RELEASED: 1991 (ARC)
AVAILABLE ON: ARC, GB, GEN, GG, SNES
DEVELOPER(S): Data East, Opera House (GEN), Realtime Associates (GG), Mindscape (SNES)
PUBLISHER(S): Mindscape, Data East (GEN)
Quarters turned into millions whenever there was an arcade game dedicated to punching and kicking. Before the emergence of dozens of one-on-one fighting games, starting with Street Fighter II, there was the side-scrolling beat 'em up, somewhat pioneered by Double Dragon as early as 1987, or if you really want to dig deep, Kung-Fu Master (later ported to the NES as the classic Kung Fu) in 1984. Even comic book heroes often excelled in this genre - the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had a few classic beat 'em ups to their credit, and Nintendo's versions of Batman Returns fared quite well. In 1991, Data East made a fairly popular arcade game starring Marvel's supergroup The Avengers - one version of it, anyway. An NES game of the same title was made the same year, but it was a generic platformer. In 1993, a 16-bit port of the arcade game was made, along with a couple of stripped handheld versions. Now this game has the potential to be good and memorable, unlike its pseudo-counterpart on the NES. But it isn't. As a matter of fact, it might be even worse. By far, the only positive side to it is that you don't even have to see Captain America in the whole game beyond the title screen.
Avengers' darkest hour
Captain America's arch nemesis Red Skull has put together a supergroup of villains, including Klaw, Living Laser, The Mandarin, Ultron and a group of Sentinels, in an effort to take over the world. Sounds like a job that no superhero can handle on his own - enter The Avengers.
I was really pumped about this game, seriously. Even though Captain America's the title character, you won't have to play as him at all if you don't want to. Iron Man - one of my Marvel favourites - and The Vision, someone who has appeared in way too few games perhaps due to his complexity, inhumanity and unfamiliarity to worldwide masses, return from their embarrassing exile in the NES game to hand out some punishment right alongside the already familiar playable characters, Cap and Hawkeye. (As a personal note, The Vision was actually the first Marvel character I ever idolized, as odd as it seems. My long-standing favourites such as Spider-Man, X-Men and Iron Man came a lot later.)
|You will see the word "crush" is used a lot.|
Well, the graphics are fair enough and there's a comic book feel to the in-game action. Returning to TMNT, especially TMNT II since it was made earlier than III or IV (NO SHIT!) - I would've hoped for the cutscenes to be a little bit more alive, though. The port for the NES (make a note) was made in 1990, and it featured actual cutscenes and many cinematic events during gameplay. It was so exciting for a kid into TMNT to watch - and the fancy graphics alone would've made for a good memory, if the game wasn't so great in every way. Well, this SNES game (make another note) was made in 1993, and it features still images, like comic book cutouts, and there's rarely anything extra happening in the background during gameplay. OK, to be fair, there are four playable characters that might all look totally different at first sight. But still, it's 8 versus 16, with a few years in between. The voice samples are consistently horrible, and constant. You might want to M.Y.M., 'cause the hectic music doesn't call for any celebration either.
The vital charts of the characters which indeed serve as the opening credits make believe that there are some sort of strategic patterns to using them - you get to choose characters between each defeat - but there isn't. Even though their moves look different, they function the same and each character is on the exact same level of strength and endurance, no matter what variety of crap the game feeds you. As much as I'd like to play as Stark and him alone, I had to choose another character for the sake of comparison. Of course, I chose The Vision. I was disappointed to see that both characters share the very same quirks, and neither one of them is any more comfortable to use than the other. Even in the TMNT games on the NES, I found Donatello easier and more comfortable to control than any other Turtle. It might be all in my head, but even that's better than sensing no difference at all. As far as SNES games go, in Final Fight there were essential differences between the characters - and the SNES port of that game came out in 1990 as well. Batman Returns had only one playable character, but mostly good controls, diverse movement, and fuckin' great graphics. That came out some months before Cap U.S.A. and The Ravagers, I believe. This game is stuck in a time it didn't even exist in arcades. Fuckin' great graphics? Not really. Diverse movement? Sure... maybe. Good controls? Not in the slightest.
Captain America and The Avengers for the SNES is not only stale, boring and a pain in the ass, it's also somewhat of a disappointment. There are not only better and earlier games from other media franchises to consider, there are also better Marvel games of the same basic structure - that's why I expected at least something from it, most of all a better experience than the NES game. The Captain America theme does very little to annoy here, but this little quantum of comfort isn't enough.
+ The sight of Iron Man, and the fact that you don't even have to see Captain America in action
+ A pretty good ensemble cast for true comic book fans to get pumped up about
+ The shoot 'em up levels are not too fun, but at least they offer a break
- Horrible controls
- Horrible sound
- Somewhat empty and obsolete in every possible way
- Impossible difficulty for all the wrong reasons
- No differences between how the four theoretically totally different characters play out
- General enemy behaviour would be dastardly even if there was a scattering attack, and even if the controls were better
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