Over Christmas, I got a copy of Batman: Return to Arkham for the PS4, remastered versions of the two Batman: Arkham games released for the previous console generation. As I installed Batman: Arkham Asylum, I looked at the rest of my game library. Batman: Arkham Knight. Batman – The Telltale Game. Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham.
Obviously, there’s a theme here. And why not? Batman is a wildly popular character and being just a guy who has to use his human skills to solve problems makes for compelling stories. But as the capabilities of video games advance, and more and more comic book characters seeping into the public consciousness, it’s shocking that Batman and his family are still the go-to when you have a wealth of a characters to choose from.
It’s not just the variety of characters, though. There’s also a wealth of game styles that can be explored with these characters. Sure, you can copy the Arkham formula with street-level heroes like Green Arrow, Blue Beetle, or The Question, but why limit yourself?
According to the website for WB Games Montreal, the developer is hiring with the goal of “expanding the DC Universe in the interactive space,” so maybe we’ll get some more variety over the next few years. Here’s a few games I’d like to see in the near future:
Unto every console generation, it seems, a mediocre Superman game is born. And as a lifelong fan of the character, it’s really upsetting. The last time I think I really enjoyed a Superman video game was The Death and Return of Superman for the Super Nintendo in 1994. To a lesser extent, there was Superman: Shadow of Apokolips, the 2002 game for the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo GameCube that was based on the animated series. Most Superman games have gone from bad to mediocre. And the less said about Superman 64 and those damned rings, the better.
The argument from many is that Superman, because he’s so powerful, is a boring hero and it’s too difficult to write a compelling story featuring him. The writers who say that are hacks, in my opinion. While Batman gets all the credit for having a great Rogues Gallery, Superman has a pretty wide variety of villains, too.
Featuring a few of these villains trying to put a stop to Superman while he tries to thwart a master plan could take the game in any number of directions: Mini-games and brains vs. brawn against Brainiac, Mr. Mxyzptlk or Master Jailer; battling giant robots created by Toyman, Metallo or Dabney Donovan; saving people in Metropolis from Conduit, Parasite or Silver Banshee; not to mention the big brawling battles with Mongul, Darkseid, Doomsday or General Zod. All with an overarching plot from Lex Luthor. Throw in training sessions with Steel, Supergirl, Superboy and Krypto, and you have the makings of an epic game.
A guy can dream, can’t he?
The final member of DC Comics’ Big Three characters has NEVER had her own solo video game adventures. She’s only ever been included in ensemble games like Justice League Task Force, Justice League Heroes or Injustice. With her history and mythology, it should be easy to create an adventure game around her.
I’ve frequently discussed my love for Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s New 52 Wonder Woman, which placed Diana within the world of Zeus, Ares, Apollo and the rest of the Greek gods. This would easily give way to a God of War-type game starring Wonder Woman and her world. Replace Kratos with Diana and let her run through the Greek gods and her own regular rogues like The Cheetah and… uh… Crap…
Regardless, with Wonder Woman’s solo film debut coming this June, it’s time to capitalize on it over as many media as possible, and a large-scale AAA game would be a perfect compliment to the character’s history.
Jack Kirby’s Fourth World
With all the weird concepts that sell video games (especially in Japan), the somewhat surreal aspects of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World creations should be a great game if you go whole hog with it.
The Fourth World tells of the epic struggle between the heroes of New Genesis, led by Highfather and the New Gods, and their mortal enemies on Apokolips, led by Darkseid. As Darkseid searches for the secrets of the Anti-Life Equation in order to rule the universe, the New Gods of New Genesis do what they can to thwart those plans, while the two worlds keep an uneasy truce to prevent all-out war. To ensure the truce stands, Highfather and Darkseid each traded a child to the other. Highfather sent Scott Free to Apokolips, where he trained to become the daring escape artist Mister Miracle and fell in love with Big Barda, one of Darkseid’s Furies. Darkseid gave his son, Orion, to New Genesis, where he was taught compassion and to control his violent, animalistic urges.
You can’t tell me this is any more convoluted than any number of JRPG games… In fact, a Fourth World game styled after Final Fantasy could probably be a great choice. The ability to explore the two worlds and a long play time would allow the story of the two factions to flesh out.
The Legion of Superheroes
A once-popular property that has fallen out of favor over the years thanks to confounding continuity issues, the Legion of Superheroes are a band of powerful teams inspired by Superman who joined together to fight bad guys in the 30th Century. The heroes came from planets throughout the galaxy and each had their own unique power that brought something special to the group.
With a membership in the dozens, game developers would have plenty of characters to choose from. And because each member of the Legion of Superheroes is supposed to have their own unique ability, a co-operative MMORPG where players need to find the right combination of abilities to get through a level would be a perfect gimmick for a game.
Sgt. Rock and Easy Company
Throughout the Silver Age, Sgt. Rock and his team of soldiers, known as Easy Company, represented a group of specialized soldiers who were sent out on missions in the European Theater, usually depicted as fighting in World War II. The team is basically a prototype of the 1980s version of GI Joe, with colorful characters given code names and bringing their skills together to defeat the enemy. Rock and Easy Company were a popular team for decades before army comics fell out of favor a bit with the start of the Bronze Age.
While Sgt. Rock hasn’t factored into the funny pages as much over the past couple of decades, the character has a lot of potential as military-based games like Call of Duty remain a popular genre for video games. A co-operative game where players control the various members of Easy Company to complete missions could utilize DC Comics’ vast history with army characters.