Being brutally honest, I knew very little about the character of Spidey-Man. I recognised him because every human in the civilised world knows what he looks like and that his super-power is super-stickiness. I also knew that he doubled as a reporter, because every superhero pulls this stunt. Hell, I didn’t even know who or what Electro was! Sounded like a bad electronic music artist’s name to me. And so, I dived into a world that I was practically clueless about.
The game opened with a “Previously on Spider-Man!” recap moment that fans of the cartoons would have been used to at the time. It showed Venom wrecking the gaff and our favourite wall crawler slapping the symbiote out of him for his troubles. Right off the bat, this was an eye opener! There was a flurry of punches and flashes of Spider Sense. Before I had even hit start, I was hooked! As I got stuck in, I began to laugh at Spidey’s smart-ass attitude, became intrigued by Hammerhead and The Shocker, and got really annoyed by Electro’s voice. All in all, I was blown away! I suddently found that I wanted to know about these guys and the universe they inhabited. Just like that, it all changed. When pay day rolled around that week, I marched into town, and bought my first two comic books- The Astonishing Spider-Man and a copy of the latest Wolverine & Gambit. With those purchases, I was a changed man. I found myself collecting a ton of coming books over the years- Jugde Dredd, X-Men, Batman, Battle Royale, Iron Man, Slainé, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, I even found myself reading a handful of Heavy Metal comics and a spot of Manga. I really loved my time with this form of entertainment. I ate those books by the dozen. However, it’s when comics meet video games that I really start to have a blast.
Every major superhero that I can think of has either starred in their own videogame, or at least made cameo within one. One of my personal favourite is the video game of that terrible Wolvie movie- Wolverine Origins. Luckily, the only thing the game shares with it’s motion picture counterpart is the title. Wolverine’s game is a blinging Hack’n’Slash of the highest order. It opens with our two foot tall hero diving from a aircraft into a warzone. You have complete control here, as he hurtles towards the ground, trying to avoid AA fire. The jungle below comes into views and suddenly the game goes into momentary slow motion as Wolverine pops his trademark claws and lands with them embedded into the skull of an unforturate soldier. There’s a pile of dust and debris, which Wolverine then walks out of, fitting his dislocated shoulder back into place and growing new muscle and flesh over his adamantium bones after the fall. It’s apparent from these opening seconds that this game does not fuck around!
This is Logan the way you’ve always wanted to play him. He’s a hardened killing machine who consistantly takes risks that would be life threatening to the average man. He lunges claws first at helicopters before ripping the pilots out through the windscreen and holding them up high for the propellers to finish them off. He single handedly fights multiple wendigos at once. He dismembers entire armies in the blink of an enraged eye. He’s the Canuckle Head that we’ve read about for years, but never got to see his unrestained primal aggression in action. As a fan of the Canadian killer, I was mighty pissed when walking out of the cinema after seeing his movie. However, this game makes it all more than worth it. If running his name through the shite meant that we could have this, then I hope all his future movies are terrible too.
Of course, the relationship between comic books and video games isn’t a one way street. Infact, it’s quite the opposite. Sure it’s fun to take control of your favourite Marvel heroes and go to war with Galactus, but it can be just as much fun to flip this whole idea on it’s head. What happens when you take your favourite video game stars and place them on a printed page where they must converse and go about their business in a more life like situation? The results are a mixed bag of amazing entertainment, and incedibly irritating representations. Both of which can be found through comic book translations of the same video game franchise- Street Fighter.
Legend has it that this is where Capcom themselve stepped in and took the rights for Street fighter away from Malibu. And right in the nick of time too, because in the third issue they included Shen Long and a new Street Fighter that they just created themselves.
Years later, we were treated to another dose of comic styled Street Fighter action, this time by Udon Entertainment. If you were expecting more pig ugly, mullet chopping shinanigens here, you’d be sadly mistaken. When Udon got their hands on the franchise, they made a run of comics that felt like they’d lept straight off the game’s screen. The characters looked familiar yet fresh, they interacted like real human beings, their relationships seemed real, and their special moves were perfect! This is the comic series that really opened my eyes to how damn well video games universes could translate onto a page. It took everything I knew from the game and made it feel even better than it did in Manga’s classic Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie. Ken was heavily involved in family life and a great friend to Ryu, Chun-Li and Guile worked together on a professional basis, Adon’s hair was nice and ridiculous, T. Hawk was fucking humongous, Sakura was a pain in the ass; everyone was there and well respresented. Hell, we even got to see Charlie fight, and fling one-handed Sonic Booms like they were going out of fashion. It was the most accurate version of Street Fighter I’d ever seen outside of a video gmae console. Everything not only worked, but worked brilliantly. Beautiful art work, believable character interaction and epic fight scenes made this a jaw dropping experience that I just couldn’t stop reading. It seems that I wasn’t the only one blown away here either, as Capcom actually got Udon to re-draw all of the character sprites and backgrounds frame by frame to be included in a SFII re-release for Xbox Live Arcade called Super Street Fighter II: HD Remix. This game looked fantastic, and breathe new life into the old game. It also packed a “remixed” move set which put a new spin on classic special moves, completely changing them into an entirely different style of Street Fight than the one that SFII fans would have been acustomed too.
With Gaurdians of The Galaxy smashing all manner of box office records, it seems that superheroes are currently more popular than ever. This might put hipsters in a predicatment as they try to claim to have been fans for years, when really they only know Rocket Racoon from seeing him in UMvC3, but for everyone else it’s a good thing. It makes superheroes more accessable to the regular Joe who might not have taken an interest in them prior to this, and in turn thrusts two of my favourites into the very center of the spot light. With their popularity soaring higher than Superman at a Snoop Dogg concerts, it also means that we are seeing a lot more comic book based video games. The last few years have seen Injustice: Gods Among Us, Deadpool, and a handful of Spider-Man games, to name just a few. The future looks spandex clad from at here on in, and is set to see an abundance of superheroes hitting consoles with the force of Doomsday. Best thing to do while these things are hot is take full advantage of them, diving into the boots of all of your favourite characters and adventuring through these familiar comic book worlds, because once a new Howard The Duck movie drops, it’s all over!