What makes a good comic book(or comic book movie) video game?

This can alternately be titled “Will the MCU ever have a good video game adaptation that isn’t a Lego game?”  because while it’s been on fire in the movie department(especially since Black Panther was released) the same cannot be said for the video game department. And yes they have had some success with titles such as Lego Avengers and Lego Superheroes 2 but that’s the thing: they’re Lego games. Lego game adaptation of movies have always been pretty fun and successful(look at the countless Lego movie games if you don’t believe me).  But they’re geared mainly towards a younger audience. What fans really want is a game that has a more serious tone, and can break the curse of movie games by being fun and actually doing the universe if not the movies themselves justice.

And this isn’t saying that Marvel as a whole haven’t released good games. In fact, they’ve had plenty of great games that are classics to gamers and comic book nerds alike; We have the X-men arcade game, Avengers Ultimate Alliance 1 & 2, X-men Legends 1 & 2, X-men Children of the Atom, and the Marvel vs. Capcom series(not including the recent Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite, which will be explained soon). The ones I listed were the big ones but the list can go on and on. But there are two things about all of these successful games I mentioned: 1) Most of these are X-men or X-men related games as pre-MCU the X-men were the big hits and 2) All of these games came out long before the MCU was thought of.  So what make, these games good? What can the MCU do to make classics like these games? Well in order to look at what they can do, we have to look not to the past but at their competitors, DC.

While the DCEU(DC Extended Universe) have been so-so in the movie department recently they’ve been kicking but in the gaming department and have been doing so for a while with titles such as the Batman: Arkham Asylum series and the Injustice series. But what made them great? There are a few reasons

  1. They do the characters justice: One of the great praises of the Batman: Arkham Asylum series was how the company who made them Rockstar studios, stayed true to the characters. In fact they took much of their inspiration from the beloved Batman: The Animated Series. The characters, especially Batman and the Joker feel themselves, if that makes sense. The universe in the game  is set in could’ve been an episode from the cartoons or even be an arc current Batman comic universe. The same could be said for the Injustice series as well, especially since the story takes place in a universe where Superman snaps and becomes a dictator after a tragedy, the characters feel like themselves as well and the universe has become its own successful comic book series.
  2. It’s not strictly based on the movies: Perhaps the biggest issue with movie game is that they try too hard to stick to the movie’s plot/universe, to the point that it stifles creativity. This also includes willingly allowing issues within the companies to influence the game. This was one of the biggest issues with Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite as movie rights issues between Disney and FOX prevented the X-men(who were mainstays to the series) from being apart of the roster, which was one of the biggest issues with the game. Quick side note, if issues in the companies forces the game to change then that’s fine as the studio in charge usually have very little control in those situations, however as stated before, it it’s a willing influence then that’s a problem. Anyway, it’s also possible to go on the other end and not put any effort in to the game at all. Over all there needs to be a balance between respecting the universe but allowing enough room for creativity . So I think the best way to go about it is to have the game not be based off any sole movie but take place within the universe
  3. The gameplay should be, no must be superb(or at least good): Long story short, gameplay can make or break a game. It’s one of the biggest issue with movie games; they have repetitive, boring and/or uninspired gameplay that makes it tedious to play. In terms of gameplay for comic book games it should aim for two things: It should allow you to be immersed in its world and be allow you to feel like you’re playing as your favorite character. This is what the Arkham games do so well, they allow you to feel like you’re Batman while you’re playing the game. If it’s a game that allows you to create a character that allows you to be a hero/villain as in the case of DC Universe Online, it should make you feel like that hero/villain. The other thing is that above all else, the gameplay should be fun Fun gameplay is innovative, thoughtful and engages the player. If the gameplay is fun enough it can save a otherwise lackluster game from doom…granted the other issues it has don’t overshadow that fun gameplay(again, look at Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite) Another side note, difficulty is an important aspect of gameplay and regardless of where you stand on the easy mode vs hard mode debate, there should be a balance. The gameplay should be easy enough for new or inexperienced players can get into it but difficult enough that more experience players can get a challenge out of it. It should also allow the player(s) to adjust that difficulty to suit their experiences and the best example of this done well is Injustice 2. 
  4. Have good business practices: Along with gameplay, this can make or break a game as well. Again going back to Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, the other biggest issue was that it had shady business practices involvng Downloadable Content (DLC), and the character roster. This isn’t the only game with this problem but in terms of Marvel games it’s one the noticeable  example.  The game should be a complete game; this means having all of the desired/necessary characters and fun, robust gameplay. There should be nothing missing from the game that is vital to enjoying that game or have problems that should’ve been addressed before it’s release. DLC should be there to enhance the game not fix the game’s problems. As long as the DLC does that and is reasonably priced to what’s being offered, everything should be okay.

Overall there are ways to make MCU games. If Disney/Marvel are willing learn from their completion and do the things I listed here, then there’s a good chance that a good MCU game that can appeal to an older audience can be made.

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