Captain America and The Avengers
With Joss Whedon’s Marvel Avengers Assemble still fresh in our minds, why not take a look back at a game which brought Marvel’s titanic superteam to life in 16 bit form and made my personal Sega Mega Drive game collection that little bit more special?
The early 90’s didn’t have much in the way of kickass Avenger-ey things and, strangely enough, that soporific Captain America movie just didn’t cut it so you can imagine how much fun it was to play a game like Captain America & The Avengers.
This was an epic, relentless, arcade side-scroller with the choice of 4 classic characters, Marvel cameos aplenty and a good mix of villains to battle. I should mention that, really, out of the 4 characters to choose from: Captain America was clearly the safest bet with the boomerang shield action proving much more effective than any of the other weapons available. Vision and Iron Man’s attacks both feeling much too stiff in comparison. Hawkeye was fine but… arrows don’t make quite as much damage as a shield to the FACE.
The story? Pretty simple: having stolen some kind of “mind-control machine”, Red Skull has set out to lead an army of supervillains to destroy Earth with the use of some laser cannon set-up on the Moon. Why? Not clear on that… I’d say fun? Anyway, The Avengers are called in to put an end to that dastardly plan, yada yada yada. Can you imagine if that had been the plot of the film? I know. Pretty great, right?
Speaking of the supervillains or, I should say…
They include the likes of Whirlwind (laughs like a goat), The Sentinels (absurdly easy to beat), The Juggernaut (of Vinnie Jones fame), Grim Reaper (not that one) and, of course, Red Skull (absurdly hard). Getting through these guys is no picnic but it sure is an adventure worth embarking on.
You’ve got Double Dragon-style street levels where you get to fight and throw soda cans at robots (good luck with that), relatively straight-forward flying/sea levels during which Hawkeye and Captain America look like old people driving their little cars to the supermarket…
Actually one of the most fun things you can do is punch walls: it’s mindless but I could do that for hours. One level should have just been walls (this is why I’m not a game designer btw). Seriously though, the fist-fights in this game are loads of fun as are the “special” moves, when you can get them right. The Genesis is by far the most satisfying retro version of the game out there, it really feels urgent like something is actually at stake and time is running out.
That said, the SNES version improves the vocals radically (hilariously inaudible on the Genesis) as well as the comic strips in between levels. The characters also look more detailed and the music sounds more polished but I still prefer the rugged look and feel of the Genesis version, it just works better somehow. Even with its nonsensical dialogs.
Honourable mention goes to the Game Boy version which actually expands the levels, makes the game slightly less linear and is pretty adorable as a whole despite being a tad slow. There’s an NES version as well but it’s completely different opting for a more generic side-scroller instead of the sugar-rushed arcade mayhem of the other games. It’s not bad just… different.
Playing the Genesis version of the game today is still just as addictive as it was back then, sure everyone speaks like they’re chewing cake, but it doesn’t matter, this is one side-scroller you start and never look away from again until either your entire team has perished, you’ve somehow beaten Mecha Red Skull or your eyeballs have fallen out of their sockets.
It’s simply irresistible and, for me, remains one of the most reliable titles on the Genesis so quickly “assemble” 1 to 3 friends and give that one another go… or the Earth gets it.
I leave you with more inspired dialogs.
Oh no you di’n’t!