NOTE: ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON COMICBOOKMOVIE.COM 02/23/2013
Daredevil’s popularity had picked up immensely in the late 1990′s/early 2000′s. The comic was taken to new heights under the Marvel Knights label by writers like filmmaker Kevin Smith and Ultimate Spider-Man creator Brian Michael Bendis, and eventually the character would see a debut on the big screen in the 2003 film “Daredevil”. Of course where there is a film, 99% of the time there is a video game tie-in to follow.
Daredevil for GameBoy Advance launched on February 3rd 2003, 11 days before the film hit theaters from publisher Encore. The story of the game doesn’t follow that of the film, but uses the film versions of the characters (i.e uncostumed Bullseye and an African American Kingpin). The basic premise of the game is that the Kingpin has launched a smear campaign against Daredevil by letting it leak that the vigilante is now under his employ. Daredevil hits the streets to clear his name, but not without having to deal with others who think he has joined with his long time foe, setting up encounters with such classic characters as Elektra, Bullseye, Kirigi from the Hand and….Sewer King?
There is not a lot to talk about when it comes to Daredevil for the GBA. Basically it’s of the school of the Acclaim film tie-in’s that people loathed in the 1990’s. Daredevil has a limited move set: he can double jump, punch, jump kick and use his billy club by hitting the R button, but it is not as useful as fisticuffs. One of the power-up’s lets you throw the billy club as a projectile, but there is no way of knowing when you run out of this ability.
Collision detection is terrible when fighting enemies and it is often harder to beat regular enemies than the games bosses. When fighting the Sewer King, I stood still and punched until his power dropped and defeated the Kingpin using jump kicks alone. One of my personal rules for videogames is that a grappling hook makes anything better, but unfortunately there is no grappling to be found in this game, even though it is part of Daredevil’s arsenal.
Credit can be given to developer Griptonite games (who would go on to make some pretty decent superhero games like the Marvel Superhero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet and two Metroid-Vania Spider-Man’s for the Nintendo DS for trying to do something neat with the characters “radar sense”. Scattered throughout the levels are “DD” icons which can be collected to unlock things such as alternate costumes for certain characters and stills from the film. Every so often a series of concentric circles will appear around Daredevil’s head, indicating a hidden item. By pressing the L button, radar mode is entered and items normally invisible become visible. Not ground breaking by any means, but a nice addition in a rather mediocre game.
So much like the film it was released around, Daredevil the game doesn’t do the character any justice (get is, cause he’s a lawyer, ah forget it….). Daredevil hasn’t starred in any of his own games since this one, but has made appearances in other Marvel games such as the Ultimate Alliance series and Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects.
It’s worth mentioning that the GBA title was not the sole Daredevil game in development, just the only one to make it to shelves. A separate game was to launch for both the PS2 and Xbox consoles and had ads in various publications:
After numerous delays, the title was officially canceled in 2004. Eric Paulson, a chairman and CEO of the Navarre Corporation (the parent company of Encore), announced the cancellation of all console projects, which at the time consisted solely of the Daredevil game. No reason was given, but it can be assumed that the brand just wasn’t that valuable after the poor performance of the film, and who ever heard of Encore anyway?
There was some footage released of what the game may have looked like had it made it to publication: