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Games And Comic Books: Do They Mix Well?

What about games inspired by comic book stories? Same like with movies: you can come across really good, and really bad products. The tendency is that the titles developed for mass audiences, and as part of the marketing strategies, usually turn out to be a total mess. There are, however, such productions that not only neatly capture and render the comic book’s style, but also are simply great games with good playability. Interestingly, usually it is the less mainstream comics that inspire the best gaming products.

XIII, a first-person shooter game released in 2003, makes a great example. The comic book it was based upon is a nearly twenty years younger Belgian detective story. The game was praised for excellent graphic design and interesting plot. Another very successful title - one probably even more popular than its comic book original by Steve Purcell - is the Sam & Max gaming series. Yet another group of rather loose adaptations of comic book stories which enjoyed considerable success is Aliens vs. Predators - although the latest releases stirred up some controversies among its fans.


If you go back to the era of 8-bit games, you will come across such great games as, e.g., Spy vs. Spy, a classic skill game inspired by a classic comic book, first released in 1961. These are, however, just a few honorable exceptions to a large number of sloppy mass-products, based on famous comic superheroes such as Batman, Superman, Spiderman or X-Men.

Lately, games inspired by comic books have been enjoying a revival in popularity. Take a look at titles like X-Men Origins: Wolverine (79% on or Batman: Arkham Asylum (92%), and its recent sequel, Batman: Arkham City (over 95%): these are all simply great games with high playability, superb graphics and climatic music. What is it the secret of their success


Superhero - selecting a suitable candidate is one of the key decisions the game developers have to make. The ideal hero should be a popular figure, preferably with a large fan base. 


Studio - picking the right developer is just as important as the the choice of superhero. High quality production is more likely to be created by an experienced company. Yet, one has to admit that, for instance, the creators of the latest Batman series are new in the business - although it should be noted that they had the support of Eidos Interactive studios, a major British video games publisher.


Budget - it is as simple as that: the larger financial resources, the more opportunities. X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Batman: Arkham Asylum were both inherently big-budget games. Thanks to that, both titles were not developed in a hurry scurry fashion, just to meet the deadline - and the outcome was fantastic.


Game genre - it is important that the game is custom-tailored to the main hero. Hard to imagine a Batman strategy game, right?


The plot - most of the comic book adaptations follow the original story. Still, some developers go the extra mile (hail to them for doing so!) and plan the plot in loose relation to the most known events within the familiar comic book worlds.

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