Top 5 characters poorly represented in videogames
From super heroes to action stars, there are hundreds of characters we would all love to become in the videogame world. When we see our role models put into terrible games it hurts us as gamers, it hurts the image of the character and it embarrasses our hobby as a whole. Here are the five characters that I personally think have been short changed when brought into the videogame world.
One of the key conceits of a videogame is that you are more powerful and resilient than your enemies. In most games you can take thousands of bullets, fall huge distances and dispatch wave after wave of enemies over the course of a playthrough. Few games offer a more logical explanation of this than Robocop, where you play an armoured cyborg taking on a city full of very much unarmoured criminals. This isn’t the only reason Robocop is a perfect player avatar. He also has one of the greatest movie guns of all time. He exists in a hyper realistic future version of Detroit full of other robots, vicious kingpins and ultra violence. He walks slowly from place to place, wiping out waves of basic enemies before confronting larger, more dangerous “bosses”.
My love for the Robocop movies manifested at the same time as my love of videogames. After watching the movie I headed straight into the world of videogames to fulfill my Detroit policing fantasies. Although the original arcade version by Data East was an enjoyable, classic side scroller, nothing matched this early success. The sequel was a side scrolling platformer that penalised you for shooting certain enemies and had a bizarre, slidey inertia to Robocop’s movement. Most of your time was spent sliding through the levels to find the underground Nuke caches, many of which were in sewers and as a result were understandably even slidier.
The third Robocop game was even worse than the movie. Released by Ocean on PC, Amiga and Atari ST, it featured a truly bizarre FPS control system and terrible driving levels. Before we had Wolfenstein 3D, FPS games couldn’t really decide how mouse and keyboard controls should be done, but Robocop 3 was important in that it showed exactly how they SHOULDN’T be done.
None of this would prepare us for the awfulness of the most recent Robocop, released in 2003 by Titus software. Slow and incredibly ugly even for its time it was a generic FPS of the worst kind. When you wonder how consoles retained their bad reputation for FPS games for so long, it is games like this that caused such a poor reputation to persist. When this game was released the magazine Game Reactor said it was the worst game since Titus Software’s last release. Don’t worry, we’ll get to that soon.
While every other character on this list comes from outside the videogame world initially, how can I choose a character made famous by videogames as an entry on this list? Quite simply it’s because of the sheer volume of awful Sonic games created. No other character has such an unbalanced quality-to-shit ratio for their games. Sonic may have made his reputation from a series of great games, but this reputation has been steadily destroyed by a series of truly awful releases.
A quick glance at the list below shows the terrifying depths to which Sonic has plummeted since his 16 bit success:
Shadow the Hedgehog
Sonic the Hedgehog
Sonic and the Secret Rings
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games
Sonic and the Black Knight
Sonic the Hedgehog 4
Sonic Free Riders
If you’re wondering which are the bad ones from that list then you really are a glass-half-full kind of person aren’t you. Sure, Colours isn’t awful and Sonic 4 is, well I guess its kinda ok if……OH GOD!!! Just stop Sonic, just stop!
The worst entry from the list above is simply titled Sonic the Hedgehog, a franchise reboot so bad words do nothing to convey its awfulness. It’s like seeing a former war hero begging for change, reeking of urine and wearing no pants whilst saluting you because he’s so drunk and depressed his mind has escaped reality and he’s trying to pretend the last forty years of drug abuse, abortive suicide attempts and gentle sobbing into his hobo-dogs wet fur didn’t happened. Just look!
3. The Terminator(s)
In the same manner as Robocop, this should be a no brainer. A robotic killing machine sent back in time that simply will not stop until you are dead. Yes, lets fuckin go!
How hard is it to get this right? If you play as a Terminator you could have an unbelievable time. Tracking down the Sarah Connor’s and eliminating anyone who gets in your way. If we go beyond the first movie and look at the second then the potential for great gameplay mechanics increases exponentially. If you were able to take on the role of the T1000 you could be stealthily taking peoples identities one minute and skewering enemies like kebabs with your super-metal-stabby-power the next. The gameplay could be an open world game in the same vein as infamous or Prototype, or it could be more of a 3D Metroid-Vania title like Arkham Asylum. When the environments of the present day get dull then the action could be moved forward to the future where giant Hunter Killers sweep the ruined landscape of a post apocalyptic world and the whole game could become more of a Call of Duty combat game.
We have had no such excitement from the Terminator franchise. The earliest Terminator game was made, unbelievably, by Bethesda and was hugely ambitious for its time. It made the same mistake as most of its successors though. Who wants to play as Kyle Reese?
While Bethesda’s attempt was hamstrung by the technology of the day the later SNES and Megadrive (Genesis) versions had no such excuse. Basic but dull side scrollers were the order of the day with the player once again filling the role of Kyle Reece. In a world where a whole police force has no chance of stopping one Terminator, how does it make sense for the game to have you play a single human taking on an army of Terminators? The game was brutally hard and strangely paced. Early levels saw you play in the future world fighting legions of t-800’s while later levels had you face just one, albeit the Governator version.
The release of Terminator 2: Judgement Day saw the accompanying release of an arcade game which was ported to 16 bit consoles. The game was a lightgun shooter and was passable. Once again you played as a Terminator but did not get to see or use any of the special abilities or talents that a robot killing machine possesses. You may as well have been playing as Edward Furlong for all the difference it made.
It wasn’t until the more recent generations of hardware that the Terminator games started to really stink. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was a rush job (as movie franchise games usually are) and was worse than the movie. Following the commercial (but not critical) success of Enter the Matrix, the developers hoped that this third person action/first person shooter hybrid would achieve similar success. It did not. Creaky, buggy and unintentionally funny, this game was a mess. Arnie provided voice work on it and by contributing to such an obviously terrible product showed how much he really does hate videogames.
The most recent Terminator game (Salvation) could be the worst of the lot. In common with the movie it was a generic and dull effort created by a board of soulless money men to exploit affection for a formerly beloved but now creatively moribund franchise. The game was competent, but so creatively bankrupt and crushingly dull that its impossible to watch or play it without slipping into a slack-jawed, drooling coma. The only plus point: it was very, very short.
As the hyper-sexual and unrestrained ying to Batman’s controlled and authoritive yang, Catwoman has always been an essential ingredient in the Batman formula. Out with the auspices of the Dark Knight, Catwoman is an important and well developed character within the DC universe with some of her comics rating amongst the best ever written. The iconic Catwoman costume is as prevalent at Halloween as any other comic character and the feline thief is an inspiration for girl geeks looking for a strong female role model.
As a stealthy and well equipped thief there’s a huge number of gameplay scenarios that Catwoman could thrive in. Her agility and acrobatics could have her jumping and exploring environments while her whip, claws and martial arts skills could make combat engaging and varied. Her career as a high class thief would have her breaking into museums or the private collections of wealthy but corrupt millionaires and fighting guards as well as a whole pantheon of tough antagonists from the world of Gotham City. There’s even room for the anti-hero nature of Catwoman to play into a morality system with the player able to choose between mercy or callous slaughter of deserving male criminals and crooks.
Do we get any of that in the games featuring Catwoman? No we don’t. Instead, Catwoman has starred in very few videogames. In the average beat-em-up Batman Returns, she was an antagonist and the player fought her at the end of the game, despite such an event never occurring in the movie. To relegate the fantastic Michelle Pfeifer’s smouldering incarnation of Catwoman to such an inglorious end is criminal.
Worse though, when Catwoman had her own game it was an unmitigated disaster. Based on the deplorable movie starring Halle Berry, the game was as good as the source material. The player scrabbled around the floor and walls like a cut-price Spiderman. The animation was poor and the combat was bizarre with defeated enemies not killed but instead simply hanging around or running away comically. All of the worst aspects of the game came from the movie though. Killer make up? A female antagonist? A Cat god? Super cat powers? That costume? What were they thinking?!!
Lets hope the rumours of Catwoman in the new Arkham City game are true!
Poor Supes! Siegel and Shuster’s father of modern super heroes has never had a good game based on him despite his stature in the world of comics, movies and modern pop culture. It’s so bad it could be a scheme by Lex Luthor.
“Yes, I cannot defeat you in the real world Super Man, but I have a plan. I shall invest in software companies and make games based on you. These games shall be terrible! The fans will turn against you! You’re movies will perform poorly at the box office! People will come to prefer Batman! Mwuhahahahaha!!!”
Superman has appeared in a great number of videogames. There’s two problems with this. Firstly, there are no great games on this list. Secondly, there is one of the worst games of all time on this list. Superman’s been in a few decent games. The Death and Return of Superman is passable, and was made by Blizzard no less. The Superman arcade game was….it was alright I guess.
So how bad was this “worst game of all time”? It was released in 1999, it was on the N64 and it was simply called Superman. I am not a good enough word-smith to explain to you how bad this game is. I need to call in the expert. Check the video below from about 4 mins in:
Poor, poor Supes.
Well that about finishes up my list. I’m sure I missed some, let me know in the comments what your worthy inclusions would be and I might do another. Thanks for reading!