Next-generation is here!
Join us as we break down, year by year, the big comic book video game news and releases on what is now “last gen.”
It wouldn’t take long for some big comic book video game news to arrive in 2015. In January came the announcement that developer TT Games was actively developing LEGO Marvel’s Avengers. While many had hoped for a follow-up to the brilliant LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, this was a welcome addition to the series. 2012’s Marvel’s The Avengers didn’t have any real tie-in title, and LEGO Marvel’s Avengers not only scratched that itch, but also would throw in the yet to be released Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron into the mix too.
As the year rolled on, more information would be revealed for LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, including that it would also have mini-stages devoted to other films like Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Marvel’s Iron Man 3 and Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World. It was also once again set to have an open world Manhattan to explore, as well as other hub areas like Tony Stark’s Malibu home and Washington D.C among others, all populated with familiar and new characters like Kamala Khan, AKA Ms. Marvel, and Black Panther.
TT Games also had a surprise for lovers of DC Comics when they announced another project they were working on: LEGO Dimensions. Similar to Disney Infinity, LEGO Dimensions applied the toys-to-life formula to the LEGO franchise, and while it didn’t have properties like Disney, Marvel, Pixar or Star Wars at its disposal, its starter pack would come with Batman and his Batmobile, Wildstyle from The LEGO Movie and Gandalf from Lord of the Rings. Additional characters and vehicles, sold separately of course, would come from popular brands like Ghostbusters, Doctor Who, and Back to the Future among many others.
Though in the same genre as Disney Infinity, LEGO Dimensions placed a larger emphasis on play both in and out of game. The toys stood on plastic pieces that could be read by a portal, but they could also be removed and played with. Packs also came with vehicles that needed to be assembled and players could unlock instructions in game to change them into completely different forms.
The portal itself was more than just a means to bring characters to life and was integrated into the game too. One ability for example would cause the portal to light up with different colors, requiring the player to maneuver their owned characters into the correct space to match the correct sequence. You would get more out of LEGO Dimensions with the more money you put into it, Wonder Woman and Cyborg from the DC Universe for example expanded your arsenal with new abilities like flight and silver brick destruction, but you could also access everything within the starter pack for no additional cost. LEGO Dimensions would be available on PS4 and Xbox One, but it would still come to last generation consoles and Wii U.
A cult favorite comic from the 90’s would also see a comeback in early 2015. Battle Chasers, a comic series created by Joe Madureira who ventured into video games and helped create the Darksiders franchise, was resuscitated as a crowd funded RPG by Airship Syndicate, a small team made up of Madureira and others from Vigil Games, the studio responsible for Darksiders which closed when publisher THQ went under. The team asked for $500,000 USD to produce the game but ended up collecting over $800,000 USD. What would become to known as Battle Chasers: Nightwar wouldn’t release until late 2017.
In the same month LEGO Dimensions was announced, April of 2014, Telltale dropped some big news when they made it public that they had entered into a deal with Marvel to produce a series based on one of their properties. Players wouldn’t get to experience Telltale’s first Marvel game for a few years, and it would be one of many announcements that the company would make throughout the year for their comic book portfolio.
In the summer of 2015, a new mini-series set in The Walkind Dead universe was unveiled putting the focus on the popular character Michonne. They would close out the year with a teaser trailer at The Game Awards for what would come to be known as Batman: The Telltale Series.
Speaking of Batman, Batman: Arkham Knight would finally arrive on the PS4 and Xbox One in the summer of 2015. It was a polarizing entry to the popular series with many disappointed by the reveal of the titular Arkham Knight, a character marketed as being wholly original who would up being a different take one already established, plus the overuse of the Batmobile, but it still received critical acclaim and served up a fitting conclusion to the Arkham saga.
Arkham Knight didn’t drop without its fair share of controversy, however. Before the game even launched, a Season Pass was made aware to the public that cost two-thirds of the game’s retail price: $60 USD for the base game and $40 USD for the Season Pass. There was a vague description of what players would get if they paid up and six-months of post release content were promised – including a prequel story from Arkham Origins developer WB Games Montreal titled Batgirl: A Matter of Family – but consumers had no idea of really knowing if the content was going to be worth the asking price.
While the game was a showcase of what the next-generation consoles could do, the PC port on the other hand, handled by Iron Galaxy Studios, had to be temporarily pulled from Steam due to the state in which it arrived in. Eventually it would return in a more respectable state, but it wouldn’t be the first game that would arrive to market in less than a complete state in this generation.
2015 would be a relatively quiet year for Marvel games, at least on dedicated consoles. The third version of Disney Infinity would be mostly themed around Star Wars, which had a resurgence of popularity with the release of The Force Awakens, with the major Marvel expansion not arriving until 2016. In the meantime, players could pick up the Hulkbuster Iron Man and Ultron figures who could be used in the Toy Box mode and expansion games, including a very fun Kart racer that had a Guardians of the Galaxy track.
Marvel’s large emphasis was in the mobile and free-to-play space, but one of those games, Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign, would make a surprise appearance on consoles in late 2015. Based on the Puzzle Quest franchise which blended a simple match-3 puzzle game with RPG elements, Dark Reign applied the formula to Marvel’s stable of characters and loosely retold the titular story in its campaign. Though the mobile version of the game evolved beyond that story with new characters and expansions, it was also full of pesky microtransactions. The console port, done by WayForward Technologies, only required a one time up front cost from the consumer. It also came to PS3 and Xbox 360.
The sole Marvel game that would be pressed on a disc would be a simple remaster of 2013’s Deadpool, a character action game from developer High Moon Studios best known for their work on the Transformers franchise, and publisher Activision. More than likely released to cash in on the character’s true cinematic debut in early 2016, Deadpool was a bare bones effort with an unjustifiably high price tag.
This would be the only X-Men universe game released on either the PS4 or Xbox One, sad given that there was at least one game with the team’s name in the title for each generation since the NES.
Come back where we venture into 2016 and say goodbye to a toys-to-life game, celebrate the return of a fighting game classic and witness the dawn of a new era for Spider-Man.