Just because a game is based on a comic book doesn’t automatically guarantee it’ll be a success. You need a devoted development team that understands the tone and functionality of the characters, or else you have a bland product that shows more commercialism than creativity. We’ve seen far too many examples of this, and will see more in the years to come. Of that we can be almost certain.
But ten of these misfires truly stand out as the worst ever created. These games are so bad, you might just swear off video games altogether if you play them long enough. (We implore you, don’t do that.) Here now are the bottom of the barrel products we hope never to lay our hands on again, CBR’s list of the Ten Worst Comic Book Video Games. Just the thought of them make us sick to our stomachs. (Yep, that awful.)
10. The Incredible Hulk: The Pantheon Saga
(Eidos/PS One, Sega Saturn)
The Hulk is usually invulnerable to taking damage, as you’ve probably seen from the countless comics and Hollywood films. However, even he couldn’t shake off the stink from Eidos’ pitifully bad beat-em-up. In this game, the green hero fights his way through countless stages of enemies, which play out in a quasi 2-D/3-D layout. The first thing you’ll notice about this game are the dreadful graphics. The stage designs constantly shift as you move about, a sign of lazy programming.
What’s more, the gameplay is not only repetitive, but also unresponsive. Turning to face guys in combat is a chore, and the platforming is ridiculously bad. Case in point — during one stage, we had to cross a field of lava on moving platforms. But, with Hulk’s quirky movement, we couldn’t properly land on them, resulting in us falling in the lava. C’mon, you’re telling us with the Hulk’s girth, we can’t even manage to overcome moving platforms? It’s almost enough to make us want to Hulk smash the disc.
(Electronic Arts/PS2, GameCube, Xbox)
So many questions come up when it comes to the “Catwoman” franchise. First off, who in the hell green lit the movie — and made Sharon Stone the villainess, to boot? Secondly, what ad exec thought it would be a good idea for Electronic Arts to make a game based on it. First off, an idiot, and secondly, an idiot. Now that we’ve answered these questions, let’s address the game, which is garbage. You play the athletically able (and scantily clad) Catwoman as she swings around poles and flings her whip, all while intolerable dance music plays in the background.
Had “Catwoman” even had half the initiative of EA’s other Bat-licensed product, “Batman Begins,” it would have stood a better chance. Instead, it simply has no appeal, no entertainment, no reason to keep going. Not even voiceovers by Halle Berry could convince anyone this thing deserved nine lives. Luckily, the lovely feline will soon be justified with her forthcoming appearance in “Batman: Arkham City.” That’s sure to make us feel better than this crap ever will.
8. Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects
(Electronic Arts/PS2, GameCube, Xbox)
Unless you really know what you’re doing, implementing an original idea with an existing comic book franchise is a risky move. Not only could you offend the long-time fans that have been reading the material, but you’re also likely to turn off casual fans just starting to get into the actual books. Case in point — “Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects” had a pretty good idea, but the execution was so bland, it went nowhere fast.
The game features familiar characters from the Marvel universe, including Spider-Man and Wolverine, as they battle newly created superheroes in 3-D stages. Again, an interesting idea, and had Capcom or a better branded fighting developer made it, it would’ve fared better. Instead, EA cluttered the project with terrible gameplay and poor visuals. If it’s reliable hero fighting you’re after, skip this mess and stick with the “Marvel Vs. Capcom” franchise instead. Both two and three come highly recommended — and feature characters outside of the comic book lexicon that we could give a damn about.
7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
When the first “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” game came out for the Nintendo Entertainment System, kids flocked to it, mainly because they could play as their favorite half-shelled superheroes while fighting the evil Shredder. However, only about a few minutes in, they — along with several of us — found out that they’d been hoodwinked. Rather than getting a playable adventure along the same lines as Konami’s arcade game, they ended up with something along the lines of a “cowabungle,” if you will.
The gameplay is beyond hideous, with poor jumping controls (you can’t even cross small gaps properly) and bad combat techniques. Worse yet, the challenge is set way too high, especially in the game’s swimming stage, where you could easily be done in by killer seaweed. Yes, apparently underwater plant life can be a ninja’s downfall. But perhaps the biggest insult is the graphics. The turtles themselves look hideous, and the game flickers so much that you might think something is wrong with your television. The only thing that manages to escape from this game unscathed is the awesome music — but there are better things to spend your money on — like the arcade game.
6. Hellboy: Asylum Seeker
When we hear the word Hellboy, we usually think of one of two things. Either we imagine the stone-faced hero from Mike Mignola’s trailblazing comic book series, or Guillermo del Toro’s awesome cinematic recreation, fueled by a solid performance by Ron Perlman. What we don’t think of, however, is a lame, half-assed hero who doesn’t even use his granite fist to deliver some major damage. But that’s exactly who you get in “Hellboy: Asylum Seeker,” Dreamcatcher’s abysmal comic book adaptation.
Here’s the game in a nutshell. You wander around hellish settings, encountering room after room of enemies, and you need to punch them to death in order to continue. That’s right, Hellboy doesn’t possess any spectacular abilities at first, just the ability to use his bad hand to smack poorly animated creatures into oblivion. And by the time you do gain access to something cool, you’ve lost interest in the game entirely. Hellboy fared a little better in the PS3/Xbox 360 outing “Science of Evil,” but really, the best place to see him is at the movies. He’d give one mean glance to the video games bearing his resemblance and blast them to bits.
5. Marvel’s Uncanny X-Men
Just like the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” game before it, “Marvel’s Uncanny X-Men” went big on license but small on gameplay for NES gamers everywhere. The game features plenty of familiar faces, including Wolverine, Cyclops and other members of the crime fighting squad, but then gives them pretty much nothing to do. Players will wander around the top-down levels, trying (and failing) to beat up enemies thanks to the completely horrendous gameplay. Seriously. You lunge forward with an attack and set yourself up to take damage while doing so. You actually live longer doing nothing.
What’s more, the collision detection makes “X-Men” feel like amateurs programmed it. Objects pass through walls, and most of the time your shots pass right by enemies, while they roll right over you and finish you off. Even the option to play with a friend doesn’t help, because you’ll both feel so bad. If you must have a collective X-Men experience that makes you feel like you’re kicking ass, we suggest tracking down Konami’s slick arcade game, either in your local amusement center or on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. It’s only ten bucks, and you’ll get far more joy out of it than you will with this failure.
4. Fantastic Four
We’re not sure what was the bigger insult — the two Hollywood-ized “Fantastic Four” movies that were better left in pre-production, or the horrendously bad side-scrolling beat-em-up that Acclaim released for the PS One. “Fantastic Four” lets you switch between the superheroes at any given time during gameplay (simply by pausing and choosing your hero), but aside from that and the retro-ized cover art, there’s nothing here that fans will enjoy.
The controls are too repetitive for their own good, and they barely take advantage of the Four’s powers. Mr. Fantastic should have awesome stretchy powers, right? Well, he doesn’t. And Thing moves like he’s got a bladder control problem. Along with this, players also have to contend with lame graphics, including vehicle transparencies and poorly animated characters, along with the most grinding rock tunes you’ll ever hear. They repeat every two minutes or so, and the only way to drown them out is to turn off your TV volume entirely. This “Fantastic Four” drivel is so evil, we believe that Doctor Doom was behind its development. There’s no other way to explain it.
3. Aquaman: Battle For Atlantis
(TDK Interactive/Xbox, GameCube)
Aquaman gets a lot of flak in the comic book world (he’s constantly made fun of on “Big Bang Theory,” but probably in jest) and he gets similar treatment when it comes to video games. But we can’t blame his underwater persona for this game’s failure. Instead, we turn to Lucky Chicken Games, a developer that took the lazy route when it came to its development. “Aquaman: Battle For Atlantis” clearly runs on the basics, whether it’s the lame underwater combat (do punches and kicks really have this much of an impact this deep in the ocean?) or the inability to grapple enemies and throw them around (even when they’re right in front of you!).
The game involves a story where Black Manta is invading your underwater city, and as the Kenny Loggins-esque Aquaman (seriously, check out the beard), you must save the day. Sadly, you’ll never feel like doing so, since missions take too damn long to complete and the visuals never really rise above their washed-out appearance. And combined with the awful controls, you’ll probably get through about 20 minutes of it before chucking it from your system and looking for something better. Do the world a favor and chuck your copy into the ocean.
2. Batman: Dark Tomorrow
“Batman: Arkham Asylum” has set a pretty high standard for the Dark Knight in the gaming world, but it also serves as a redemption of sorts for his previous failures, among them “Batman: Dark Tomorrow.” Everything that could go wrong with this game did, mainly because the development team at Kemco couldn’t make its concept sharp enough to be exceptional — or for that matter, playable. The game features Batman battling the Joker and other adversaries, but getting to these showdowns is a trial in itself, mainly because of the game’s ludicrous stealth and fighting tactics. Neither work properly, and as a result you’ll lose your mind just trying to get to the next part of the stage, if not the end of it.
What’s more, Kemco sorely limits what you can do with your utility belt. You do have access to the Bat Grapple and other tools, but it’s sporadic at best. You can’t call upon them at any time during combat, only in specific spots in a stage. The rest of the time, you’re stuck using the Bat’s physical techniques, which, again, simply don’t work here. What’s more, the animated CG sequences set the stage for a better-looking game that never comes. The washed-out visuals make it hard to see what’s happening, as do the unfixable camera angles. The thing as a whole just smells like a heaping pile of guano. Avoid it.
1. Superman 64
We’ve talked about “Superman 64,” at great length, in our previous Man of Steel article, talking about the missteps the DC hero has made when it comes to video game products. However, this particular game is the prime example of how badly things can go wrong.â€¨
Let’s start with the plot. Lex Luthor has created a virtual world, trapping Lois Lane and other friends of Superman inside of it. Now, instead of seeking out the generator of said world and shutting down Lex’s plot, Superman goes inside of it to get some answers, creating a lot of unnecessary work for himself. What’s more, the missions are incredibly difficult, even if it’s something as simple as flying through rings scattered throughout the world. It’s a combination of a time limit that cuts it way too close each time and unresponsive controls. How unresponsive? If you manage to successfully turn left, you’ve completed quite the accomplishment.
“Superman 64” also fails in the presentation department. The graphics look so washed-out, you’ll glance at your Nintendo 64 and wonder if some kind of food additive got into the cartridge slot. The voicework is pretty lame as well, with barely any hint of meaningful dialogue. Even “Superman IV: The Quest For Peace” has a more reasonable script. Yep, that bad.
Really, the best thing you can do if you ever lay your hands on a “Superman 64” cartridge is set it down in the street and run it over. You’ll be doing the world a favor, saving them from this piece of Kryptonite-like shovelware.
If you’re tired of the worst, be sure to check out CBR’s Ten Best Comic Book Video Games Ever Made!