Son of a Pitch: A Mild Mannered Super Hero Game


Super-Sock em!






As I played that awful Batman Game y'all where talking about, a thought started to grow on me: Superheroes videogames still have room to grow.

Sure, we've outgrown summer movie license superhero games universally sucking. We're even past the time a videogame based on Batman just HAD to be terrible. But there's  still aspects of Superheroes that aren't being covered. This is a bit of a general pitch, but it could apply to any number of franchises out there. Or a new one.

First up: why aren't secret identities ever a factor in this games? Hardly ever does a new Superhero story begin in a new comic or a new movie already decked up his or her supersuit. This applies as equally to Batman Begins and Sailor Moon. And you know why? Because even the worst of super hero stories still need to be stories. With identifiable characters. And conflicts that aren't always physical.


But I guess videogames, that have been battling cancer stricken critics for the self imposed and illusory title of "art", can't be stories. They need to be actionous, right? Here, Spider-Man, go punch the Skulls gang so you can learn a lesson about responsibility.

Now, you may balk. What  kind of gameplay would being Peter Parker, or Bruce Wayne or Barry Allen entail? Well, the answer is already among us.


You could have like an adventure game, where you have to figure out how to manage to keep a "real" life while still having to kick the crap out of robots. The Secret Identity parts could be anything, from quick timer events to minigames, to pretty much an RPG type of thing.  The important part is that, instead of throwing players into a sequence of action events, you could get the player involved in the story, with supporting characters and love interests all playing a significantly higher role than expositionary NPCs.
No follow-through, there, web-head.

Picture a huge open city, where on one end is that date with Mary Jane, and on the other, and attack by Mysterio. It'd be like the Sims and  Shenmue all rolled up into one. Only you have to change out of view.

Speaking of which: as long as we're expanding the story, why not give the titular hero a choice of love interests? I mean, most of the known Superhero franchises have at least more than one, and romantic tension is one of those elements of Superheroing that is missing from all this games. You got your Gwen Stacy or your Mary Jane, your Lois or your Lana, your Catwoman or your Talia, your Steve Trevor or...mumblemumblemumbble.

Of course, it doesn't have to be all dates. You could investigate while on civilian mode, so  you can be more prepared to fight the threats. You could engineer better crimefighting tech, if it's Batman or Ironman.  You could maybe try and work as a typical newspaper.

Another avenue that isn't often explored is  choice. But I guess in Superhero games it's kind of hard to put in that "light side", dark side" bar you think I mean by "choice". No, what I mean is that, several of this characters have been through enough phases that you could easily assign them a type of reaction. Let's take Batman, trying to defeat a warehouse full of goons. You could have the "Ninja master of the night" approach. You could have the "drop out of a skylight"  and announce yourself approach. You could even have the "gun them down" approach.  Maybe each type of approach could earn you points towards being more Silver Age, or more current age or more Issue 1 Batman. This eventually morphing the  character or the world more to reflect that. Sort of like the original, crazy promises of Fable. 

I don't want all this to be misconstrued as saying I don't like  action superhero games. I do. But at the same time, with the focus on story that games like L.A. Noire and Heavy Rain have proven can actually move units, why can't we have something like that on other games? The superhero fantasy is more that just punching and huge chins and brass heavy orchestra. Surely such a project would take a lot to get right and on time and to sell. But if done right, it could be the greatest superhero game in history and up the bar.

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