10 Comic Book Video Games That Were Actually Good

Posted on by Thorin Klosowski (thorink)
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Video games and comic books haven't got along well in the past. Perhaps because video games and franchises in general are nearly always quickly produced cash-ins, the two have butted heads ever since the first Superman game hit the Atari. With the Thor movie and its terrible tie-in games recently debuting, it seemed like a good time to praise the few that got it right. Thankfully, several amazing games have risen up and gone the extra mile to create an experience that's worthwhile despite the challenges.

10. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Arcade



While this one is clearly floating on the nostalgia boat and would probably be burned alive if it wasn't for that, the nostalgic factor is strong enough to keep it alive here -- unlike its X-Men counterpart. The game was a beat-em-up; nothing new, but it made great use of the license at hand and enabled kids to play as characters they'd grown to love in a setting that looked as if it was pulled straight out of the cartoons. Sure, it had little to do with the black and white, bloody as all hell comic book, but in regards to its clear love of the source material, it did a fine job of emulating what people actually wanted.

9. Shadow Man



Somewhat surprisingly, Shadow Man wasn't just a great take on a comic; it was also one of the first games to get camera controls right on a third-person shooter. Based on the Valiant Comics title written by Jim Shooter and Steve Englehart, the comic followed the lineage of four different characters with the title "Shadow Man," but the game follows just one, Michael LeRoi, a former English-lit student who gets turned into a voodoo warrior.

While much of the gameplay was a riff on The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, it substituted Zelda's sword for duel-wielding magic guns, which, in all honesty, is infinitely more cool. It also happens to be one of very few N64-era games that tackled non-linearity in a way that actually made sense, a feat that few others were able to achieve.

8. XIII



On paper, XIII shouldn't have worked. It's chalk-full of star power (the voice cast includes Adam West, Eve, and David Duchovny), it's also a cell-shaded, first-person shooter, and it's based on a Beligian comic book. If history is any indication, this should have been a complete flop, but somehow the game got enough right to make it an enjoyable experience.

While the gameplay was short, slightly flawed, and somewhat repetitive, the visual-style, sound design, and story were enough to keep it from falling apart at the seams. It's too bad it didn't nail the actual game portion, because it could have been on the top-tier of all games had it tried a little harder.

7. Ultimate Spider-Man



Ultimate Spider-Man is not the best Spider-Man game, but it's the best based solely on the comic book and not the movies. As is the trend with many on this list, Ultimate Spider-Man is a sight to behold; the cell-shaded art style makes it look and feel just like the comics. The story, although certainly steeped in Spider-Man-y-ridiculousness, is well-thought out and enjoyable.

Unfortunately, the game is kind of repetitive, but swinging around the city is enough fun that you won't worry much about the combat. There is a bonus for players who unlock Venom too, as you'll be able to get all Grand Theft Auto on it and run around destroying the city while cops, S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, and helicopters chase after you. Actually, that might some of the most fun in any video game, ever.

6. Alien Versus Predator (PC)



While the game is based on the comics only in name, that doesn't make this terrific game any less amazing. Sure, it's all based on some weird brainstorming session that inexplicably ended with Dark Horse Comics deciding to merge two completely different franchises, but somehow, Rebellion Developments managed to make a great game out of it.

Featuring three different campaigns, players could run through the story as a marine, alien, or Predator, each with completely different gameplay mechanics. While the campaign was enough to startle you a little and kill a few hours, the real appeal was the three-class multiplayer that pitted each of the three races against each other. It wasn't balanced at all, but it was a hell of a lot of fun.

5. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game



Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game knew exactly where it was coming from and who it was supposed to appeal to. Unlike most comic book or franchise games, it didn't try the catch-all approach to make everyone happy. Instead, Ubisoft Montreal decided to make a game inspired by 16-bit beat-em-ups, added some light-RPG elements, tapped Anamanaguchi to deliver the score, and ended up delivering the perfect fan-service for fans of the comics and the movie alike.

Unlike most side-scrolling beat-em-ups, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game fought off the repetitious nature of other games in the genre by implementing a system that allowed you to unlock different combos and moves over time. It was enough to keep it interesting, even if the difficulty was absurdly high.

4. The Darkness



The Darkness may very well be the only game where you can sit down (in-game) and watch To Kill a Mockingbird in its entirety. Oh, it was also a first-person shooter where you had snakes on your shoulders that helped you beat the crap out of people.

Because of the nature of the game (and the title), which required you to stay in the dark as much as possible, The Darkness is inherently a stealthy experience. That said, it's incredibly violent, somewhat disgusting, and at one point tasks you with killing a bunch of demon-Nazis in Hell. The game ends up being relatively repetitive, but its still manages to be entertaining and, like many others on this list, does tell its story well.

3. X-Men Legends



X-Men Legends is one of very few examples of comic book games that combine nerd-fodder with a solid game. The huge cast of characters, surprisingly fun gameplay, and wealth of unlockable fan-service is enough to make it a solid game regardless of the franchise in tow.

But what Legends got the most right was the four-player co-op, a feature that helped titles like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Arcade and X-Men: Arcade rise above single player experiences to tap into what's most fun about living: other people. The Diablo-style hacking and slashing was a bit derivative, but it did it all in a way that had never been seen on consoles. While the spin-off, Ultimate Alliance, was the logical next step for the games, Legends did it first.

2. Sam and Max Hit the Road



Back in ye' olden times of PC-adventure gaming, humor in games was as easy to come by as shooting people is now. Still, it was difficult to get it right. Sam and Max Hit the Road was based on the similarly titled comics by Steve Purcell, and when LucasArts decided to take it on as an adventure game, they made the very wise decision of bringing Purcell with it.

The game was difficult in the way most adventure games were difficult, where you were tasked with solving puzzles using pieces of the environment in ways that would make even the most lateral-minded among us confused and angry. Regardless of the occasional hiccup caused by oblique puzzles, the game featured a lovely look and stellar animation. Most importantly though, it was funny -- truly, honestly, earnestly, funny.

1. Batman: Arkham Asylum



Nobody thought Batman: Arkham Asylum was going to be any good. Nobody. Yet somehow, as trailers began to surface people started to get excited. Then when the game came out, that excitement burst wide open. This was the Batman game that people have been asking for. Hell, this was the franchise game people had been asking for. Batman: Arkham Asylum worked because it was a solid game first, a Batman game second.

Graphically it looked great, the voice acting was terrific, the story was -- well, the story was good enough for a video game -- but the gameplay, the place where so many of the above entries faltered, was fantastic. It didn't seem like it was going to be, either -- one button for combat didn't seem too appealing until you actually used it. Stealthily sneaking about a prison? That doesn't seem like a great time until you do it with Batman's utility belt on your waist. Everything combined together to create a fantastic franchise game.

Which game are you more pissed about not making the list?

23322 views & 16 votes

Debate It! 2

I wasted so much money on X-men:Arcade.

Posted By lockheed40,

me too. i remember i used to be in the arcade when i was a kid and i use Rogue as my character a lot.

Posted By dylancayleb,

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