Yes. We’re talking about video games. It’s been a long time coming!
Recently, Kabam games generated a lot of headlines by releasing a mobile app game called Marvel: Contest Of Champions. Basically, it’s a collectible superhero game not unlike the Injustice: Gods Among Us app, but instead of adopting an RPG or card-playing format, it turns the collectible concept into the foundation for a traditional fighter. The premise, for any fan of the Marvel comics (or the modern Marvel cinematic universe), is solid gold: The Collector is manipulating heroes good and bad to fight against one another, and in assuming the role of “Summoner,” you get to assemble a team of heroes to fight against characters controlled by the evil Kang.
But what makes the game so enjoyable is not its premise, or even its gameplay as it sort of looks like a Mortal Kombat game with different characters. In fact, a review in Kotaku even criticized the game somewhat sharply, mostly for lacking any kind of personality in its characters. That criticism is somewhat justified, but if the game is slightly weak in its portrayal of comic personalities, it makes up for this issue in a big way with the raw depth of its cast. This is a game that will surprise a lot of comic fans with some of the names that are included alongside more popular characters from recent films.
Interestingly, the idea of including a number of popular heroes within a single game is one that has served the comic gaming industry well, which is perhaps something that the developers at Kabam took into account. Generally speaking, the most well-known comic superhero video games have been those that are released alongside the films. Although most of these have failed to reach any kind of noteworthy status or prestige, most of the modern Marvel films do have accompanying game releases. But they’re limited in nature, often focusing only on a version of the movie’s story without elaborating on comic background, additional characters, or inventive collaborations.
Check out this trailer for the game to see what it’s all about:
For those interested, here are a few other comic hero games you may not know about that take advantage of multiple characters and collaborations!
This is an extremely popular game, but if you’re not involved with the MMORPG culture online, you may not know much about it. Developed by Gazillion Entertainment, it’s essentially the leading superhero MMORPG. You can gather playable characters (more than 100 heroes and villains from Marvel comic history), upgrade them, and battle other users to your heart’s content, making this really the most immersive superhero video game out there.
Oddly enough, with all the publicity for the past decade and-a-half’s worth of X-Men films, the best games to come out of this branch of the Marvel universe seem to be solely focused on Wolverine. The X-Men slots game hosted at the Betfair platform is one exception. Mind you, it’s a very different sort of game, primarily a slot machine rather than an arcade- or fighter-style experience. But nevertheless, in using character images as slot slides and X-Men themed backgrounds, it succeeds where so many other hero games fail: it includes the intrigue of a full cast of characters, rather than propping up one.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes
This is also a different sort of game, but one that thrives in the same way as all the others on this list: through the inclusion of a broad range of characters in their (much beloved) LEGO form. For those who haven’t tried LEGO’s video games, they’re actually quite fun, basically serving as somewhat-tame but amusing versions of action/adventure video games. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is a wonderfully inventive console game with an equally impressive app version that basically lets you take control of any number of favourite superheroes on various quests and adventures.
Injustice: Gods Among Us
Outside of Marvel’s stable of great entertainment is another fighter style game that is definitely worth mentioning. We’ll have to cross universes to get to an offering from DC that is making waves, Injustice: Gods Among Us, the console version, is a rare treat. Basically, it’s a bold and beautiful console fighter game that uses a variety of DC characters, with everyone from Batman, to The Joker, to Solomon Grundy (and dozens of others) being playable.
All of these games benefit from recognising the scope of Marvel’s history and comic material. But despite a few legitimate criticisms, the new Marvel: Contest Of Champions release may just be the best of the bunch.