Sega: Where Superhero Games First Took Off
Long before there was the PlayStation 4, the Xbox One and most of Nintendo’s portable consoles there was Sega, home to the best early superhero games. There, we said it. Sure, there was Justice League Heroes: The Flash on the Game Boy Advance and before that, X-Men: The Arcade Game by Konami, but Sega was where you’d find all your favourite superheroes.
Obviously, this isn’t the case anymore. Now, superhero games can be found almost anywhere you look from consoles and online to mobile phones. We’ve had some real top-notch installments including the Arkham games, Injustice 2, the Ultimate Marvel VS Capcom franchise and, who could forget, Spider-Man 2 – a PlayStation 2 classic.
Are Superhero Movies Really Why Superhero Games Are Now Popular?
Over the last few years, superheroes have grown to unimaginable levels of fame due to the massive MCU and DCU, which has led to even more releases. The world of superheroes is so popular that they’ve even started influencing other franchises. For instance, inFamous Second Son and Saints Row 4 almost always show up on best superhero games lists.
Even more recently, following the release of Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War, Norse god Thor has been showing up quite a lot. He is supposedly the big bad boss in the current God of War games while one of the top iGaming franchises, the Thunderstruck slot machine, is based entirely on the King of Asgard.
Clearly, the MCU and DCU must have led to more superhero games being created. Still, it isn’t what kicked it all off to begin with. That credit, in our eyes, goes straight to Sega, and here are a few games that prove it.
Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage (1994)
For starters, the Sega Genesis had Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage (1994), the edgiest-looking cartridge to ever have existed. Well, the first print of the game was anyway, with blood-red plastic that made even the nerdiest ’90s gamer feel cool. The game itself, which was inspired by the comic book story of Maximum Carnage, wasn’t uncool either. In it, you could control both Spider-Man and Venom, who were helped by a team of allies to stop Carnage and his mean henchmen. Sure, it handled like a regular beat ‘em up game but the characters, colour scheme and bonkers Green Jelly soundtrack all came together to create a truly great game.
X-Men (1993) & X-Men 2: Clone Wars (1995)
Yup, you read that right. Before there was Star Wars (unless you truly believe those stories took place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…), there was X-Men 2: Clone Wars. This game’s predecessor was also pretty great, a success considering it took place in one location, but Clone Wars was still an upgrade. The platformer had a total of seven heroes you could play as, including the usual villain Magneto, and the story was significantly better. The only downfall was the music, which for some reason was always ridiculously quiet.
The Death and Return of Superman (1994)
Of all the superheroes, Superman has definitely had the hardest time breaking into the video game scene. Really, the only great game he’s ever featured in was The Death and Return of Superman (1994). The side-scroller had plenty of action, and despite being incredibly difficult, it was also very rewarding. You could also play as other characters besides Superman, with Superboy, Steel, Cyborg, the Eradicator and Doomsday all appearing on the roster.
Other noteworthy, early superhero games that appeared on Sega consoles include The Adventures of Batman & Robin (1994), the first Batman game to make it big long before the Arkham series. There was also The Punisher, and we’re still waiting to see a better video game version of him. Clearly, we owe Sega a huge lot when it comes to superhero games, and we thought it was about time they got some recognition for it!