Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Superhero games for the Sega Genesis

Sega CD Summer is out! This is the fourth entry in the Sega Tote Series

When you were a kid, you didn't always have a ton of money to buy new games. They were expensive, after all. Most games had to wait for Christmas, but since I had a paper route, I was able to put some money aside to buy something new on occasion.

I've always had an affinity for superheroes and the '90s gave us some incredible cartoons like Batman: The Animated Series, Spider-Man: The Animated Series, and X-Men: The Animated Series.

I read comics from time to time (and they were often compilations), but most of my "comic book knowledge" comes from the '90s animated shows, which introduced things like "The Dark Phoenix Saga," the symbiote suit, and the origin of Two-Face.

It was only natural (and profitable) for publishers and comic book companies to release superhero games. My collection didn't have a ton of them--I'll cover three that I own--but countless comic books heroes appeared on video game consoles. Victor Lucas over at Electric Playground has a fantastic series of reviews of games ranging from the Genesis to the SNES, NES, and Game Boy Advance, among other systems. Seriously, go check out Side Scrolling Superheroes.

Captain America and the Avengers won't win any awards, but it's a fun arcade-style beat 'em up.

I'll start off with Captain America and the Avengers. This is a port of Data East's arcade game featuring four playable characters: Captain America, Iron Man, Hawkeye, and Vision. The arcade cab featured four players simultaneously, but the Genesis version only offered two-player co-op.

I love this game. At one point, my brother and I got so good at it that we could get through it without losing a life. We never made it through a "no damage" run because the Crossbones battle was extremely cheap. I usually played as Cap while my brother used Iron Man.

The controls in this game are super-responsive. The voice samples are, well, not great, but the music is good. Most importantly, it's fun to play and a couple shooter-like stages break up the beat-'em-up levels. I liked using Captain America because his shield attack felt fast and fluid. Iron Man was a close second, while Vision's and Hawkeye's attacks felt slow.

My brother and I always made fun of the voice on the selection screen whenever one of us chose Hawkeye because, well, it sounded like the guy had something stuck in his throat and had to clear things out, so to speak.

The SNES also got a port. I've read a lot of reviews saying the game is slow and the controls aren't very responsive. That happens without Blast Processing, you know.

My copy probably isn't considered complete in box because the Captain America pin is missing, sadly.

The cartridge is red, and that's about all this game has going for it.

Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage is based on an extremely '90s Spidey storyline.

The game is a standard side-scrolling beat 'em up--and it's pretty tough. I played the game a lot but didn't get very far. It was nice to be able to use Spider-Man or Venom, although I don't recall many differences between the two characters other than their sprites.

Enemy variety wasn't great. The game featured some nice comic book-inspired cutscenes and followed the comic fairly well, to my understanding. I didn't love the game soundtrack, although I understand some players really dig it.

The most notable thing about the game was probably its red cartridge. I'm not sure how "collectible" the thing was, however.

The "special edition poster" is lost to time

Another really tough game, X-Men came out in 1993 from Sega. You could play as four different characters: Cyclops, Wolverine, Gambit, and Nightcrawler. A few other X-Men characters, such as Jean Grey, Storm, and Archangel, served as complementary support characters who could attack or provide a useful function.

I could easily get past the Excalibur Lighthouse level using Nightcrawler. After that, though, I couldn't get very far. The game is hard with some blind jumps, confusing level layouts, and powerful enemies. I liked playing it, despite my inability to progress through it.

A few things I remember: you could park Wolverine in a safe area and he'd heal; Gambit was too "tall" for the Shi-ar Empire level and would get hit by laser fire even if he ducked; Iceman's bridge power helped you cheat in the Savage Level. Also, save the help characters for the bosses.

The game is pretty famous for having players press the reset button at a certain point to progress the story. I think people generally consider X-Men 2: The Clone Wars to be the superior game.