"Video Game Conventions Let Down The Super-Hero Genre"

Batman notwithstanding, most super-heroes are too powerful to fit well in standard video games, so say some veteran gaming reporters, following a discussion hatched at nearby urinals.

During the latest installment of the Listen Up podcast, host Garnett Lee tore into a design decision made in the recent Wolverine game that strips the hero of some of his powers, forcing players to earn them back, Metroid-style.

This anger apparently fomented during a mid-podcast bathroom break during which Lee and show regular John Davison, founder of What They Play, discussed the problem with super-hero games that involve heroes more powerful than mortal men.

Back from the restroom, they shared the following with the masses, at 1 hour, 24 minutes into their show:

Garnett Lee: If you're playing a Hulk or a Wolverine or a Captain America, you know who those characters are.

John Davison: This is where video game conventions let down the super-hero genre.

Lee: Absolutely.

Davison: There are expectations of video games that super-heroes aren't compatible with.

Lee: Like building the character. And having rewards based on how you develop the character. Maybe there's another reward system somebody could come up with. I don't' know what it is.

Davison: In that situation you should be able to die. There are certain things in video games that you take for granted that a super-hero automatically table-swipes. That's why the city-health thing [in EA's Superman Returns]I don't think it worked but..

G4TV.com reporter Patrick Klepek: It's clever. It was an attempt to do something different.


Comments

    They are pretty clueless. Many Superheroes develop their powers, abilities and character throughout their comics including the big name ones like Superman, Spiderman and Wolverine.

    If this is not developed convincingly then that's a problem with the developers, not some inherent flaw found in superhero video games.

      Actually, I don't think that's the heart of the problem.

      Superhero comix were emasculated in the 40's and 50's by the Code, an authority designed to stop comics destroying kids' morals and rotting their brains and souls. Sound familiar anyone?

      Ultimately this meant that the Spandex-wearers spent less time ACTUALLY fighting and more time engaged in what I can only call "soap opera for boys".

      Give someone a game, and they'll want to go around exercising the powers granted to those characters... but without an engaging Uncle Ben NPC there to remind the players that "with great power comes great responsibility", they'll go on senseless Crackdown-esque rampages.

      The trouble is that DC and Marvel have very stiff rules of engagement; Batman may be allowed to KO opponents using extreme martial arts violence, but isnt allowed to kill anyone (even through inaction). PERIOD. It's like Asimov's three laws, but for fictional characters

      The rights holders ruthlessly enforce these rules - much like how many racing games using actual likenesses of sports cars arent allowed by the manufacturers to show vehicle damage (as it would show they products in a bad light).

      It's unfortunate, but most Marvel and DC games will always choose the easy path - give you the powers but rigidly code systems to stop you doing stuff they would judge as "out of character". Which is a shame because unless they create a proper narrative based feedback mechanism that engenders guilt at the sight of senseless destruction, they *won't* and *can't* get players to actually *feel* like they can even try to get into character in the 1st place.

      It's a vicious cyle.

      Can I suggest we all stay they hell away from the Superhero genre until we can get some freedom to play with those tropes? This is why Superman as a game failed: they gave awsome powers, but failed to engage with Kal-El, either as a Hero or as a Man struggling with his life among humans. You could shatter 3-mile wide asteroids with a punch, but the average city building got away with a few cracks! You had awesome flight models... so you could rescue kittens.

      MEH.

    Bullshit.

    Sorry but thats complete bullshit.

    Hulk: Ultimate Destruction was one of the best games last gen.

    Spiderman 2 was fantastic.

    The new Wolverine game is great fun.

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