Tag Archives: wolverine

World of Final Fantasy Part 04

Chapter 11: Creatively Bankrupt
Initial Stream: 10/7/20



If you notice that some mirages have evolved between updates, it’s because evolving is boring and unfulfilling in this game, and we don’t need to watch that.

2:00 – We’re kicking this one off with some obscure/interesting The Bouncer facts, but what’s more important is that Rydia appears. … Okay, yeah, there might be some species of turtle that are more relevant than The Bouncer facts.

11:00 – Our dungeon du jour is a volcano named Valley Seven (which Rydia helpfully identified as our goal), and BEAT and fanboymaster have trust issues regarding GOG.

14:00 – There is always time to talk about Skies of Arcadia.

19:00 – There is never time to talk about Jabberjaw.

24:00 – After trying and failing to find what makes Final Fantasy dungeons distinctive, we settle on the main issue of World of Final Fantasy: The Sonic Mania Problem. Basically, WoFF has some interesting ideas, but it is shackled to continually rehashing stories that were more interesting in their original, less funko-based incarnations. This whole dungeon is basically “Rydia is afraid of fire”, but that beat played a lot better in the game where Rydia was a five year old, and you personally burned down her whole life. … Uh, Final Fantasy 4 makes sense in context.

30:00 – I am elated to learn there is a Munsters Wiki. BEAT is elated to learn how easily we can game the profanity filters.

34:00 – Rydia’s confession about being afraid of fire holds a little more oomph when you’re not already inside of a volcano.

37:00 – Head’s up, BEAT is hitting the rum.

45:00 – After discussion of Other World, possibly the least appropriate Final Fantasy song ever, it’s time for the boss of the area, Big ol’ Bomb. Go now, if you want it.

48:00 – Leviathan washes this chapter out with a fully-animated splash.

What actually happened in the plot: Rydia informs us there are two prophecies, Prophecy: Azure and Prophecy: Crimson, and they’re pretty similar, but have some key differences. For instance, you can only catch Meowth in Prophecy: Azure. Rydia leads us to Valley Seven to find the first key (that is apparently in both prophecies) and conquer her fear of fire… but the second goal doesn’t go too well. Fortunately, our peppy hero boy is able to give Rydia a sufficient pep(py) talk, so she quells a raging inferno. After our protagonists grab that all important key, Leviathan, possibly goaded by the mysterious Plumed Knight, summons a tidal wave to push the party off track. Additionally, that same knight kidnaps Rydia… but our “heroes” were too busy drowning to even notice that happened.

Chapter 12: It’s All Butt
Initial Stream: 10/7/20



1:00 – Frogs, Chu Chu Rocket, hoping to see Cid… You know how it goes.

6:00 – It’s Snow! Final Fantasy 13: Lightning Returns discussion happens. This is basically Snow of/pantomiming Final Fantasy 13-2: How Serah Got Her Groove Back if you’re curious, though.

8:00 – Prompted by the appearance of this game’s second Shiva (the first was not a lesbian motorcycle, but a schoolgirl back in Chapter 3), BEAT recounts some impressions relayed by Talking Time’s Shivam regarding Shiva. Anybody got a link to that? It’s probably only a hundred billion years old (in internet years).

12:00 – Audrey the Marlboro joins that party as BEAT references How to Make a Sprite Comic in 8 Easy Bits again. I am quickly learning that the entirety of BEAT’s knowledge of Final Fantasy comes from sprite comics and people who write sprite comics. This… might be okay.

17:00 – A special shout out to everyone that watches these streams, and then comments in the attendant chat. I have a hard time keeping up during the stream, but I always read everything afterwards, and it’s all good. In this case, fanboymaster relays that Zef managed to recall some of the worst interviews from FF13’s director. Let’s never consider the intricacies of Lightning’s chest again.

21:00 – Princess Flan totally originates from Final Fantasy 4, and, because I had to explain that, I’m not explaining this:


28:00 – Almost at the end of this soggy dungeon, and BEAT posits that no one has ever actually purchased a Funko Pop. Buddy, people are buying Funko Pops, and you don’t want to see the friggen Funko “walls” that are made of the lil’ packaging bricks.

32:00 – Our boss battle is against a giant flan, which is basically what Snow did in Final Fantasy 13-2. He didn’t do it well there, but he’s doing pretty alright here. Must be the lack of time traveling. Snow’s general age and deal is discussed in more detail here, too.

37:00 – BEAT would march through Hell for his wife, so he’s basically Snow. I don’t know how I feel about that.

What actually happened in the plot: Our duo washed up on the shore of some swamp. After uncursing a frog, they are joined by Snow, who wants to fight a “jiggly”. That jiggly is apparently a giant flan that occasionally menaces Snow’s hometown… so basically this entire chapter is assisting Snow in an extermination job. It’s a living. After defeating the flan, Snow heads on home, and our heroes walk forward to… somewhere.

Chapter 13: Lightning Returns
Initial Stream: 10/7/20



0:00 – We’re starting right where the last chapter left off, with a detailed conversation about Final Fantasy 13. And Star Fox Command. Look, they’re both surprisingly queer, and it’s up to the viewer to determine whether or not that’s deliberate.

7:00 – fanboymaster provides some additional information on Final Fantasy development histories. This info may explain why Kingdom Hearts 3 and Final Fantasy 15 were released last week, while Final Fantasy 13 was released seventeen billion years ago.

11:00 – There’s a bit of an inadvertent plot synopsis provided here. We’re currently trekking through The Phantom Sands, a desert that is fifty feet away from a marsh, which is one tidal wave away from a volcano.

14:00 – Cactuar! And it’s ours!

19:00 – Amingo is discussed in a looping desert where you have to follow cactuar statues… let’s move on to some Wolverine movie discussion. Not X-Men discussion, just Wolverine. This is very 90’s.

29:00 Let’s face a sandworm boss that has nothing to do with Final Fantasy 5, and compare our beloved cactuar to Minecraft Steve, who is back in the news for some reason.

32:00 – And Lightning appears to save our heroes. We get rescued by creatures that are little more than high functioning action figures pretty often.

37:00 – Edgar and Castle Figaro appear… so it’s time to discuss Hyrule Warriors again. We apparently have some evergreen interests. This time it’s marginally relevant to the plot! I swear!

What actually happened in the plot: After stopping by a desert oasis, the party ventured through The Phantom Sands until encountering a clutch of sandworms. Lightning rescued our hapless heroes, and they all regrouped at another, different oasis. They learn that the four keys are elemental-themed (duh, it’s Final Fantasy), but they also gulp down some spiked drinks, so they’re not prepared for the inevitable attack from a castle buried in the sand. The Plumed Knight appears, defeats Lightning, and then magically locks the twins’ gauntlets, leaving them more helpless (and hopeless!) than usual. King Edgar Roni Figaro sentences the powerless teens to rot in his castle’s basement.

Chapter 14: Rise of the Machines
Initial Stream: 10/7/20



2:20 – Guess we’re in prison now. Happens once every Final Fantasy game, so we were probably due. Zef notes deep voiced funko pops are… different.

5:00 – No Mirages/Monsters will be allowed for this chapter’s battles, but we do have (cheated) items to see us through… and then Smol Squall!

9:30 – Squall is going to be our guest for the chapter, so we discuss Final Fantasy 8, friendship lore, and NORG. My opinions on this matter are well established.

15:00 – While the party goes dumpster diving, we discuss Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie: The Song.

19:11- I have questions about this!


Is every guest FF character just using their own battle system when they appear? And if so, can I play that game?

20:00- Shelke of Dirge of Cerberus meets us at the start of the next chapter, which leads to our third “canon” party wipe (Second at the hands of a Final Fantasy guest character). We’re only starting this chapter so we can get to a save point now, because it’s getting late.

24:00 – But before we quit, let’s quickly make a stop back home… Hey why is there still a half hour in the video…

35:00 –Okay, which is cuter, a stack of Final Fantasy mascot monsters, or this guy?


45:00 – And here’s Rikku’s side story opposite a discussion on Cavia/Nier/Drakengard. Look, I really thought it would just be a quick thing here, but between rebalancing my monsters and side stories that apparently take ten minutes each, time marches on. Sorry! Maybe next time I’ll finish a little earlier!

What actually happened in the plot: The twins were tossed in a basement without their magical powers or the ability to command monsters. However, they were rescued by Smol Squall, who granted the kids the ability to command mechanical “monsters” to survive the chapter. Squall is working with SeeD and The League of S, and Edgar is apparently a double agent on the side of the angels, too. This whole “imprisoning” thing was a ploy to get our heroes down to the basement of Figaro so they could make their way to Mako Reactor #1 to free Figaro from Bahamutian control. Squall helps a little, but leaves in time to make way for Shelke, who unlocks the power of the gauntlets again. Now we can summon monsters and robots, so Figaro should be free by lunch time.

Also, there are many oblique references across this chapter to the fact that “mecha”-style monsters are not actually supposed to be in the World of Final Fantasy, and their presence is the result of some unknown “invading force”. I absolutely assure you that this will not end in another Goggle Bob Let’s Play that has overt, but “must never actually be named” ties to Xenogears. That would be silly.

FGC #494 Battletoads and Double Dragon: The Ultimate Team

It's time for teams!Now let’s talk about the infamous “Wolverine” style crossover.

You may be aware, but Wolverine is a particularly popular character from Marvel Comics’ X-Men. He was originally introduced as yet another thing/Canadian/person The Incredible Hulk could punch, but he joined the X-Men roster shortly thereafter, and his reputation rapidly escalated from there. People have been trying to nail down the source of Wolverine’s overabundant attractiveness practically since his debut in 1974, but no one (least of all Marvel) seems to have a clue as to what has made Wolverine one of the most essential comic book characters of the 20th century. Is it the readily accessible weapons? His tendency to not follow orders? The fact that he’s a grizzled old man palling around (and occasionally flirting) with teenagers? That mentor thing he had going with Jubilee and Kitty Pride? The cigars? Whatever the cause, Wolverine is popular. What’s more, it is known that Wolverine is popular. This ain’t no underground “you heard that Squirrel Girl is good?” situation, this is phoenix-fudging Wolverine, and he’s the king of the world. He had a movie. Or seventeen. Wolverine sells! And Wolverine can sell anything!

So it’s only natural that “Wolverine stops by” has become a comic book genre onto itself. If you’ve got a new Marvel comic book that needs a few more sales, summon Wolverine. He doesn’t need to actually do anything, and he doesn’t need to be on any more than one page, but as long as he can be part of the cover, you’re all set! Maybe you’ll get lucky! Maybe Wolverine will actually offer your hero/heroine advice and a few zingers before he wanders off to wherever Wolverines go when they’re not on camera (I’ve always assumed Wolverine used that infinite healing factor to successfully weather course after course at the Golden Corral), but don’t count on Wolverine lingering around for too long, because he’s a very busy mutant, bub. And this trait has now transcended genres, as Wolverine appears in other movies when the X-Men need their special guy to push a few more tickets. Stan Lee may have invented the cameo trick, and now Wolverine is Stan Lee. We’ve come full circle! So, don’t worry, if you need your character or franchise to be more popular, all you need is Wolverine. Put no more thought into the process than that. Just get Wolverine on the line!

But Wolverine apparently wasn’t available for a certain collection of battlin’ toads, so Billy and Jimmy Lee are going to have to put in an hour.

BLARG!Now, it is hard to believe in this our year of perfect vision, but back in 1993, Double Dragon was a hot franchise. There were three “main” Double Dragon titles on the NES, an arcade presence, a number of spin-offs available on things like handhelds, an animated series, and a movie on the way. You know who else could be described in that exact manner? Super Mario. Double Dragon was, in the videogame realm, on the exact same tier as Mario (give or take Captain Lou Albano). Nowadays, people barely can remember Bimmy and Jimmy exist, but back when the Battletoads were trying to make a splash, they were a hot commodity.

And make no mistake, Battletoads really wanted to be on that same popularity echelon. Battletoads had an unmistakable connection to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from their initial appearance, and many people took their general “irreverent” tone as a clear parody of the other fighting amphibians. But if you were to explore the Battletoads’ initial comic debut in Nintendo Power, you’d find that these heroes were 100% serious about being the next big thing with a very serious backstory for very serious fans. Zitz is really some nerd named Morgan that got stuck in a virtual reality machine that links to an actual reality! And then that premise was dropped (or at least ignored) for an animated series where the ‘toads are plucked out of another dimension to pal around our Oxnard, California and defend us from the Dark Queen with Looney Tunes-esque attacks. Pew pewDiC produced this animated Battletoads pilot, and then went no further. DiC also ran Street Sharks to a full series. That had to sting. The Battletoads needed something to put the franchise on the map, and Double Dragon seemed to fit the bill.

So this led to Battletoads and Double Dragon: The Ultimate Team… which is a particularly misleading title. Yes, the Battletoads and The Lee Brothers unite to fight a collection of allied opponents, but there’s no actual “team” involved behind the scenes. This is clearly a Rare joint, and a Battletoads game through and through. In fact, give or take the graphics involved, this title is little more than the original Battletoads game with seemingly random Double Dragon guest stars. There’s a speeder bike. There’s a vertical ropes course. There’s an inexplicable gameplay shift where you wind up playing Asteroids for some reason. The heavies of the Battletoads brand all return for boss battles, and the Double Dragon opponents… Well… That’s where it’s most obvious that this is a Battletoads game with special guest star Wolverine Double Dragon. What’s the tell?

Roper!
Willy – Double Dragon (Arcade) 1987
Roper!
Willy – Double Dragon 2 (Arcade) 1988
Roper!
Roper – Battletoads and Double Dragon: The Ultimate Team (NES) 1993

They couldn’t even get the Double Dragon’s main antagonist right. Okay… yes, the people behind Battletoads and Double Dragon: The Ultimate Team did correctly stick Abobo right there in the first level, and he has his proper ‘stache (depending on the port). But the boss of the third stage is “Roper”. Roper is the name of a generic mook in the Double Dragon franchise, and that ain’t him. This character, complete with his signature weapon, is most commonly referred to as “Machine Gun Willy” by the fans. According to the lore, his full name is Willy Mackey, and he’s the main antagonist of Double Dragon and Double Dragon 2 (give or take the wonky “interpretation” of the NES versions). He is the leader of the Black Warriors. He is the one that orders the kidnapping of Marian. He is the final boss of one Double Dragon arcade cabinet, and penultimate boss of another one.

And here he’s got the wrong name, and he’s the boss of the third level. Robo-Manus, the robot that is barely animated, earns a higher standing than Billy and Jimmy Lee’s greatest foe. And who is the “new” main antagonist that is capping off the Double Dragon side of this crossover? It’s “Shadow Boss”, a character that technically appears in no other Double Dragon game, but vaguely recalls the antagonist from the animated series. He also resembles a ripped version of Burnov, that one tubby guy with ill-fitting pants from the first level of Double Dragon 2.

Shadows!!
Burnov – Double Dragon 2 (Arcade) 1988
Shadows!!
Shadow Master – Double Dragon Animated Series / Double Dragon V 1993
Shadows!!
Shadow Boss – Battletoads and Double Dragon: The Ultimate Team (SNES) 1993

Dudes at Rare apparently didn’t feel like getting past the first, Abobo-based level of Double Dragon, and decided to wing it from there. Who’s this guy from the arcade intro with a gun? That’s probably Roper. Let’s go with that, and see if we can devote more pixels to rendering Dark Queen’s ass.

So, yes, it’s pretty clear this is a Battletoads game that suckered Double Dragon into shedding a few more popularity points. Did it work? Of course not. The Double Dragon movie bombed, the franchise floundered from there, and the Battletoads had already hitched their dingy to a sinking ship. One last Battletoads arcade game was released shortly thereafter, and then too did the Battletoads retire from gaming for decades. Double Dragon never brought Battletoads the fanbase they so desperately craved, and only the innovation of internet memes would ever get the ‘toads any attention.

This seems wrongsBut this humble crossover did at least try. It succeeded as a shining example of a Wolverine crossover. Double Dragon stopped by a Battletoads game, and that’s all the effort anyone wanted to put into this project. Excellent stealth Battletoads 2, Rare, and good try on attempting to boost your visibility with a more prominent franchise.

Just… maybe next time you should figure out who Wolverine actually is before you have him drop by…

FGC #494 Battletoads and Double Dragon: The Ultimate Team

  • System: This one got around. The NES and Gameboy versions are fairly impressive for their tiny bits, but the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis versions are where you see some pretty graphics. The Battletoads did know how to feature a little spectacle.
  • Number of players: Two. And you have your choice of all three Battletoads. This is the first game where that actually happened! But I suppose you should choose at least one Lee Brother…
  • Port-o-Call: Which version should you get? Well, the gameplay is miraculously pretty much exactly the same across all versions, so if that is your concern, don’t worry about it. From there, if you’ve got the option, you probably want the Super Nintendo version, as choosing the other 16-bit version will brand you a Sega Kid, and who has the fortitude to deal with such a moniker? Though, like Mortal Kombat, the Genesis version actually includes blood on defeated opponents’ portraits, so if you’re all about the violence, head over there.
  • Art Style: It’s important to note that the NES version of this title paints the Lee Brothers as a pair of really buff 80 year olds.
    They're twins!

    They’re coming to help just as soon as their grandson gets the wireless working!
  • Secret Truth: Willy probably got renamed to Roper thanks to his level including Battletoads repelling hijinks, thus earning the stage the title “Ropes and Roper”. Always go for the easy pun!
  • Did you know? The Nintendo Power comic that gave us the origin story of The Battletoads was written by a Rare employee, Guy Millar. The cartoon adaption was written by David Wise, someone who did not have any involvement in the production of the games, but did have the exact same name as the David Wise that composed the Battletoads videogame soundtrack. Weird.
  • Would I play again: This is an easier experience than Battletoads (1), but it also feels like the game runs out of steam somewhere around the fourth level. From about Level 5 on, it feels less like the eclectic action game of earlier levels, and it becomes little more than a rote beat ‘em up. So I’ll probably just play the original or the arcade game if I want a Battletoads experience. And it doesn’t even rank as a Double Dragon experience…

What’s next? What happens when a franchise crosses over with itself? Twice? Let’s find out! Please look forward to it!

Bad Queen

FGC #219 X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse

Here come the X-DorksThere has been an evolution in established property licensed games over the console generations.

In the beginning, the best we could hope for from the genre was a “random adventure” that did its best to get the character out the door and into your gaming console. Wolverine fought Magneto for some reason, Fester had his quest, and Batman generically battled Firefly. I’m not sure if it was the belief that videogames were a fad (so get your licensed property to generate some quick cash while you can), or simply that nobody had any idea what they were doing (Superman likes the Statue of Liberty, right?), but, ultimately, most licensed games of the NES era were fairly lacking in anything but “now you get to control a real life superhero (or Fester)”.

By the 16-bit era, we were at least getting plots that seemed more “built” for videogames. Spider-Man and the X-Men in Arcade’s Revenge is a terrible game, but its “Arcade built a brand new Murderworld” story adapts instantly to the eclectic stages you usually see in a SNES game. Similarly, X-Men for the Sega Genesis and its “malfunctioning Danger Room” allows for all sorts of interesting vistas from X-Men history, and also leaves room for a “real” plot (and some really confused X-Men). This was also the era that started to adapt current stories, so we saw a Justice League fighting game featuring exclusively Grant Morrison’s JLA, and The Death and Return of Superman: The Game. You too can finally play as an alien that is completely doomed!

WeeeeeThe Playstation hosted a fair few “random” licensed games (Spider-Man springs immediately to mind, and that Star Wars fighting game? Yeesh), but things were already starting to go in the direction of licensed games endorsing “something” in addition to just the featured licensed character. For instance, it’s often overlooked that the atrocious Superman 64 is based on Superman: The Animated Series. I suppose monolithic companies finally acknowledged that videogames were here to stay, and, if you’ve got a property to advertise, why not use videogames to do it? Why simply promote Spider-Man when you can promote Spider-Man: The Movie, Spider-Man: The Animated Series, or Spider-Man: Whatever Stupid Thing We’re Doing in the Comics This Week? Who knew Maximum Carnage was such a trendsetter?

This brings us to today’s featured game, X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse. XML2RoA is yet another X-Men videogame, and, at first blush, it appears to be another “random” X-Men adventure. This time, mutant maniac Apocalypse is trying to take over the world (well, he’s always trying to take over the world, just it’s not somebody else trying this week), and the X-Men and The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants must team up to put a stop to Apocalypse’s plan to steal the mutant powers of Jubilee or whatever the hell is going on. The main appeal of the game is that you may now play as a great many villains as well as the heroes, so Cyclops, Wolverine, and Jean Grey can fight alongside Magneto, Juggernaut, and Gambit (okay, he’s not a bad guy, but he is a bad guy). This is all pretty basic “X-Men stuff”, and, come to think of it, it wasn’t even the first time most of this roster had come together in one game (and where’s the petition to get Bishop in Marvel vs. Capcom?).

But the Nightcrawler’s in the details, so let’s look at the blatant “signs of the times” in this X-Men licensed game.

Ultimate X-Men

NerdsThis is probably the most anachronistic item for any modern X-Fan to see in this PS2/Xbox/Gamecube title. While it’s not as “in your face” as some of their appearances, it’s pretty clear that Marvel’s Ultimate X-Men are the featured heroes (and villains) of the game. Okay, I suppose there’s a lot of “original” (Uncanny?) X-Men DNA in the story, too, but that mainly seems to serve as an excuse to get some old school villains to plump up the boss roster. Everything else: the costumes, characterizations, and character’s general ages all seem to point to “this is the Marvel Ultimate Universe”.

This makes a lot of sense, as, at the time, Marvel was trying very hard to promote its new “Ultimate” line of comics, a shared universe where all the superheroes were “new”, and nobody was bogged down with a collective forty years of continuity. It was a good idea! Nobody wants to read another story where they have to be reminded Black Tom ever existed, so let’s reduce the Juggernaut that palled around with Dazzler for some reason back to his basic, “nothing stops the Juggernaut” form. The Ultimate Universe was a good idea, and we should be happy to see it immortalized here.

Because it ain’t around no more.

Marvel should have seen this coming: The Ultimate Universe was great at its outset because it wasn’t drowning in the continuity that had existed before most of the audience was born. But that didn’t last, because modern comics gather continuity snarls like Final Fantasy heroes horde megalixers. In no time at all, the Ultimate X-Men became an endless knot of nonsense where Cable was somehow Wolverine (but from the future), Beast had died and come back and died again, and Colossus was on drugs because his skin was too heavy. Also, an X-Man had cybersex with The Blob. You don’t come back from that.

So the Ultimate Marvel Universe had… I want to say there were three apocalypses. The first one was pretty floody and bloody, then Super Galactus ate New Jersey, and then the Ultimate Universe smashed into the Regular Universe. The Regular (616, nerds) Universe had better sales, so Ultimate ejected its Spider-Man and called it a day. No more Ultimate X-Men.

So it’s funny to be reminded they existed at all in this lil’ Marvel time capsule. Speaking of which…

Age of Apocalypse

Check out the tongue“Age of Apocalypse” was a 1995 X-Men Crossover “Summer Event”. The basic concept was that Professor X had been accidently murdered by a time traveler, and, whoops, that time traveler was his kid, so paradox time, son. The Marvel Timeline convulsed and reconfigured itself until a new universe was born where Apocalypse ruled the world, the X-Men were led by Magneto, and Cyclops was actually pretty cool (and appropriately named). This crossover only lasted a few months, but it left an indelible mark on the X-Men for years, as readers just plain liked a story where half the heroes were villains and pretty much everybody died. Jamie Madrox died like a hundred times!

So Marvel, never one to let a success rest, went back to that well again and again, usually reviving the Apocalypse universe (kinda literally) every two or three years or so. There was the time that AoA turned out to be bright and sunny outside of Apocalypse’s rule, there was the time it was so crappy that someone ate a baby, and there was an entire miniseries where all the mutants were humans and I think top hats could eat people or something. None of these revivals ever seemed to stick around for longer than a few issues, but why not try to milk a little more cash out of that one successful crossover from twenty years ago?

X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse isn’t a straight retelling of Age of Apocalypse by any means, but it is the annual excuse to use all your favorite AoA characters (like Sugarman! Everybody loves Sugarman!), and even pigeonhole a few good guys into their AoA bad guy roles (Hey, Beast, you’re evil now, don’t ask why). It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty clear that Marvel used this game as a way to remind everyone of that one thing they liked that one time. Kills time before releasing the movie a decade later.

And speaking of movies…

Special Guests: Deadpool and Iron Man (before they were famous)

Big scary dudeXML2:RoA was released three years before Iron Man, the movie that officially launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s possible that Iron Man was included in this game with that event in mind… but it was probably just an excuse to promote Marvel Ultimate Alliance (coming soon!). Iron Man winds up as a “hidden character” that must be unlocked through random scavenger hunt nonsense. I guess that’s appropriate, it’s not like he’s a mutant (most of the time). Similarly, Deadpool is unlocked after completing the game, and… yeah. Can you imagine saving Deadpool for a “hidden character” slot in today’s environment? He’s had more games than Cyclops at this point! And there was the best superhero movie of 2016 somewhere in there, too. You can’t stop the ‘pool!

But here are Iron Man and Deadpool, slumming it in the reserve section so you can play as such amazing X-stars as Sunfire, X-Man (PSP only, to be fair), and friggen Toad. Yes, I know Toad was in the X-Men movie of 2000, but he was also involved in the single worst line-read in cinema history, so I don’t think he should be involved in anything. Get Deadpool back in there! He has teleporting powers for some reason! Bodyslide by fun!

Let’s punch dinosaurs in the Savage Land

Oh, that’s perennial. Licensed games or no, some things are always going to be entertaining.

FGC #219 X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse

  • System: Playstation 2, Xbox, Gamecube, PC, PSP, and… N-Gage? Seriously? Okay. For the purpose of this review (“review”), I played the Gamecube version, which I bought initially because…
  • Number of players: Four! This game is basically Gauntlet with X-Men, and that’s a thing I never knew I needed so badly before X-Men Legends (1).
  • Think about itSo, got played a lot? So much. Everything is unlocked, and I think most of the characters are at some “max level” stats. This is mainly because my friends and I played this almost as much as Smash Bros (this is a lie, but the hyperbole rings true), and good times were had by all. Just watch it when someone chooses Nightcrawler while cackling loudly (full disclosure: I am that someone).
  • Favorite Character: I liked Deadpool before he was cool, dammit. Also, quick-run Professor Xavier is hilarious. Of the characters that are more easily available, I guess Juggernaut saw a lot of play, but that’s mainly thanks to a residual love for Marvel vs. Capcom 2.
  • Port-o-Call: The PSP version contained extra characters, like Cable, but made multiplayer more of a bear, so screw that noise. The PC version also included Pyro and Sabertooth… so I couldn’t care less. There was also a phone-based version of the game that was a beat ‘em up. That actually sounds like it might be interesting.
  • Did you know? The Age of Apocalypse version of Sunfire’s “costume” is still the best thing that ever happened to that character.
  • Would I play again? I have a lot of affection for this game, but, man is it rough to come back to after a decade of gaming innovations. I can barely read the HUD! Love ya, XML2:RoA, but I’ve got some modern X-ventures to play.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Mega Man X2! Or maybe he didn’t choose it, and I’m on a run of X-Mas games. Who can say? Anyway, please look forward to it!

AHH

FGC #174 Wolverine

Look at these nutsI don’t need to explain Wolverine. I don’t think I even need to explain Wolverine to my mom (the woman that looks at my Hellboy library editions and worries I may have joined a cult). Wolverine is, without question, the most popular X-Men character (non-Marrow bracket), and has not only appeared in every X-Men movie, he’s also had a fair few spin-offs. I’m pretty sure he had his own animated series in there, too. The odds of you reading this article (or even just being able to read) and not knowing of everyone’s favorite Canadian are so infinitesimally low, I’m disappointed in myself for even entertaining the notion of having a paragraph explaining the little mongrel.

Wolverine is friggen’ Wolverine. The end.

This was, to a point, even true in 1991. At that time, Wolverine hadn’t yet made his bub-laden splash on the X-Men animated series (to be released a year later), but Wolverine was still the most popular X-Men by a pretty significant margin. Like Mickey Mouse or Superman, I literally can’t remember when I first heard of Wolverine, but, somehow I already knew “that guy” by the time he had this solo adventure on the NES. Heck, he’d even already appeared two years earlier in (the abysmal) Uncanny X-Men for the NES. But, obviously, Wolverine’s original home was comic books, where he starred in an estimated twelve billion issues going all the way back to The Incredible Hulk #180. I still don’t completely understand the appeal (maybe it’s the hair?), but, somehow, Wolverine has become Canada’s most popular export over the last (nearly) half a century.

Now, you have any character running around for decades, and they’re going to pick up a few idiosyncrasies, particularly if they’re written NINJA!by Chris Claremont. Wolverine is, for instance, Canada’s first samurai. He’s also fought in every war that has ever been, somehow. He hung out with Captain America, Nick Fury, and Black Widow all before they were famous. He has hunted and eaten dinosaurs. I think at one point he wore a nightdress. It’s been a good (“good”) couple of years for Logan, and his claws have diced up everything from robots to aliens to Nazis.

So there’s a pile of material to draw from for X-Men’s most violent mutant. Videogames, particularly of the NES era, were all about running around and wrecking stuff, so Wolverine would be a perfect fit with his menagerie of monsters. Grab a few issues, slap something together, and Sabretooth’s your uncle, we’ve got a game on our hands. Easy peasy.

Wolverine for NES… I guess it tries.

The first level of Wolverine is straightforward, and pretty much what you might expect for “Wolverine 8-bit Adventure”. We’ve got a bunch of platforms to hop around, some random soldiers with guns, and Silver Surfer-looking dudes that disappear, reappear, and shoot energy blasts. Allowing for the silver creatures to be mini-sentinels (or at least generic robots), this is pretty much Wolverine’s world, albeit one with more of an Arcade bend. Wolverine is trapped in some kind of deadly, tailor-made environment, but that seemed to happen to every other hero of the NES era, so par for the course.

Then Level 2, Trial by Air, is straight up a Mega Man stage. I guess the implication is that you’re on the underside of an airship (which did happen in Wolverine & Canuckles 3… wait, that might not exist), but between the disappearing robots, tiny platforms, harsh winds, and friggen magnets pulling Wolverine in random directions, well, I wouldn’t be surprised if some platforms Blowin' me away!were to cause mouth vs. nose debates a few years later. Why not stick Wolverine on a SHIELD helicarrier, guys? He’s good at those!

Level 3 is Trial by Traps, and it’s a ninja castle. Awesome! Wolverine loves fighting ninja. The game itself doesn’t explain if this is The Hand, Silver Samurai’s hired swords, or just a house full o’ ninja that Wolverine decided had to go, but what’s important are the series of spike traps, guillotines, and dudes in all black tossing around shuriken. This is some amazing Wolverine: Wandering Ronin nonsense, and, honestly, why isn’t this the entire game? We had some good times with ninja in the 80’s, let’s keep that party rolling!

Level 4: Trial by Water kills the momentum and may as well simply be named “The Water Level”. Honestly, as these things go, it’s not absolutely terrible, and I suppose it kind of fits in with the Wolverine motif and themes. He can heal from anything, right? So drowning is a threat, right? I seem to recall Daken having issues with puddles. Only issue is that, for once in all of gaming, Sonic the Hedgehog’s underwater style would make a lot more sense than the typical paddle along, swimming stage. Wolverine has a skeleton made of super dense metal: shouldn’t the backstroke do exactly nothing? The lil’ hairy dude should be sinking faster than Titanic 2: Electric Boogaloo. Bah! Physics aside, though, this is basically a less deadly version of that one Battletoads stage, which, alright, it does make sense for Wolverine to face the same challenges as Battletoads. They’re practically the same characters.

Level 5 is where it goes straight off the rails. Trial by Terror… I don’t know where they got this stage, but it sure wasn’t out of a Wolverine comic. I’ll happily be proven wrong on this, but everything about this stage screams, “transplanted from generic NES game”. There are skull piles, WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING!?skeletons, slime creatures, and what appears to be some unholy mixture of Frankenstein’s Monster and something out of Plan 9 From Outer Space. There is nothing “Wolverine” about this, and… was there a Halloween issue somewhere? Something with Kitty Pride telling a story or something? I’m thinking not, and this was just an excuse to use a whole lot of skull assets.

Unfortunately, Level 5 also drained all the original ideas out of the game, so Level 6 is just “a cave, but on fire”. It’s hot, hot, hot!… and that’s about it. Try not to melt.

And then we’ve got Level 7 and 8, which are both basically remixes of the first level. “Into the Fortress” and “Defeat Magneto” both pick up the narrative that Magneto is out for blood (or metal?) and Wolverine has to infiltrate the malevolent (this week) mutant’s citadel. This means a lot of bottomless pits, spikes, and generic robots. Maybe the robots are being controlled by the Master of Magnetism? I don’t know. But at least we’re back on track for something that seems like a Wolverine game, albeit a fairly generic one. There aren’t any more slime monsters running around, at least.

Oh, and when you defeat Magneto, he just runs away like he forgot to turn the stove off.

Coward!

But that’s okay, because the villain behind everything is Sabretooth, Wolverine’s rival that, depending on the issue, is either marginally brain dead or a Machiavellian schemer that never fails to make Logan’s birthday memorable. I suppose the plot here is that he was responsible for all the tricks and traps (and skeletons?) throughout the game, and now it comes down to Wolverine to end the Sabretooth menace once and for all.

You’re… not going to do that.

The idea here is to push Sabretooth off the nearby cliff (because Sabretooth is invincible, natch. Did you think you’d kill him with some magical sword?), but the NES is really not capable of controlling the AI for such a feat. As a result, please enjoy punching Sabretooth forever, and then having the jerk jump back to square one the minute you accidentally whiff a single punch. If you somehow complete this mission without first running out of lives and continues, you’re rewarded with Sabretooth taking a header off a cliff (which has never killed a villain outside of a Disney movie), and Wolverine taking off his own mask. Thanks for playing!

Die monster!So that’s the entirety of Wolverine for the NES. Is it a Wolverine game? Well, the first and last levels seem to hit that bar, and Level 3’s Ninja Land couldn’t be more Wolverine if it stuck a redhead in there, but aside from that? We’ve got at least half the game that could be any game on the NES (particularly if that game was made by Capcom), and just happens to feature Marvel’s favorite son.

Is that a bad thing? I don’t have any answers on this one. Wolverine has gone through a few mutations of his own over the years, and if Wolverine NES was the next big thing, you better believe those adamantium claws would be slashing up generic gray robots for the next decade of comics. There’d be a crossover with Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, and you’d like it, because, hey, Wolverine is in this one.

Wolverine is immortal (except when he’s dead), and, whether he’s fighting Lady Deathstrike or “I don’t know, a fire stage?” he’s always going to be Wolverine. He’s the best at what he does, and what he does ain’t consistent.

FGC #174 Wolverine (NES)

  • System: This may surprise you, but Wolverine (NES) is a game for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
  • Number of players: Two player alternating. Now you can both be Wolverine! A shame this game predates X-23, because a purple palette swap with no other explanation would be boss.
  • Spooky Details: The haunted graveyard (or whatever) stage features coffins that read “Logan”. Has that ever been scary? Seeing “your” name on a gravestone? I feel like there have been a number of times this has appeared in various media, but it only ever really seems scary when Scrooge McDuck is involved.
  • Thirsty?Past the Censors: Wolverine recovers health by consuming hamburgers and… bottles? What’s in those bottles, Logan? Anything we impressionable children show know about?
  • Support Group: Jubilee and Psylocke appear in this game to offer advice and react to things. We’ve also got Havok, Scott’s brother, who can be summoned if you find like one hidden door in one stage early in the game. I missed him, and I’m going to assume he’s completely useless, just like all Summers brothers.
  • Did you know? Wolverine’s healing factor doesn’t seem to overtly help much throughout the game, as you’ve got limited lives, continues, and drawing the claws drains your health with every swing for some reason. But! Unusually for a NES game, you respawn almost exactly where you died after every defeat, so it’s kiiinda like immediately healing and coming back after every “death”. Kinda.
  • Would I play again: Probably not. It’s not a bad experience, but Wolverine offers nothing new, one way or another. It’s not like I don’t have other X-Men options.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Herc’s Adventures for the Playstation! Let us venture back to an Ancient Greece that featured a number of surprisingly present/pudgy gods. Please look forward to it!