Tag: Marvel

retro gaming ads | early marvel

Early video game ads didn’t have the hot-shot graphics that we have today. Advertising for these games was nothing short of a marketing swindle with artwork that really had nothing to do with the game in question. None more-so-than early Marvel titles for the Atari, Gameboy and NES. Making use of some of the hottest comic talents around these ads steered the young consumer hearts straight to the stores; but when we got home that cover art was no where to be found in-game.
Even still, some the artwork produced for these games was fantastic; others are close to laughable. Take a gander of some of these early Marvel video game print ads from various comic books of the time. Presenting the return of the Retro Gaming Ads…


1982 | Spider-Man for Atari 2600
1985 | Marvel Adventures featuring The Incredible Hulk on PC Rom
1990 | Silver Surfer for NES
1990 | Silver Surfer for NES, high score contest
1990 | X-Men for NES
1991 | The Punisher for NES
1991 | The Punisher for Nintendo Gameboy
1992 | Spider-Man Arcade’s Revenge for NES
1993 | Captain America and the Avengers for Sega Genesis & sNES
1994 | The Incredible Hulk for sNES
1995 | Marvel Super Heroes War of the Gems for sNES
1997 | Marvel Super Heroes for PS1 & Sega Saturn
2000 | Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 for Dreamcast
Got a favorite I missed here? Let me know.

spider-man shattered dimensions

PLATFORM: PS3
RELEASE DATE: 9/2010
DEVELOPER: Beenox
PUBLISHER: Activision
ESRB RATING: T for Teen
Progress: Finished

I am a huge comic book fan, have been for as long as I can remember; so it stands to reason that I would be attracted to superhero video games. This genre has a pretty ugly track record. Most superhero games are created to supplement a major motion picture and, as every gamer should know, that does not make for a good game. With the advent of the latest generation of systems superhero games have greatly improved with a few standout performances. Spider-man Shattered Dimensions, the latest in the Spider-man franchise of games, takes the often formulaic game play and adds some new twists and turns.

It’s called Shattered Dimensions because the story crosses over time and different universes to feature Spider-man in all his different incarnations working together. There is, of course, your Amazing Spider-man which features graphics that are “animated looking” with clear outlines and bright colors. The levels played as the Amazing Spidey are mostly acrobatic. Spider-man Noir is a look at Spidey in the past. The Noir levels are colorless and very dark and moody. These levels focus on stealth game play. Spider-man 2099 has flying action with some grand descents that you must navigate through. As you may have guessed it takes place in the future – the year 2099. The future levels are very metallic and shinny. The final Spidey is the Ultimate Spider-man which takes place in a separate Marvel U. called the Ultimate Universe. Ultimate Spidey (in this story) is still wearing the “black suit” which is actually an alien symbiote (long story) these levels focus on fighting and “rage” mode.

Lets start with the good. The controls stay fairly consistent depending on which Spider-man you are controlling with an additional specialty for each one. Fighting is great with an expanding arsenal of moves at your disposal. Swinging and aerial maneuvers are easy and fun to pull off. At any time you can hold down a button and dodge virtually anything with Matrix-quick reflexes just like Spidey would. Swinging, using your web shooters, is a blast. Even the over arching story with the four different points of view is interesting.
SPIDER-MAN NOIR

The problem is the quality of everything is is spotty. This game has some of the best cut scenes as well as some of the worst I have ever seen. While a few key plot movies are animated in amazing CG others come off as unfinished with highly rendered images that completely lack animation. We are talking panning arms up and down and twirling eyes, people.
The levels and game play are repetitious and get tired fast. You enter each level, fight some minions, then the level boss, he escapes and you chase, you save some people then have another boss fight–every level. I’m all for being a hero and saving the people but half way through I started to just hate those same helpless people. The boss fights are memorable but often too easy and predictable. Fighting the level boss features a twist on the popular “quick time event” action. After some quick button pushing you engage the boss in a neat Punch-Out style, fisticuffs action.
SPIDER-MAN 2099

The story arc is told in three acts but largely fails with not enough substance to warrant the repetitive levels. A nice addition is some non-villain characters: Deadpool and Silver Sable. Although in true comic fashion they have to fight before getting along.
Shatter Dimensions is good for completion-ists and trophy hunters. You are encouraged to play each level on all three different difficulty settings each with their own unlockable bonuses. Unlockables are additional costumes from other famous spider stories and preliminary art. Replaying levels also gives you a better chance of unlocking your “web of destiny” achievements. With each achievement unlocked you are awarded points which you can then in turn use to buy more fighting moves. The more difficult levels require some of these more powerful unlockable attack moves.
I did enjoy Spider-man Shatter Dimensions, especially the final battle. It was a satisfying “all you have learned” romp that will have you shaking your controller then basking in glory. However, just like my relationship with the printed version of Spider-man, we have had our good times but I’ve had to pass it up from time to time. I’m glad I picked up Shattered Dimensions but I wouldn’t fully recommend it.
C+
There are more Spider-man games than hand washing on the Food Network.

BONUS: The following codes can be entered at the Main Menu after completing the tutorial:
Iron Spider Suit – up, right, right, right, left, left, left, down, up
Scarlet Spider Suit – right, up, left, right, up, left, right, up, left, right
Negative Zone Suit – left, right, right, down, right, down, up, left
There is a Mangaverse Suit code too but I haven’t been able to make it work.

marvel super hero squad (psp)

PLATFORM: PSP
RELEASE DATE: 10/2009
DEVELOPER: Blue Tongue
PUBLISHER: THQ
ESRB RATING: E10+
Progress: 100%
Welcome to the junior version of Marvel Ulitmate Alliance (MUA): Marvel Super Hero Squad (MSHS). I fell in love with these inexpensive, smurf size plastic toys when they first hit the shelves and collected a few of my beloved X-Men. Soon after an animated TV show depicting these bite-sized versions of the heroes hit networks, a video game was launched soon after. Aimed at younger viewers, these family friendly heroes are ready to put up their dukes in the name of the Avengers (err… I mean squad).
I’ve been gaming on my commute to and from work all week; add in a few extra hours here and there and I was able to complete MSHS. It was fun watching people lean over me on the train trying to figure out what I was playing. I could hear them thinking “I see Iron man but I don’t know what game that is.” I scream, but only in my head, “cause it’s a kids game!” I must say, it made the time fly by and was a lot of fun to play. I only got stumped in a couple of places but I don’t believe it was my fault (read on).

Wonky cameras can ruin a game. Especially when that game is played on a tiny portable screen. Unfortunately, MSHS has this issue. The camera does its best to focus behind the character. However, the characters are constantly twisting and turning to fight off various villains. This brawler can be fun but also very frustrating to play. What little platforming elements it does have, are ruined by inadequate jumps and camera obscura. Some key points in the game can flicker in and out of visibility which is unfortunate but smart players will easily overcome them. Its kind of sad but the game’s greatest villain is the camera itself.

The actual brawling in this game is fun. Instead of defining it as “Hack & Slash” it is more like “Bam & Pow” for the kids. You can’t really die; you just come right back. Not that you would know (cause it doesn’t say anywhere in game) but you can use various well known “Street Fighter” button combos to vary your fighting skills; so experiment away, it will only help. Speaking of help, you have a buddy in game that will knock out some of the baddies for you (“Hero-up!”). Button mash your way through the AIM (Advanced Idea Mechanics) villains, the Mole Man’s hench men and Doombots to collect the missing fragments of the “Infinity Sword”.

Levels are fairly well designed. The art styles seem to shift between 2D animation style stills (like the show) to animated in game sequences and finally to fully rendered CG cut scenes. The fully rendered CG cut scenes look good even though the animation is really just panning back and forth. I prefer the 2D style character art myself, it fits the game’s lighthearted tone better.

Characters with flying skills and projectile weapons seem to be the most fun to use. There are some fun action sequences (quick-time events) that require you to push the right button sequence, when prompted, to get ahead in the game. Later in the game flying becomes crucial to advance, so it’s best to get good at it right away. All in all I think MUA could learn a thing or two from its younger sibling.

C+
Brawlers are good for annoying commutes

marvel ultimate alliance 2

PLATFORM: PS3
RELEASE DATE: 9/2009
PUBLISHER: ACTIVISION
ESRB RATING: T
Progress: 80% at time of posting

Building off of previous great brawler games: X-Men Legends 1 & 2 and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 1, developer Vicarious Visions, released Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 (MUA2) in mid 2009. The premise for the story, which involves all the mainstay heroes from the Marvel Universe, is 2009’s Civil War story line. Civil War is a fan favorite mini series that pits hero against hero against villains over a new government ruling that all super heroes need to be registered or considered terrorists. It’s an exciting tale that parallels modern society in some ways. You can play through two campaigns of the Civil War story line as either pro-registration or anti-registration; both giving you access to certain characters and different battles.

MUA2 is a top down perspective brawler at it’s finest. The menu design is very nice and is based off the Civil War comic’s design. This look is both straight forward menu design and bit more serious in tempo. A lot of the characters are represented by silhouettes in the menu which is nice and matches the design but I personally would rather see more character art. The cut scenes look great and are a good reward from battling between levels. The character rooster features: Wolverine, Spidey, Cap, Hulk, Thing, Thor, Iron Man and lots more.


The controls are an assortment of button mashing combined with luck and not too much precision. Though you can pull out some serious moves on villains you do so while constantly monitoring health bars and stamina meters. Characters can combine their super powers in a new Fusion Power mode; the effects of which can be devastating to the enemy. I found I used the Fusion Powers whenever I would get overwhelmed and must say they actually make the game a little too easy. Replay value of MUA2 is fairly high; you can collect different costumes (1 each per character), play trivia and the mission simulator modes in addition to playing through both the pro-registration and anti-registration campaigns.


The video game veers from the comic about half way through. Changing the story seemed like a strange move but it seems to work ok except for the final boss, which makes no sense at all if you are a long time Marvel fan. I was really excited about this game when it first came out, day one purchase for me. I played through it in less than a week. Even with two full campaign modes the game is incredibly short.  If you are just slightly interested in the subject material I recommend a rent or borrow situation. As a long time Marvel fan I come back to this game often. I find MUA2 to be a great game when you have a house full of friends they can all join in in four player co-op. Co-op is handled in a drop in drop out fashion which is great for just mildly interested friends.


On Dec 31, 2009 all of the online download content disappeared, including the patches that allow you to play the DLC with others online. There were additional characters such as Cable, Carnage and Psylocke available. Internet rumors point to the franchise was taken away from Vicarious Visions with little to no information available as to why. Coincidently this was all around the same time Disney bought Marvel. It’s too bad really I was hoping to pick up those extra characters had they gone on sale.

B-
Fun while it lasted

punisher: no mercy

PLATFORM: PS3 
RELEASE DATE: JULY 2009
PUBLISHER: ZEN STUDIOS
ESRB RATING: M
Progress: 80% at time of posting
A PlayStation Network-exclusive, Punisher-themed, first-person shooter sounded like such a great idea. I could easily pass for a Punisher fan boy. I’ve seen all three movies. Used to love Jim Lee’s work on War Journal in the 90’s but stopped just short of buying a skull shirt. This was an impulse purchase for me and I paid the price. The following is less of a review and more of a warning to interested gamers.

When you first fire up P:NM it opens with a scene of the New York skyline at night, camera panning across a large ship in the river, Mercy written down it’s side. Too quickly you learn this was the best animation in the game and it was just a company logo before the game loads. The actual game cut sequences consist of still comic art panels, most likely the first “motion comic” ever made. Sadly out of all the great Marvel content available for the Punisher the illustration comes off weak with very little to no character detail. When you do see a nice panel of our hero, his face is usually blacked out as if in shadow or covered by a gun.

There is little to no difference between the multiplayer and story modes of this game. In short, there never should have been a story mode. This could have released the developers to focus solely on a fun Marvel shooter, unfortunately this wasn’t the case. P:NM runs on the Unreal engine so the “game mechanics” are familiar right away they just aren’t very good. Basically, you run around trying to collect items and upgrade your weapon before you get picked off. You will die a lot in this game.

The aforementioned story mode is incredible short. Most PSN trophies are awarded through online multiplayer matches. There are pretty slim pickings for multiplayer matches out there; if there is even anyone out there still playing it. You can unlock and play as different Punisher related characters but there really is no difference in the game play. These characters background and relationship to the Punisher are never explained within the game and impossible to draw, even for a fan, from the cut scenes. There are some random Marvel factoids on the many loading screens.

This was my first and biggest disappointment from the PSN.  I wouldn’t download this game again if it was free with a download sponsored by Smith & Wesson. Hopefully, this review will save someone 10 bucks. There are so many other great shooters out there but Punisher: No Mercy is a complete waste.

F
No mercy, indeed.

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