The Games of Summer: Captain America and the Avengers

With Marvel’s The Avengers doing incredibly well at the box office ($529 million domestic and climbing), we felt it would be appropriate to point out a game based on the Marvel Comics franchise…even though it’s missing the likes of Thor and Hulk.  Still, Captain America and the Avengers, a 1991 release that came out from Data East (the company behind Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja and the awesome Robocop coin-op), is one of the better arcade brawlers out there.  And the Sega Genesis release that followed isn’t bad either.

The game revolves around four of the superheroes – Captain America, Hawkeye, Iron Man and the alien warrior Vision (who, by the way, does not appear in the film) – as they battle the army of the evil Red Skull, who is ready to overtake the world with his latest fiendish plot.  Over the course of the game, you’ll run into a variety of villains, including Juggernaut, Ultron, Crossbones, the Mandarin, and the Living Laser.  And along the way, you’ll receive assistance from fellow superheroes who provide some health-regaining energy, including Wasp and Wonderman.  (In pure cheesy arcade fashion, when they appear on the screen, Captain America says in a garbled voice, “Thank you, Wasp!” and “Thank you…Wonderman.”

Each character is able to punch and jump in traditional arcade fighter form, and they can also fire projectiles at enemies from a distance.  Captain America uses his shield, Hawkeye fires arrows, and Iron Man and Vision fire plasma beams.  These projectiles are seen more often in the game’s side-scrolling shooting stages, where you fly through the air and shoot down enemies and huge warships.  These add a bit of diversity to the game, unlike other beat-em-ups.

Obviously the best way to play Captain America and the Avengers is with friends, as the arcade game supports up to four players in action.  Watching these heroes fly over the screen is just as frenetic as watching the last 45 minutes of the Avengers film…well, okay, maybe not THAT action-packed, but it’s still fun.

For those of you who can’t find the arcade game, there is a fun little alternative with the Sega Genesis edition of the game, also produced by Data East.  Though that version only supports two players, it’s near arcade perfect, with great Genesis-style music, arcade-faithful visuals and fun gameplay.  Unfortunately, we can’t say the same for Mindscape’s dreadful SNES port of the game, featuring slippery gameplay and a somewhat unfinished presentation.  If you’re gonna play it at home, grab the Genesis one.

We’re somewhat startled that Marvel Comics never considered re-releasing this game for Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network with HD graphics in time for the movie’s release, especially since they didn’t have another game tie-in at the time.  Also taking into consideration that The Simpsons Arcade did really well for Konami just a few months beforehand.  But at least it exists in arcades and on the Genesis, and that certainly beats nothing.

So if you’re looking for breezy arcade fun that makes you feel like a superhero, Captain America and the Avengers is the way to go…even though we still have no idea what Vision is doing here.  Maybe the programmers couldn’t get Thor to work out the way they wanted.

See you next time for another Games of Summer! 

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Robert Workman
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