If they were real, most of the more popular superheroes would be well over the hill by now. Batman first appeared 77 years ago while Superman left Krypton for Earth in 1938. Marvel’s characters don’t fare much better – at 75, Captain America is long past trading in his shield for the retirement village while Tony Stark’s Iron Man is a comparatively youthful 53.
Let’s just be happy that comic books aren’t too fussy about making sense.
Other than the thousands of storylines that have emerged from DC and Marvel’s respective HQs over the years, the upside of our favourite superheroes’ advancing age is that they’ve had plenty of time to make appearances in other media, inclusive of TV shows and movies, slot machines and video games.
With that latter point in mind, here are a few games featuring superheroes you might have missed over the past 80 years.
Marvel Heroes 2016
Marvel Heroes 2016 is a reborn massive multiplayer online game or MMOG. Previously launched without the date in its moniker in 2013, Gazillion Entertainment’s superhero affair didn’t do very well the first time around. Marvel Heroes – the first version – was criticised for an emphasis on grinding, the near-requirement of real-money transactions, and for its repetitive gameplay.
Rather than close it down altogether, Gazillion pulled on their red underpants and redeveloped the game around input from the community. Today, the title is arguably one of the more interesting MMOGs on the market. The developer is promising large, yearly updates to keep the game moving forward in what has become a dry, overcrowded niche of gaming.
Fantastic Four Slots
Superheroes have always been a source of inspiration for slot machine designers, with everybody from Thor to The Hulk appearing on the reels. The Fantastic Four slot on 888casino is one of the more popular games on the company’s roster, giving players the opportunity to join supervillain Dr Doom or unite with the Four against their arch-nemesis.
A five-reel, 20-payline slot, Fantastic Four includes special features for all team members (Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, the Human Torch and The Thing), as well as a bonus round triggered by Doctor Doom.
Superman: Shadow of Apokolips
Superman 64, a game released four years before Shadow of Apokolips, is unofficially the single worst thing ever made. It might sound like a melodramatic thing to say but Apokolips didn’t really have much luck on the market simply because of the air of suspicion Superman 64 created around subsequent games based on the character.
It’s a shame as Shadow of Apokolips managed to do justice to Clark Kent’s alter-ego and stand as a good game in its own right. The title, released on GameCube and PlayStation 2, had a true sense of scale, letting the player fly around a vast city. It wasn’t a landmark game by any means but it probably deserves a lot more attention than it got back in 2004.
The Invincible Iron Man
Despite all his appearances on the big screen, Iron Man doesn’t have much of a presence on any video game platform. The Game Boy title, The Invincible Iron Man, serves as one of the few exceptions. Iron Man is a game in the style of Super Metroid, a ‘run and gun’ platformer, in which the metal protagonist has to defeat hordes of robots.
The game gets bonus points for including one of the most fun (and ridiculous) gameplay elements of today – the double jump – but its exclusivity to the Game Boy Advance is a little bit disappointing, given that it never got ported anywhere else. The game is also on the brief side of things, with nine levels lasting around three minutes each.
As a parting gift, and a fine way to pass the time until the next Marvel or DC movie release, The Punisher, a Max Payne-style shoot ’em up, and Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions are also worth a look this wintertime.