For true comic superhero fans, there’s almost an inherent appreciation of all things vintage. That’s not to say new things aren’t exciting as well (let’s just say Avengers: Infinity War looks incredibly cool). But the old stuff is always great, whether because it’s amusing, high quality, or simply pure – or all three! And just as we sometimes look back at ageless toys from comic history, we’re at a point in which certain comic-related video games feel like canonical history also.
So with no further ado, I wanted to take a look back at five awesome retro superhero games, appearing below in no particular order.
Justice League Task Force
This one is weird the moment you start looking at it, because it’s actually a 1995 game that was produced by the still-popular (and much improved) Blizzard company. Built for Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, it involved several of the most prominent DC heroes and villains and was basically a 2D arcade fighter with a fairly ordinary underlying plot line. As one scathing retro review noted, it was meant to ride the coattails of Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat success, but didn’t exhibit the same quality. That’s a fair assessment – it’s not a great game in and of itself. But looking back on it now, it was a very charming effort, and an early iteration, in a way, of the modern Injustice series.
Designed by Konami as an arcade-only game in 1992 (and eventually ported to modern consoles and mobile systems), X-Men is about as pure as it gets. It was a side-scrolling beat-em-up game in which players could control various heroic X-Men going up against legions of sinister villains (including mutant crocodiles) in pursuit of Magneto. That’s about it – it was a perfect early arcade combat game.
Wonder Woman Slot
This is a different selection in that its gameplay doesn’t resemble that of any other game on this list. However, it’s become an increasingly interesting retro game in that it’s one of the few existing reminders (for non-comic fans that is) that Wonder Woman existed before the 2017 film. The game was placed on a list of “essential” retro slot arcades, and there it was written that it’s drawn to look just like the comic. It’s an accurate characterization, and one that makes it a very worthwhile game.
The Uncanny X-Men
Released for NES in 1989, this is actually the oldest game on this list – and it looked like it. Based on the Uncanny X-Men comic series, it was something of a dungeon crawler action game in which you could control different heroes at different. There was actually an option to play two-player as well and collaborate on the game’s missions, taking down various bad guys and eventually five villainous bosses.
Captain America & The Avengers
Frankly, the 1991 Data East arcade game (later ported to Genesis) was awesome. It was beat-em-up experience in which you (or you and a friend in two-player co-op) controlled Avengers, took down villains, and tried to stop Red Skull from blowing up the Earth with a giant laser on the moon (hey, why not?). There’s good action to be had in the game, and even the graphics aren’t bad for what it is. One review also includes “great heroic soundtrack and voices” as a “pro,” and I’d have to agree. There’s a lot of good-natured amusement in listening to the character phrases in this game.