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The Top 8 Non-Mainstream Comic Book Games

May 31, 2022 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Spawn: In the Demon’s Hand Image Credit: Capcom

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball! I’m back this week talking about games based on comic books but not the traditional Marvel/DC stuff. The basic rule here is that anything goes, but it can’t be a Marvel/DC book when the game came out, though now is fine, given how corporate acquisitions work. Let’s begin:

#8: Spawn: In the Demon’s Hand

Spawn has had some pretty dire games over its lifespan, notably Spawn: The Eternal on the PS1, which is one of the worst games ever made. Conversely, Spawn: In the Demon’s Hand is probably the best Spawn game made but that’s still not saying much. The game itself is basically a weird mash of Power Stone and Cannon Spike for the Dreamcast, which makes sense since Capcom made all of this stuff. You can run and jump around like in Power Stone, but the game itself has much more bullet hell shooter aspects, which is akin to Cannon Spike. You do occasionally find power ups in the world, to increase your speed, health or weapons for a short time but it has nothing like the weapon/item pick-ups in Power Stone. The normal game is the kind of bullet hell stuff but there is a four player Battle Royale mode, which is a lot like Power Stone, only not as fun.

#7: Snoopy vs. The Red Baron

How’d you like to play Crimson Skies only with Snoopy and the gang? Well, have I got a game for you! Snoopy is a good game but it is a bit short. It’s a pretty standard dogfighting game but is more approachable than some, given the Peanuts license. Actually the biggest actual issue with the game is the lack of multiplayer. The game came out in 2006 which is well past Crimson Skies but CS had online multiplayer and Snoopy did not. Well, the PSP version had some wireless multiplayer but the PS2/PC version did not. This is a cute little game, and it’s kind of funny to see more of the Peanuts gang in the WW1 setting.

#6: Turok: Dinosaur Hunter

It’s funny, there have been 6 Turok games in the franchise’s lifespan and only one of them, the first one, is actually based on hunting dinosaurs. The first game, on the N64, obviously suffers from fog issues, it’s a way to try to keep the framerate steady but you can only see like 7 feet in front of you, but still, I love it. This game actually made the dinosaurs a real threat but also gave you a lot of very fun weapons to do battle with them. Plus the game had a fairly robust cheat system (hey, remember when cheats were part of games?) that let you screw around and have even more fun as you played, like giving you all the weapons or infinite ammo. The T-Rex in this game is still one of the most memorable fights that could be had on the N64.

#5: Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness

I’m only talking about the first two episodes and they were pretty cool. I really dug the overall cel-shaded look and combat system of these two games. It was a mixed of turn-based combat but also had some action stuff, like you could buff your attack right before you actually hit. The humor/writing is also fantastic, as you might expect, since it’s actually written by Tycho/Gabe, so it feels just like an evolution of the comic. The only downside of the first two episodes is that some of the environments were a bit limited but that’s about it.

#4: Aliens vs. Predator (Jaguar)

Like with Spawn most of the Aliens games are pretty dire. There are only three good Alien games: Isolation, Infestation and finally Aliens vs. Predator. The catch is there have actually been three main Alien vs. Predator games, all, ironically enough made by the same developer, Rebellion Developments, but only the first one, on the Atari Jaguar was any good. Frankly, Alien vs. Predator on the Jaguar is the best game on the system by a wide margin. The game itself is a fairly early version of a survival game, each race/character had their own positives and negatives. Like, the Alien couldn’t heal (the Predator and Marine can to limited degrees) but you can infect enemy soldiers so when you die, boom, a new alien spawns. The Marine and Predator could use weapons but both had to find them and deal with ammo management. It’s still just a great, and scary game, even if it is 28 years old.

#3: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Arcade)

Now this game is obviously based on the cartoon show at the time, but hey, the cartoon was based on the comics so it still fits. Unlike later Turtles games, which had more clear delineation between the actual Turtles, here they all kind of play the same. Turtles in Time had the idea of Donatello having a longer reach but is slower, while Raph was very quick but his sais were short range. This game, they were all the same and it was fine. It kept the cartoon intro, look liked the show, especially for the intro, and had some voice work in there as well.

#2: Sam & Max Hit the Road

So until I started writing this column, I legitimately didn’t know Sam & Max were comic book characters. I thought someone at LucasArts just came up with the characters/plot and they made a game, but nope. Sam & Max started as a comic in 1987 and it wasn’t until 1993 when Hit the Road actually came out. I’ve tried to play Hit the Road in the past, like as a teenager but I didn’t really get it. I think the logic is too esoteric for me, or it just takes some weird jumps in logic to solve puzzles that I didn’t really comprehend. The reason it’s on here though and high is because I really did appreciate the overall look of the game, the voice work, and the humor of it. Plus, Sam & Max are just an iconic duo and I still want to actually finish this game someday.

#1: The Darkness

I will generally admit that The Darkness 2 is a better playing game. The gunplay feels sharper, your Darkness powers are more useful, and it had a better upgrade system. With all that said though, I still just appreciate The Darkness 1 more. The gunplay in Darkness 1 isn’t actually bad at all, it’s just more deliberate, so it feels slower than a traditional FPS game, which is what Darkness 2 was going for. Darkness 1 also just committed more to the actual First Person perspective, like the infamous dancing scene, or letting you watch a whole movie just with your girlfriend on a couch. Also, Darkness 1 just had a better voice cast, Kirk Acevado was a great version of Jackie. Darkness 2 might play better but the Darkness 1 is a more special game.

For comments, list which favorite non-mainstream comic book based games you like and why.

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