The 8 Best Non-Mainstream Comic Book Games

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

#8: Spawn: In the Demon’s Hand

Spawn has had some pretty terrible games in its lifespan, including Spawn: The Eternal on 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 an odd mash-up of Power Stone and Cannon Spike for the Dreamcast, which makes sense since Capcom created the whole thing. You can run and jump like in Power Stone, but the game itself has a lot more hell shooting aspects, akin to Cannon Spike. You sometimes find power-ups in the world, to boost your speed, health, or weapons for a short time, but that has nothing to do with weapon/item pickups in Power Stone. The normal game is kind of bullet hell stuff, but there’s a four-player Battle Royale mode, which is a lot like Power Stone, but not quite as fun.

#7: Snoopy vs. the Red Baron

Would you like to play Crimson Skies just with Snoopy and the gang? Well, I have a game for you! Snoopy is a good game but it’s a bit short. It’s a pretty standard dogfighting game, but it’s more accessible than some, given the Peanuts license. In fact, the real biggest problem with the game is the lack of multiplayer. The game was released in 2006, long after Crimson Skies, but CS had online multiplayer and Snoopy didn’t. Well, the PSP version had wireless multiplayer, but the PS2/PC version didn’t. It’s a cute little game, and it’s quite fun to see more Peanuts gangs in the WW1 setting.

#6: Turok: Dinosaur Hunter

It’s funny, there have been 6 Turok games in the lifetime of the franchise and only one of them, the first one, is actually based on dinosaur hunting. The first game, on the N64, obviously suffers from fog issues, it’s a way of trying to keep the framerate stable but you can only see 7 feet in front of you, but still, I love it. This game actually made dinosaurs a real threat but also provided you with lots of fun weapons to fight them. Additionally, the game had a pretty robust cheat system (hey, remember when cheats were a part of games?) that lets you mess around and have even more fun while you play, like giving you all the weapons or infinite ammo. The T-Rex in this game is still one of the most memorable fights one can have on the N64.

#5: Penny Arcade Adventures: Over the Rainy Precipice of Darkness

I’m only talking about the first two episodes and they were pretty cool. I really dug into the overall cel-shaded look and combat system of these two games. It was a mix of turn-based combat, but there was action stuff too, like you could boost your attack right before you hit. The humor/writing is fantastic as well, as you’d expect, as it’s actually written by Tycho/Gabe, so it feels like a comic book evolution. The only downside of the first two episodes is that some environments were a little limited but that’s about it.

#4: Aliens vs. Predator (Jaguar)

As with Spawn, most Aliens games are pretty dire. There are only three good Alien games: Isolation, Infestation, and finally Aliens vs. Predator. The catch is that there were actually three main Alien vs Predator games, all, ironically enough, made by the same developer, Rebellion Developments, but only the first, on the Atari Jaguar, was any good. Frankly, Alien vs Predator on Jaguar is by far the best game on the system. The game itself is a fairly old version of a survival game, each race/character had their own pros and cons. For example, the Alien cannot heal (the Predator and Marine can to limited degrees), but you can infect enemy soldiers. So when you die, boom, a new alien appears. Both the Marine and the Predator could use weapons but both had to find them and deal with ammo management. It’s still an awesome and scary game, even though it’s 28 years old.

#3: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Arcade)

Now, this game is obviously based on the cartoon of the time, but hey, the cartoon was based on the comics, so it still fits. Unlike later Turtles games, which had a clearer delineation between the actual turtles, here they all play the same. Turtles in Time had the idea that Donatello had longer range but was slower, while Raph was very fast but his sais were close range. This game, they were all the same and it was okay. He kept the intro from the cartoon, liked the series, especially for the intro, and also made the voice work.

#2: Sam and Max hit the road

So until I started writing this column, I legitimately didn’t know that Sam and Max were comic book characters. I thought someone at LucasArts just came up with the characters/plot and they made a game, but no. Sam & Max started out as a comic in 1987 and it wasn’t until 1993 that Hit the Road was released. I tried to play Hit the Road in the past, like when I was a teenager, but didn’t quite get it. I think the logic is too esoteric for me, or it just takes some weird leaps in logic to solve puzzles that I haven’t really understood. The reason it’s here and up is because I really enjoyed the overall look of the game, the voice work, and the humor of it. Also, Sam and Max are just an iconic duo and I still want to finish this game someday.

#1: Darkness

I will generally agree that The Darkness 2 is a better game. The gunplay is sharper, your dark powers are more useful, and it had a better leveling system. That said, I still enjoy The Darkness 1 more. The gunplay in Darkness 1 isn’t really bad at all, it’s just more deliberate, so it feels slower than a traditional FPS game, which is what I wanted Darkness 2. Darkness 1 also just committed more to the real first-person perspective, like the infamous dance scene, or letting you watch an entire 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 may play better but Darkness 1 is a more special game.

For comments, indicate which favorite games based on non-mainstream comics you like and why.

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