While most Marvel-licensed fighting games are seen as great successes in the video game industry (mostly because they’re produced by Capcom — just take a look at the well-received “Marvel vs. Capcom” games, as well as their other crossovers), there are a select few that are best left forgotten. Among them is 2005’s release from Electronic Arts: “Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects,” a game released for various popular game platforms, including the PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube.
“Marvel Nemesis” was the first of what was supposed to be many projects from a collaboration between EA and Marvel, and they even went as far as publishing a six-issue comic book series with a story that supplemented events that happened in the game.
Unfortunately, the effort of the two companies didn’t amount to much, as “Marvel Nemesis” was raked across the coals by critics and players alike, resulting in lukewarm sales at best. Though the idea was decent enough — pitting various superheroes and villains from the Marvel Universe including Wolverine, Spider-Man, Magneto and Iron Man head-to-head against EA-created “Imperfect” comic book characters, oddities as The Wink, Niles Van Roekel and Brigade — gamers hated the game’s unbalanced fighting system, as it was clear that some characters had a far bigger advantage than others. On top of that, bad graphics and poor AI bugs plagued the release.
Shortly thereafter, EA and Marvel’s partnership fizzled, coming to an official close in 2008 without seeing the release of any further games. This wasn’t for a lack of trying it would appear, as earlier this week, Siliconera ran across newly released concept art and a short video for a follow-up that was never released, with only the occasional glimpse of it surfacing in various gaming media outlets over the years. By looking at the concept screens and video clip released by one of the EA Chicago artists involved with the Marvel project, we can glean a few details details about the potential sequel to “Nemesis.”
Judging from one concept screen, it appears that the game featured a Campaign mode, similar to the one featured in “Nemesis.” Even more intriguing is the mode sitting next to it, titled “What If?” which may have mixed things up significantly between the Marvel characters and the batch of Nemesis freaks, or even possibly presenting alternate realities based on the classic Marvel series of the same name.
In addition, a My Collection option appears on the main menu, presenting the possibility that characters and maybe even virtual comic books could be unlocked over the course of the campaign, for the player to root through in their own free time.
Two more screens illustrate the likelihood that the game would have stuck with the 3D combat of the original “Nemesis,” including the ability to run around freely on a stage while holding down a trigger to keep “locked on” to an enemy, so all attacks could be focused on him or her. Other offensive controls included the ability to mix up weak and strong strikes, as well as item interaction (possibly with items to pick up within the stage, such as crates or lamp posts to be used as projectiles) and running tackles.
One other notable feature in the gameplay is the addition of a Super Power Modifier, which would have probably taken advantage of each character’s ability. For instance, Spider-Man would have been able to use his webbing to some capacity, while Captain America could easily throw his shield to some degree, or maybe even use it in a super-charging attack. And who knows what kind of damage Hulk or Wolverine could have wreaked.
In addition to Captain America, Hulk and Spider-Man appearing in the screenshots and video, the lesser known US Agent also appears as a playable option, hinting at a potentially larger pool of characters to choose from than the original “Nemesis.” Indeed, the sole trailer for the game from 2007 showed Spidey facing off against Doctor Doom, while Cap went toe-to-toe with the Juggernaut.
Beyond the screens and video, a commenter on the Siliconera story claiming to have been an EA game tester who worked on this particular project bolsters our read on the screenshots. He describes the game as taking a “psuedo-sandbox” approach to the gameplay, featuring interactive, destructible environments, civilians running around as you battle other characters and and an open city to explore. This is further supported by another video from 2007 showing gameplay footage while the developers brag about “every square inch” of the environment being destructible, damage appearing on the characters and working hard to emulate look of Marvel’s comic book offerings.
Again, it’s all concept-stage art and footage, but you can see where EA Chicago was doing its best to improve upon “Nemesis.” It’s incredibly unlikely we’ll ever find out, however, leaving the fate of the Imperfects — whom Marvel owns the rights to as part of the original partnership deal — in limbo.