There's no question the release of next summer's "The Avengers" film based on the Marvel Comics heroes will be one hot property, and in addition to filmgoers, brands companies will be lining up to get in on the action. At one point game publisher THQ was lined up to release a video game based on the comic book property, but development woes forced its cancellation -- though screenshots and game footage found their way onto the Internet soon after.
Even with that iteration of the game scrapped, Marvel maintains an "Avengers" game is in the works, according to what a rep told CBR News at New York Comic Con. However, they did not divulge what to expect from the game, nor who was working on it. In light of the mystery, CBR decided to take a few shots in the dark and guess who was working on it and what they could possibly bring to the multiple hero property. While a couple of these suggestions might be off base, until Marvel announces official details, anything is possible.
If you're going to produce a comic book-oriented video game, you want to make sure you have the right team behind it. Honestly, we cannot think of anyone doing that better at the moment than Rocksteady Games, developers of the groundbreaking "Batman: Arkham Asylum" and the recently released sequel "Batman: Arkham City." The team took great care to make sure every aspect of the game measured up, from the writing to the voice acting to the gameplay aspects. Everything from the smooth fighting mechanics to Batman's utility belt found proper use, meshing together for a pair of experiences that most comic book game developers can't come close to matching.
Can you imagine what these guys would do with the "Avengers" franchise? Picture a third-person free-world action/adventure where gamers can control any given member of the team (including Thor, Hawkeye, Captain America or Hulk) by switching between them, and then completing objectives ranging from bashing some Skrull heads to saving innocent civilians from the Red Skull? If Rocksteady put the same amount of concentration into this team as it did the Dark Knight, this game would be absolutely remarkable.
However, it's unlikely Rocksteady is involved with their current work on "Arkham City" DLC (including the recently released Nightwing pack) and the looming third chapter in the series.
A developer that works primarily on puzzle games... in charge of a comic book franchise? Why not. Look at what Gameloft did with Spider-Man on the iPhone and iPad platforms. Given the right creative push, PopCap could easily work its magic on Marvel's superheroes.
We're not suggesting a simplistic puzzle game either, though it would be interesting to see a "Peggle: Avengers Edition" using Iron Man, Captain America and other heroes for power-ups, rather than the animals that appear in previous editions. One cool idea is "Avengers vs. Zombies," a game where you put numerous members from the Marvel universe in battle against a horde of oncoming zombies. Sure, it sounds a little silly, but think about it. Each hero brings their special powers to the table, and you can enhance them over the course of each stage. There can even be guest appearances by zombified Marvel villains such as Magneto and Juggernaut. We'd kill to see a zombie Juggernaut.
Again, this is unlikely as PopCap is working its magic on its next big puzzle game, whatever it may be. But we can dream...
Capcom is no stranger to comic book-based fare having producing several Marvel-oriented fighting games over the years, with two released this year alone -- "Marvel vs. Capcom 3" and its supercharged sequel, "Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3," due later this month.
Something you might not know is that Capcom worked on a Super Nintendo game back in the day called "X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse." In that 16-bit title, you took control of various X-Men characters fighting their way through Magneto's army using special techniques and abilities suited to their needs. Why couldn't Capcom do that today with the Avengers? Just work that classic old-school magic (like they used in the more recent "Mega Man" downloadable games) and let players control Iron Man, Hawkeye and others through a variety of side-scrolling stages. Charge $10-$15 for it (with the opportunity to add additional characters via DLC) and you have magic in the making.
An Avengers-based fighting game wouldn't be bad either, but considering how huge the "Marvel vs. Capcom" universe has become, there isn't much need for it.
How about a role-playing game set in the Marvel Universe? We know Gazillion has something in the works, but we're thinking something more in the traditional role-playing sense and could easily recommend Square Enix for the job. After all, this is the same publisher that has perfected the art form of the RPG over the years, including its long running "Final Fantasy" series.
If you need a solid example of what Square can do with licensed characters, look no further than the "Kingdom Hearts" brand. Started years ago on the PlayStation 2, the first game managed to cross over a compelling, original story line with the Disney Universe, being careful not to alienate younger players but still providing the kind of action and excitement that hardcore fans have gotten used to. The end result was a huge success, leading to several sequels, including new games scheduled for 2012 on both the Nintendo 3DS and Sony PSP. There is no question Square could find a way to make a game based on the "Avengers" work just as well.
If anything, Epic Games has proven they definitely cater to fans of shooters, whether it's first-person fare ("Unreal Tournament") or awesome third-person action tour-de-forces (the "Gears of War" trilogy). They could easily take the helm of the first-person shooting concept THQ tried to grasp with its cancelled "Avengers" project and make it into something spectacular.
The possibilities are enticing -- shooting pulse blasts with Iron Man, throwing Mjolnir as Thor or pounding smashing an enemy into oblivion as the Hulk, then breaking away for a third-person view as they perform a finishing maneuver, similar to Marcus Fenix's Lancer attacks in "Gears" -- but obviously with less carnage. Epic could easily seize this formula and make it workable. More importantly, it could add multiplayer, letting friends either team up in co-op mode or go after each other in multiplayer to see who is the mightiest Avenger.
Hopefully Marvel will take this idea to heart and make something like this happen next May, but it may not be with Epic since they're hard at work on downloadable content for "Gears 3."
Kicking it Old School
Finally, we have some quick ideas about ways that Marvel can take its "Avengers" franchise back to the retro days of gaming, which not only alleviates development cost, but would garner an audience made of classic gamers and newcomers alike.
The first is Konami. The developer recently brought the old "X-Men" arcade game back on Xbox Live, PlayStation Network and iOS platforms, and could easily produce an "Avengers" game of a similar nature, letting players fight dozens of enemy droids before coming face to face with bosses like Loki and Red Skull. Price it at $15 and include online play and you'd have a winner.
The other choice is even simpler -- "Captain America and the Avengers." Data East released this arcade game 20 years ago, and it's since become a fan-favorite. Since coin-op reboots seem to be the trend these days (between re-releases of "X-Men" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"), why couldn't Marvel strike up a deal with Data East to bring this property back to the likes of Xbox Live and PlayStation Network? Add some online features, go with a $10 price tag and maybe replace Vision with Thor (to complete the team alongside Cap, Iron Man and Hawkeye -- though it's not completely necessary) and you have an instant hit. Make it happen, guys. Wasp will thank you.
Who would you like to see develop the Avengers game? Sound off on the forums and let us know!