With Square Enix presenting gameplay of the new Avengers game at E3 2019 and with the release of Sony’s Spider-Man on PS4 last year it is fair to say we may be heading into a new golden age of Superhero games on consoles. It’s exciting to think that we may soon have titles that continuously blow us away much like Batman Arkham Asylum did way back in 2009. Now this Marvel’s Avengers announcement has me excited but also slightly apprehensive as I’m sure Square Enix know there is a lot riding on this to be successful much like Spider-Man.
While watching the videos that were released of the new title, I began thinking about Superhero games that I had enjoyed over the last 10 years since Arkham Asylum’s release. I remembered there were a number of them that surprised me with how good they actually were and after looking online and speaking to friends discovered they had little fanfare, or people simply wrote them off for being movie tie-ins despite some being reviewed well.
I wanted to speak to you all about just a handful of these titles so that they may get some of the recognition they deserve, but also so you can enjoy some hidden gems of the genre. In a time where a number of these games are being removed from digital storefronts due to licence issues or companies being disbanded it’s important now more than ever to try and get your hands on them before the only copies left are physical used editions going for near enough as much as they were worth at launch. So in no particular order, let’s begin with 5 underrated Superhero games you may just have missed.
The Amazing Spider-Man (Xbox 360)
It’s always been hard for Spider-Man games after the success of the tie-in for Spider-Man 2 on the original Xbox (which is still great to this day!). It always seemed like follow ups such as Spider-Man 3 or Web of Shadows could still be fun but wouldn’t be able to quite get the swinging mechanics just right. They just couldn’t be the quintessential Spider-Man game like 2 was.
I had felt that way too and before I got around to playing Sony’s amazing effort I felt like going back and trying some of the titles that I had missed along the way which brought me to The Amazing Spider-Man on Xbox 360. I actually enjoyed this movie (although the sequel is another story) and did think that perhaps this game would struggle if it only followed the movie plot as the title would lead you to believe.
The strange thing is, it doesn’t follow the movie. It takes place after that movie and totally does its own thing, so much so that when the sequel came out it had to be a separate canon to the movie universe. This is an example of doing a tie-in right; it doesn’t have to literally be a game of the movie but use aspects of it to do something original. In this game you still come across villains from the comics like Rhino or Scorpion, but they are animal human hybrid experiments like the Lizard was in the film.
You even fight huge Avengers level threats in the city all by yourself, like giant robots. It’s goofy don’t get me wrong but sometimes that’s what a comic book property should be; just a lot of goofy or cheesy fun. There is plenty to do in the game like side missions, challenges and more but I really think they nailed the swinging and ‘tricks’ mechanics for the time. I would find myself just turning It on to swing about.
While you can only get The Amazing Spider-Man physically due to licencing issues, I would highly suggest giving it a go if you have the time. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Telltale’s Guardians of the Galaxy (Xbox One)
While the likes of Telltale’s The Walking Dead has always been pretty popular it’s fair to say the other offerings they presented – such as The Wolf Among Us, Tales from the Borderlands and their Batman series – have not been as well received or even as well known. Now most Telltale games follow the same ‘gameplay’ and that’s fine. And Guardians of the Galaxy is no different in that respect, it’s a visual novel and a point and click adventure game through and through, but that does not mean it’s not worth your time.
Originally many believed this would follow the MCU storyline and be set between Guardians Vol.1 and Vol.2. However, it follows a standalone story that takes a lot from the MCU in terms of the team roster and the way the characters act or interact, but does enough to differentiate itself.
I found this game to have really well-done action sequences for a Telltale game and it really did an amazing job at the characterisation of the roster. There are times you feel sad, laugh or generally hate another part of the team due to your own choices. It’s difficult for me to describe much more without spoiling the plot but go ahead and try it out for yourself!
Please note as with most Telltale games they are being removed from digital stores very soon, if you’re at all interested in this or any others the first episodes on Xbox are generally always free so give it a shot and if you like it either find a cheap physical copy or buy digitally sooner rather than later.
X-men Origins: Wolverine (Xbox 360)
This Wolverine game is an interesting one as I’d argue it’s much better than the movie it’s meant to be a tie-in to. Now it takes a fair bit from the movie but also has a hell of a lot of stages and locations the movies either never went to or only briefly touched upon. Does that make the story in X-men Origins: Wolverine worth paying attention to? No, not really.
But is this one of those games you can just turn your brain off to and enjoy as a relatively short and mindless, violent action game? YES. To this day I feel like this is one of the best examples of a movie tie-in and I really hope that someday we get another Wolverine game that has similar gameplay.
The developers really put a lot into this title that others doing tie-in games would maybe not be so bothered to do. There is a whole healing factor system as you would expect for Wolverine, but the best part of it is that you can see the damage right down to the bone on the character model and see it heal back up again. Another great part is that Hugh Jackman actually voiced the character and has some decent line delivery; he helps sell the idea that at this point in the timeline Wolverine is just a killing machine.
And perhaps the best part of the game is that you can unlock the classic yellow spandex suit and see it rip and tear through enemies just as you’d always imagined. Seriously if you see this in the used section of a store then please pick it up.
Batman Arkham Origins Blackgate: Deluxe Edition (Xbox 360)
While the Arkham series is perhaps the best example of a popular comic book videogame series it does have a hidden gem within it. Around the time Arkham Origins was released for consoles a companion title, Arkham Origins Blackgate, was released for handhelds. I had always heard about it but never played my handhelds enough at the time to warrant purchasing it. However not long after the title was released as the Deluxe Edition on consoles and included more levels, enemies and unlockable outfits.
When I saw this go up on Xbox Live I purchased it right away, not really knowing what I was in for. What I got was a brilliant Metroidvania style game featuring Batman that was set right after Origins and not only presented a decent story, but a decent sized game which was a great example of translating the features of the mainline games to the 2.5D space.
Everything you’re familiar with in the mainline games is there – the freeflow combat, the side missions and the heavy use of Batman’s equipment. The boss fights, much like others in the series also come across as rather unique by focusing on the specific mechanics of what each boss has rather than them just being a ‘strong guy’ and having you use specific equipment to find your way around the battle.
While you could say a lot of this about the mains series I think a lot of people wrote Blackgate off for being a handheld and 2.5D game. But If you’re a fan of the Arkham games and have been wanting to scratch that itch since Arkham Knight then you should really consider this title.
Injustice: Gods Among Us (Xbox 360)
Injustice is a little bit of a cheat for this list but hear me out. While it’s a relatively popular game within fighting circles (as is the sequel) it isn’t that well known outside of that circle or even by a lot of comic book fans. Many write it off as ‘just a fighting game’ but I want you to know there are a few reasons why I’d class this as underrated.
The first is in regards the story. The narrative in both this and the sequel are absolutely fantastic and rather refreshing for the genre. Without spoiling too much for those that wish to get into it imagine a world where Superman totally snaps and becomes almost Dictator-like in establishing a New World Order. Due to this there are those that follow his almost Lawful Evil and those that split off such as Batman in order to stop him. What’s interesting is it plays with a lot of the dynamics of established characters by having Heroes and Villains on each side teaming up for what they believe in.
My second reason is it was so popular it spun off its own comic series which is still going today, set before, during and between the games. I would highly recommend if you are looking to get into reading comic books to give those a read between playing the games.
Lastly, I want to praise Injustice for doing what a lot of fighting games tend to forget to do these days, focusing equally on its single player and multiplayer content. As mentioned, the story mode is fantastic but so was the multiplayer. Now obviously the MP may be a little dead today because everyone will have moved on to the sequel (which will also be worth your time), but if you’re looking for a cheap used game with a decent story and a great MP to play locally with friends then this is for you.
So there we have it, a rather lovely looking list of 5 of the most underrated Superhero games that you may well have missed. Do you agree with this list? Have we missed any out? Let us know what you think by posting in the comments below.
What about Batman Arkham Origins, it doesn’t deserve to be forgotten.