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.”
2016 started in a big way with the release of LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, the second Marvel outing from TT Games, that recounted the events of both Marvel Cinematic Universe Avengers movies plus bonus levels inspired by solo outings starring Captain America, Iron Man and Thor. It followed the formula established by LEGO Marvel Super Heroes – a series of levels that made up the campaign coupled with explorable, open world hub areas – and used voice clips from MCU actors to tell its story.
Following in the trend of LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, a Season Pass was available to purchase at an additional cost and featured levels that spotlighted future MCU stars like Black Panther, Captain Marvel and Doctor Strange. For the PlayStation family of systems, an exclusive level based on Marvel’s Ant-Man was a free bonus and hilariously narrated by actor Michael Peña. Close to the release of Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War, more complementary DLC was added to the game, this time for all players, which brought multiple iterations of Spider-Man into the game to celebrate the characters integration into the MCU.
Leaked in late 2015, Activision confirmed the existence of the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game for the PS4 and Xbox One in January also. Sub-titled Mutants in Manhattan and developed by the legendary PlatinumGames, makers of classics like Bayonetta and Vanquish among others, it seemed like this partnership would be a perfect fit. When the game released in May of that year however, it was clear that it was little more than a contract job for PlatinumGames as Mutants in Manhattan was mercifully brief and not up to the standards players expected from them. It also came to both PS3 and Xbox 360 and has become mostly forgotten.
Speaking of the return of classic franchises, developer Nightdive Studios would bring back the N64 classics Turok: Dinosaur Hunter and Turok 2: Seeds of Evil to the Xbox One platform in the first quarter of the year. Approaching five years later, neither have been released for the PlayStation 4, however a leaked trophy listing suggests they may be coming though nothing has been formally announced.
LEGO Dimensions wouldn’t get any major comic book expansions, but both Aquaman and Superman would be added to the game in early 2016 as playable characters. This is in stark contrast to Disney Infinity 3.0 which received a new expansion, Marvel Battlegrounds, a terrific arena fighter inspired by Capcom’s Power Stone, that came with a new Captain America figure. Other heroes like Ant-Man, Black Panther, Vision and a Black Suit Spider-Man variant that was once exclusive to the PS Vita release of Disney Infinity 2.0 were added to the game too.
Sadly, Disney would cancel Disney Infinity in May of 2016 not long after the release of Marvel Battlegrounds. Through reporters like Patrick Klepek, it became known that plans were already being drawn up for a fourth version of Disney Infinity prior to this. It would’ve included campaigns for Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 alongside deluxe 12-inch figures of popular characters like Hulk. It also became public knowledge that Doctor Strange and Ghost-Spider (Spider-Gwen) figures were also in the works.
Telltale had a busy year in the comic book space in 2016, releasing The Walking Dead: Michonne, a three-part mini-series starting in March that further fleshed out the popular character and impressed with some terrific fight choreography. They would close out the year with a continuation of Clementine’s story in The Walking Dead: A New Frontier where a somewhat older version of the character would play a supporting role to Javier Garcia and his family. This would continue throughout 2016 and help to set up the finale to The Walking Dead saga that would start in 2018. A New Frontier was also the first Telltale series not released on the last generation of consoles.
The biggest release from Telltale though went to Batman: The Telltale Series. Hot off of the conclusion of Rocksteady’s Dark Knight saga in 2015’s Batman: Arkham Knight, plus his polarizing appearance in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, there was no shortage of Batman multimedia to consume in 2016. But, with the right take on the material, Telltale proved with their Batman saga that you can freshen up even an over saturated character like Batman with a fresh angle.
Batman: The Telltale Series wasn’t the only digital Batman adventure released in 2016. Originally set to launch in July before getting delayed into October, Batman: Return to Arkham remastered both Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City in one package for the PS4 and Xbox One. Rocksteady would also return to the universe one last time with Batman: Arkham VR, a brief experience launched alongside Sony’s consumer priced PSVR headset. Set between Arkham City and Arkham Knight, Arkham VR truly let the player don the cowl of the Caped Crusader like no game before it. Batman would also make an appearance in the debut trailer for Injustice 2 in the summer of that year.
Though Disney would shutter the Disney Infinity line in 2016, it wouldn’t stop Marvel from having a big year and reaffirming themselves in the console space. Close to ten years after the release of Marvel Ultimate Alliance, it along with its sequel came back to PS4 and Xbox One as digital only releases. Upon launch however, both arrived in less than ideal state. Extra characters found in the “Gold Edition” release from the Xbox 360 were missing and achievements failed to work on the Xbox platform. These problems were eventually addressed in a patch, but sadly both are now no longer available for purchase.
In the fall of the year, developer Zen Studios and publisher Nighthawk Interactive would collect ten of Zen’s terrific Marvel Pinball tables into the compilation Marvel Pinball: Epic Collection Vol.1. This would get a release on both the PS4 and Xbox One, and throughout the generation, Zen would also produce other tables not included here based on other popular Marvel brands like Deadpool and Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.
At the Game Awards in December, Telltale would once again return to tease a new project: Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series, the title from their collaboration with Marvel that would begin in 2017 around the release of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. At a separate event, the 2016 PlayStation experience, a digital release of Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 for PlayStation 4 blindsided many, but not as much as the accompanying news: the premiere trailer for Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite.
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 would get a physical release in 2017 and also come to the Xbox One both physically and digitally.
However, there was perhaps no bigger comic book video game news in 2016 bigger than what would come in E3 of that year. Prior to the event, rumors began to emerge that Sony was going to unveil an exclusive Spider-Man game for the PlayStation 4, with the development studio expected to be Ghost of Tsushima creators Sucker Punch. During their showcase, the game that would come to be known as Marvel’s Spider-Man was shown off for the first time and met with thunderous applause. Sucker Punch wouldn’t be the one guiding Spider-Man’s digital future though as it was revealed that frequent Sony collaborator, Insomniac Games, creator of the Ratchet & Clank franchise, were responsible for development duties.
Join us next time for 2017 as Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite fumbles stumbles out the gate, Injustice 2 wows with its terrific campaign and LEGO Dimensions suffers the same fate as Disney Infinity.