, as well as a choice of more exotic weapons, each one with its own durability, damage, and unique look and feel.

    We’d also need to make Dr. Strange mobile and versatile, but not overtly so. We don’t want a squishy wizard who can’t take a hit without going down, but we don’t want him leaping and flipping around like Batman does (or Nilin from Remember Me, loved that game). Something like a short range teleport or an electric slide (tee hee) to let him dodge attacks, and a counter button that redirects enemy attacks either into the ground, into each other, or into itself. Instead of having a health bar, Dr. Strange could have a series of wards that protect him from the nasty stuff demons can do – much like your focus idea from your Dueling system, this would allow the game to have a hit points meter without the player questioning how this dude’s still alive after taking a flaming spear to the FACE.

    We could even have something similar to how damaged Batman’s costume got during Arkham Asylum, through how Dr. Strange looks, sounds, and acts throughout the game. At the beginning of the game, Dr. Strange would be cool and collected – his posture would be nonchalant, his casting animations would be precise and deliberate, and his voice clips would be his typical “Sorcerer Supreme” style boasting. But as the game goes on, the various wards he’s maintained, spells he’s cast, and stuff he’s seen starts taking its toll on him, and starts getting more and more weary as the game continues. By the final boss, he’d be looking utterly drained, as continuing gets harder and harder – his posture would be slumped and panting, his casting animations would be wilder and less precise, and he’d practically be shouting as he speaks in combat. His power, stats, and spells would still be just as effective as they always were (because stat drain sucks), but it’d be a good way of communicating to the player that even the badass extraordinaire Dr. Strange is having trouble getting this done.

    As for the story, how does this sound? During a typical demon-hunting excursion (aka the opening mission and tutorial), Dr. Strange pursues a beast too deeply into its home dimension and gets sealed in, trapped and unable to make it back to the Sanctum Sanctorum. He has to spend the rest of the game finding (and fighting) his way back out, meeting all kinds of horrible and imaginative demons that are limited only to the dev team’s imagination. (And budget, obviously). If given the same attention to detail as was paid to Arkham Island, it could be mystical and surreal, but it could still be clear to the player where to go, what to do, and how to do it.

    What dimension, you might ask? Well…that’s the fun part. Any dimension would work! Marvel’s already got a huge list of Hells, Heavens, and Purgatories – like the Nine Realms from Thor, or Dormammu’s domain, or anything in between. Dr. Strange is magical in nature, so it’s not much of a stretch that he’d appear in Jotunheim or whatever.

    Dr. Strange would have ways to get around, of course. Levitation would be the easiest to implement and the most satisfying if done right, but they could also add in some warp points and shortcuts that take him to places more quickly, but at the cost of passing through some dangerous territory. If levitation’s not allowed due to the story, then there’s always the option of riding something in the environment, like a river or a line of energy – he couldn’t control the direction, but he could ride it as it goes across the landscape quickly and get off close to where he needs to be. And he’d have context-sensitive spells that can break barriers, open sealed gates, block current flows, or plug chasms. Ideally, Dr. Strange would have several different spells to do each action with (such as blasting a lock open, or triggering the unlocking mechanism, or causing the lock to rust and disintegrate), which would be different each time he did an action. This way, the player doesn’t have to watch Dr. Strange blast open gate after gate the same exact way each and every time you need to open that dang gate.

    So basically, if we had a solid writing team, a budget large enough and dev cycle long enough to polish to near perfection, an art direction that evokes mystifying and imaginative graphics rather than photo realism, and a dev team with a deep respect for the source material combined with what I’ve outlined above…then it might work. I’m not a game developer, so I have no idea how all this would play out. But does it sound like something you guys would want to play?

    …If you read this all the way to the end, I must say I’m impressed.

  54. Darren says:

    Some of those have had decent games before, though. Hulk leaps to mind, as the Hulk game was basically a prototype of Prototype. Marvel also got a lot of mileage out of the Diablo-like Alliance franchise. And let’s not forget about the LEGO games, either.

    I’ve thought that what designers don’t get is that superheroes are more than just punch factories (well, some of them).

    Here’s my idea for a multiplayer superhero game:

    1) One side is heroes, one side is villains.
    2) The heroes must stop the villains by defeating them, oh, let’s say three times each
    3) The villains must pursue goals that differ from villain to villain (i.e. Catwoman might want to pick up valuables on the map, Lex Luthor might want high-end materials that he can convert to weapons, etc.)
    4) Anything villains do also causes an increase in “Mayhem.”
    5) If Mayhem exceeds a certain threshold, the heroes lose
    6) Heroes can reduce Mayhem by stopping crimes. For instance, if a villain has caused a plane to start crashing, Superman can stop it and negate the Mayhem penalty, but failing to do so causes a HUGE boost.
    7) Thus, villains may or may not cooperate (and may even be at odds with one another; Parasite would be a cool villain for this reason), and can collectively win the game simply by pursuing their individual agenda. Heroes must coordinate to succeed, and will by necessity sometimes have to allow the villains to escape in order to avoid the Mayhem penalty.

    I’m not sure that it’s perfect, but I think it’s a reasonable design.

  55. DaveMc says:

    Here’s a question for the crowd: Why has no single-player superhero game (that I know of) even *attempted* the level of customization they had in City of Heroes? Is there something that makes that fundamentally impossible in a single-player context?

    To answer myself: The only thing I can think of is that an MMO can rely on grouping to fill in gaps in your powers, so you can be a healer or a glass cannon and rely on teaming up with tough characters to keep you alive …

    But self, surely one could design a single-player game with a range of powers wider than “being Spider-Man” without necessarily making it possible/easy to bork your character through poor power choices.

    I ask because I would love a single-player version of City of Heroes, where you could create your own hero as desired, then run around a city and beat up thugs. (Then tougher thugs, then *armoured* thugs, then robotic thugs from another dimension … until at last you defeat Lord von Thug and the Thug-Tones.)

    A lot of us would never make it out of the character creation screen …

    1. Dreadjaws says:

      They made that game, it’s called Saints Row IV.

      1. DaveMc says:

        Really? Huh. I’ve never played any of those games, so I can’t entirely tell if you’re serious about this … I feel sure I would have heard if the Saint’s Row games were about superheroes …

        1. Chamomile says:

          Saints Row 1-3 are about gangsters, but as the series progresses you are less and less a normal gangster and more and more some kind of wacky Batman villain. Saints Row 4 finally gave the player actual superpowers, and is essentially a superhero game, particularly given that all pretensions of being about crime are basically gone.

  56. Dreadjaws says:

    From the looks of this article, and the one on The Escapist, it seems like you haven’t really played that many superhero games, Shamus.

    Hulk, for instance, has an excellent PS2 game called “Hulk: Ultimate Destruction”. It was one of the first open-world superhero games, and it was great. You could just smash everything (even buildings), punch back rockets, run upside buildings, super jump, turn vehicles into weapons, and you had a ginormous list of moves. Plus, the enemies ranged from the military to robots, mechs and other superpowered beings. There was later a game based on the Incredible Hulk movie, which was a severely watered-down version of this one (many less moves, less destruction options, less populated city and far more generic).

    Wolverine also had a pretty good game, based on his first solo film. The game was miles ahead of the movie in quality, and while it might have felt repetitive after a while (many of the bosses were rehashed), it actually made you feel like Wolverine, with fantastic, agile moves, a wonderful healing factor (you could actually see Wolvie regenerate his flesh) and, of course, it was violent and bloody, unlike the film.

    Spider-Man had also a bunch of very good games outside Spider-Man 2. Spider-Man 3 for the PS2 was different from the PS3/360/PC version (the black suit was actually quite different, it wasn’t a QTE fest and the camera wasn’t a mess). Ultimate Spider-Man was also pretty good, and it had appealing comic-style visuals. Then there are Web of Shadows (which, again, depends on the version, since this time they’re radically different. The PS2 one isn’t even open world) and Shattered Dimensions (which is not open-world but it’s still great).

    About Superman, I absolutely disagree. For some insane reason you don’t seem to be able to confine Superman to the rules of a videogame world: “And even if we do contrive some mooks for him to fight (say, space aliens) are they going to be interesting and varied enough to support a whole game?” You mean as opposed to the “interesting” mooks in other video games? Since when are mooks interesting? For as long as I’ve played videogames, mooks have been the least interesting kind of obstacle in gaming.

    “Who can keep him from just flying away (through walls, if he needs to) if a fight goes against him? Who can endure more than one punch from him?” Who can endure more than one shotgun blast to the face in real life? Yet in videogames, this happens quite a lot. I’m telling you, you’re being really unfair here. Stop thinking of Superman in movie/comic book terms and start thinking of him as a video game character. If developers did for Superman anything remotely similar to what Hulk: Ultimate Destruction did for Hulk, it could work wonders.

    1. Alex says:

      “If developers did for Superman anything remotely similar to what Hulk: Ultimate Destruction did for Hulk, it could work wonders.”

      If developers did for Superman anything remotely similar to what Hulk: Ultimate Destruction did for Hulk, he wouldn’t be Superman. On his most basic level the Hulk smashes, and that is something the player can appreciate. Superman doesn’t have that potential for catharsis.

      1. Dreadjaws says:

        I was referring to the freedom the game provides and the veritable list of enemies the main character fights, not just the smashing.

  57. Fawkes says:

    I’m a bit late to the conversation, but I feel with all the talk about Superman, Captain America, Hulk or Wolverine as a game, I’m disappointed that no one has really discussed Wonder Woman. Even Shamus sort of undersells her in the article.

    Wonder Woman is one of the better, if not outright the best, choice for a super-powered based brawler. She has no specific weaknesses, but she also isn’t seen as utterly invulnerable as Superman. She has strength almost on par but is never seen as ‘holding back’ that makes you wonder why she can’t just destroy the building and be done with it. She’s fast, but not so fast people expect her to just blitz down enemies. She’s basically Superman without the tacked on power-sets and overpoweredness that have turned him into a near God and made a video game with him difficult.

    No one would bat an eye at Wonder Woman taking damage from mooks, especially if they’re blessed by Ares or the like. No one would care if it takes a few hits to take them down. Wonder Woman is at that Sweet spot where a game could be made of her without having to work in kryptonite or some other mechanism.

    She also has a nice range of gadgets and weapons to play with. Unarmed, Swords, Spears, Bow & Arrow. The Lasso and the Bracers would also be fun mechanics, if the lasso can be worked out. Tiara too if you want! Her mythology is also large enough to add in a lot of variety. You basically have all of the Greek gods at the least, but also quite a few magical enemies as well. And though no one seems to care about them, she has some rather important friends and support cast to play with.

    There really are only a few characters that fit in that spot, and the few that do usually have powers beyond just the brawler, like Green Lantern or Martian Manhunter (Though another decent choice if you can figure out Psychic powers.). Her or Captain Marvel seem like the easy choices. And the fact both would be a female main character certainly doesn’t hurt. Though that would likely to scare off publishers, unfortunately.

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