Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 just came out and, true to its name, the series continues to be the ultimate form of Marvel fan service. Sam’s loved Hulk-smashing his way through MUA3 on Switch these past few days, which got him and the rest of the team pondering which (if any) licensed games managed to do it better.
Being able to play as the X-Men, and even some of the Brotherhood of Mutants, was a dream come true.
Chris | Batman Arkham
I never rated Batman in my younger days. I considered the superhero designation to be a misnomer because, as heroic as he may be, Batman does not possess superpowers. I soon came to realise that's not just part of his allure, but it's exactly what makes him a superhero!
Rocksteady managed to capture that feeling of being a proficient crime-fighter and balance it against the very real vulnerabilities Bruce Wayne has as a "regular" man in their Arkham series.
In each game, the first few combat sections set you up as an all-powerful guardian. When the guys with guns arrive, it becomes clear that Batman isn't as bulletproof as he appears and must retreat to the shadows. There's a sense of peril that’d be absent if we were playing as one of DC Comics' other heroes, like Superman, because Bats only has his wits and a utility belt full of Bat-nouns to rely on.
Excellent gameplay aside, the characters are fantastically written and acted as well. Mark Hamill's portrayal of the Joker is so good that it’s now the benchmark against which I measure all iterations of the character. Indeed, many of the friends and foes Batman meets in the Arkham games have became the default in my head and any variations - such as those in the Telltale episodics - merely feel like cheap cover versions.
Bats stalks his prey from the shadows.
Liam | Spider-Man (2002)
2002’s Spider-Man isn’t the best superhero game out there. Heck, it’s not even the best Spider-Man game, but it gets my vote mainly for nostalgia’s sake. Along with Super Smash Bros. Melee, it was one of two games that came bundled with our (read: my older brother’s) brand-new Nintendo GameCube.
Loosely based on the film of the same name – which I also enjoyed – and made by Call of Duty stalwarts Treyarch, it was the first game I’d played that captured the feeling of being a superhero in a metropolis. Up until that point, everything I’d encountered starring caped crusaders had been a pixelated, 2D side-scrolling affair.
Granted, you weren’t exactly given complete freedom to explore the city (the streets would swallow you up if you dared descend towards them) and there were some questionable physics (Spidey would swing from webs afixed to nothing), but it did the core stuff like scaling skyscrapers and beating up bad guys solidly enough.
I also liked that it added in new bosses to compliment Green Goblin and expand on the film’s story. If memory serves, there was even a cool challenge mode where you could take on waves of enemies for added replay value.
Sam's parents bought him this game when he couldn't see the film (rated 12) at the cinema. He liked it, too.
Rob | Waterworld
An excellent topic this week, folks, as I'm sure you'll all agree. As usual, yours truly had many options: the childhood-defining GoldenEye 007, grand sports classics such as Brian Lara Cricket, or even something altogether unexpected... I've gone for the latter option, unsurprisingly!
Cast your minds back to the glorious mid-nineties: a time of fantastic chart music, Opal Fruits and Kevin Costner - oh yes.
Lord Costner (as he should always be referred to) was the star of many of my favourite films as a kid, not least sea-based sci-fi movie Waterworld. To go alongside this masterpiece of celluloid, legendary developer Ocean set about creating a game that would live up to the genius of the film, and by Jove they did it!
I owned the Game Boy version, thoroughly enjoying the swimming and isometric sailing of earlier levels, alongside the platforming and shooting of later stages. With no save states I never actually managed to complete it, so here's hoping it reaches a virtual console at some point in the future!
Until then, you'll just have to enjoy the pixelated majesty of Lord Costner.
James | Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
While I have fond memories of the likes of Yoda Stories, X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, Empire at War and Rogue Squadron (a close second place), it was The Force Unleashed which really captured my imagination as a game which takes one of my favourite properties and does something interesting with it.
Its sequel might have failed to meet the standards set by the first, but for a franchise not short of adaptations it found its niche by creating an original story which, though a bit cheesy, is quintessentially Star Wars.
Jedi: Fallen Order is Force-dashing its way over the hill for the end of the year, but to date TFU remains the most fun representation of lightsaber flailing in gaming. Plus, once you've powered up young Starkiller's skills, the joy of throwing multiple enemies into one another and then off a cliff never gets old.
To top it off, you have one of the greatest villains in entertainment history not only featured but playable for the door-busting first level, which is the perfect introduction to all of the Force toys you could strangle a sarlacc with. Let's hope there's more exciting light sword play still to come in November.
For all the game's faults, tormenting enemies with the Force was brilliant.
What's the best licensed game you've played? Feel free to let us know with a comment below.