The best retro games based on comic books

Comics and video games share a lot in common – immersive, full of action and a great route to escapism. So it’s only natural to make video game adaptations on comic books. Often though, they tend to be quick cash-grabs, with shallow content and uninteresting gameplay. However, there are some gems to be found. Here, we’ve listed our favourites from the retro game systems.

Alien vs. Predator – Jaguar (1994)
Following the massive success of Doom on MS-DOS the previous year, it was natural consoles would receive their share of the FPS cake as well. Alien vs. Predator became the killer app of the Jaguar, and one of the most sold games on the 64-bitter.

What makes the game unique is the three different campaigns available. You can play either as the Alien, Predator or Private Lance J. Lewis of the Colonial Marines. All three characters have different plotlines, levels and play styles, resulting in what is essentially three games in one. It is even possible to save your progress in – you guessed it – three different save slots.

Astérix – Master System (1991)
Astérix is a comic by the French writer René Goscinny and artist Albert Uderzo, which, like the console this game was released on, is popular in Europe but not in North America. It tells the story of two Gaulish warriors, who fight the Roman empire during the era of Julius Caesar.

The game lets you play as either Astérix or Obelix, which play a bit differently, where the latter’s strength and size allows some areas inaccessible or not. If you are playing single player, you can choose character before each stage (after stage 1-2 onwards). If you play with a friend, you alternate turns between each stage. A bonus stage is also available, where you play as the dog Dogmatix.

Astérix was followed by two sequels on the same console.

The Punisher – Arcade (1993)
Capcom cranked out many of the best beat ’em ups during the 16-bit era. Final Fight took the genre to a new level in both graphics and gameplay, and the Dungeon & Dragon games made clever use of alternate path taking.

The Punisher doesn’t bring any new meat to the table, however it greatly compensates that with its state-of-the-art presentation and fun factor. The pixel art graphics contain tons of animation, massive characters, spectacular special effects and destructible scenery. The vast array of weapons, which can be used by both the enemies and the players, add a lot to the enjoyment and variation.

The only downside to the game is the fact that there is no arcade perfect home port available. A heavily cut down Genesis version is available, but given the standard of today’s technology a complete arcade version in our living rooms shouldn’t be too much to ask for, Capcom!

Sam & Max: Hit the Road – MS-DOS (1993)
During the golden age of graphic adventure video games, LucasArts gave us classics such as the originals The Secret of Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle. But they also handled adaptations with great care, such as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure, and, case in point, Sam & Max: Hit the Road.

The game stars an anthropomorphic dog and a “hyperkinetic rabbity thing” bearing the names of the title. Their mission is to find a missing bigfoot, which takes them to famous American tourist locations such as Mount Rushmore while searching.

The series creator Steve Purcell was a lead designer of the project, which used the SCUMM engine. In addition to the classic graphical adventure gameplay of finding and using items and clues, the game also has a few mini-games, which sometimes need to be completed to finish the game.

Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin – Genesis/Sega-CD (1991/1993)
Sega worked ferociously to gain licenses to sell their new 16-bit system in the early 90s. Sportsmen such as Arnold Palmer and musicians like Michael Jackson signed deals with the company, and so did comic giants Marvel, resulting in this gem.

Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin has an interesting mechanic: you can take photos of villains, and sell them to get more web fluid. And the amount of villains from the comics were plenty, Electro, Hobgoblin and Sandman make appearances, of which the last one needs to be taken care of with a fire hydrant.

The Sega-CD version saw many improvements over the original, with dozens of more levels, animated cutscenes, voice acting and a soundtrack from the rock band Mr. Big.

Turok: Dinosaur Hunter – Nintendo 64 (1997)
First Person Shooters have often gotten a bad rap throughout the years, having typical war settings with too much emphasis on battle. This is something you cannot blame Turok for, though.

Starring the time traveling Native American warrior Tal’Set, he must stop the evil Campaigner from putting his filthy hands on an artifact known as the Chronosepter, or the universe is doomed. To aid him in his quest, Tal’Set has 13 weapons available, and can also use the Chronosepter, of which one piece of it can be found on each level. The game often motivates the player to explore, for example keys must be found to unlock new areas.

Tintin in Tibet – SNES (1995)
Now, here is something special. Based on the album of the same name by Belgian cartoonist Hergé, Tintin in Tibet follows the plot with meticulous accuracy. Aided by plenty of panels, as well as graphics nearly identical to their source material, it really feels like you are playing the comic book.

The gameplay plays like a sidescrolling action game, with plenty of interactions with other characters, usage of items and precise navigation to overcome various obstacles, such a dogs and ladies with vacuum cleaners. It’s tough, but thankfully there is a password system at hand.

Staff Writer

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