Superhero video games, assemble!

I’d say it’s a pretty firm bet that everyone here at Geek Smash is a fan of superheros. We may not all have read the comics–I’m not a comics guy, myself–but we’ve seen the movies, the TV shows and the video games. Since I just re-watched “The Avengers” last night and was playing some video games this morning, I got to thinking about the “superhero video game” genre.

There are some amazing examples out there, games that really make us feel like our favorite heroes. Then there are those that make us want to scream in frustration. “That’s not what [insert hero/heroine name] would do!” we shout at our console. “This is ridiculous!”

So I’ve compiled my favorite and least favorite superhero video games here. Obviously this list consists of what I found most and least enjoyable: Your personal list will probably differ a bit.

 

[box_light]5th Worst — “Superman Returns“[/box_light]

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Wish I could have played as Bizarro the whole time.

What is it about Superman that makes his games so terrible? I mean, sure, the character can be a little bland, especially when you compare him to someone like Batman, but still, the guy has a host of cool powers, including flight and laser vision. How can you screw that up?

Turns out it’s not hard to do. “Superman Returns” probably does the best of all Superman-based games out there, but that’s kinda like saying you’re the fastest slug racing in the Kentucky Derby. True, Metropolis is nice and big and Superman’s super speed/flight makes getting around pretty easy. People forget that ol’ Supes can give even the Flash a run for his money when he gets up to speed, and “Superman Returns” makes you feel that with the occasional sonic boom as the screen blurs around you.

Mechanically, it makes sense for Superman not to have a health bar as he is, after all, practically invincible, but as the comments surrounding the recent “Man of Steel” movie have pointed out, Metropolis is not. So the game uses the city’s “health” as your own. If Metropolis takes too much damage in a given chapter, that counts as losing. I found that fact so irritating in my playthrough that I ended up using cheat codes just to have some fun.

Speaking of fun, the game gets pretty old pretty quick–the parts I enjoyed most were the sections when you play as Bizarro and are awarded points for destroying the city. If it were up to me, I’d play as him the whole time.

All in all, Metropolis feels dull for all its magnitude; Superman’s enemies don’t have much variation; the story is easily forgettable; and combat gets irritating after a while. “Superman Returns” makes for an okay bargain bin find or weekend rental if you’re a big fan of the Man of Steel. Otherwise, I’d pass.

How much this game made me feel like a superhero: 6.5 Supermen flying through Mr. Mxyzptlk’s rings with a sense of déjà vu…

 

[box_light]5th Best — “The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction“[/box_light]

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The 2005 Hulk title, “The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction,” might not be as pretty as some of the other “best” games on this list, but in terms of sheer destructive fun, how can you get any better than the big green monster? Unlike the Hulk game from 2003, “Ultimate Destruction” keeps you in the driving seat of the angry guy, right where every Hulk game should stay. (I mean, it’s not like we hang out as Clark Kent in the Daily Planet offices in Superman games, right?)

“Ultimate Destruction,” funnily enough, features massively destructible items, allowing players to smash up almost anything and use it as a weapon. Cop cars heading your way? Grab a dumpster and play catch. Hulk-busting robots making you angry? Rip a lamp post out of the ground and batter up. Plus, the big environments combined with the Hulk’s incredible jump distance make getting around a breeze.

Sure, the story isn’t as solid as some of the other entries on this list, but story isn’t why we play a game like “Ultimate Destruction” for anyway. That’s why it ranks as the number five best on my list of superhero video games.

How much this game made me feel like a superhero: 7.5 Hulks breaking cars in half and using them like boxing gloves on a tank