Since that Konami X Men brawler game never saw a home port, Captain America and the Avengers for the Sega Genesis was a pretty good serviceable substitute. My brother and I constantly rented it from our local video store and would just have a good ol’ time!! something I never knew at the time was there was a SNES port of the game. I stumbled across this while in a gaming store out in Omaha and the memories flooded back. The garbled, but charming dialogue. The stage opening text crawls and panel pages of their comic book origin. Intense, but freakishly hard boss battles…and this is on the SNES, so it must be bigger and better!!! I asked the nice lad to grab it for me…and then he gave me a look that was a cocktail of disgust, bewilderment, and confusion. Hm, what was that about?
……Well, right off the bat, this game is impressively ridiculous. It looks like one of those generic-ass titles designed to launch a mascot, like Chuck Rock, Punky Skunk, or Radical Rex, were the character sprites have that over-glossy shine.
Beat’em ups felt better on Nintendo’s machine, so I am always legitimately surprised when the Genesis outclasses the competition. And this was Data East, they gave me Burger Time, Kid Niki, Karnov, and Two Crude Dudes (a sort of spinoff/sequel to Bad Dudes? I’ll get into that one in the near future), so what went wrong with the SNES port? Well, Data East gave the rights to Mindscape, a software publisher and developing company that mainly focused on educational-based entertainment and seldom put any attention directly into linear-style gaming. I assume Data East handed this to them while battling Capcom in a copyright case over Fighter’s History ripping off Street Fighter II, because the differences are stunning.
The Main Menu screens for both ports are cluttered in various degrees, but the Sega version put the heroes in more dynamic poses, whereas the SNES edition looks like each member of the team were cut and copied images from a different game altogether. What the hell is Hawkeye doing, is he a Quincy? You got to pull the bowstring, honey. Did you not see that because you weren’t wearing your BluBlockers from Avengers Assemble?
VISUALS AND ANIMATION 5.8/10: Like games akin to Maximum Carnage, the at does boast a comic book-styled palette, with word balloons that pop up to indicate damage, but the poor frame rate and speed just comes off so lifeless. you could generate more enthusiasm holding action figures in both your hands whacking them against each other. It’s one of the least impressive brawlers I’ve ever seen, and this is the same console that gave us the Final Fight series, Turtles In Time, Batman Returns, and Battletoads in Battlemaniacs! The sprites of the Avengers look decent enough, except for Vision, who is just a white glob of vaguely defined muscle, and Iron Man’s proton shots look like a power Mega Man felt better off without.
Nothing moves fluid in this game, it feels like the cartridge is always on the verge of breaking down. Your walking animation is barely three frames and you dart around so quickly, that standing still could keep you from getting hit as opposed to trying to avoid attacks! Some of the mid-boss characters can be pretty big, but are seldom animated, so it comes off looking like you’re fighting a giant float with one limb that kind of does stuff, mostly firing projectiles that move with little to no discernible pattern faster than your brain can react.
MUSIC & EFFECTS 6.5/10: This really does sound like the NES trying to make Sega Genesis noises. The music does have a triumphant fanfare about it and the tunes aren’t half bad, just not as cool without that gritty, metallic sound the Genesis emits. The punches don’t land or connect as convincing as the vibrant sound effect text would like me to believe.
That’s something you need to successfully key on for your beat’em up game, since all you will be doing is mashing the attack button constantly. It feels really good to pound away on bad guys when the attack sounds really satisfying, otherwise your game gets very dull. The enemies here routinely fall over with a pathetic “Aaaugh!!” if you so much as even walk past them, while the Avengers keep yelling “Nooo!!” every time they get hit. It’s grating on the nerves and gets old quick.
GAMEPLAY 4.8: As per brawler standards, walk to the right and punch anything that moves. Too bad there’s little fluidity or cohesion to anything you attempt to make contact with. The standard attack is nearly worthless since you’ll have to be standing inside of your enemy just to ensure you land a blow!! With the exception of Vision, who appears to be a bleeding giant by comparison, nobody has a decent attack range with their melee strikes.
The best course of action to stick to jumping and attacking. it keeps you out of the enemies’ range and when they gang up on you, you’ll just get knocked down a lot. Staying on the ground and using your projectile will help so as long as they don’t close the gap. Firing or throwing Cap’s shield will leave you as vulnerable as a canary in a room full of cats. Hawkeye’s punch is just plain horrible. I sat and tapped the punch button close to 200 times and tried to get a clue as to what he is supposed to be doing, because it’s the most awkward damn punch I’ve seen!
Keeping space between yourself and foes is not as easy as you think it would be. They can move just as fast as you can, add that to the fact that your special attack slows you down and that means they are technically faster! In Double Dragon, you were outnumbered, but were allowed to create some separation to, at the very least, implement a strategy because you can move faster than your opponent(s)! It would suck if Abobo could move as fast as Billy and Jimmy to go with his super strength, so why aren’t four super heroes allowed to get some henchmen off his back in a wide open space!? Do I need to be in an elevator to fight them off!?
In between the brawling stages are shoot’em up portions, as you heroes take to the sky and gun down enemies. This is totally different from mashing buttons while evading enemies that are moving way too fast! I’m not sure how you are supposed to not take damage here. Shackling a sub-mediocre SHMUP to this doesn’t improve matters, since your projectile (other than Cap’s shield) doesn’t reach across the screen. You can pick up Wasp as a power up and launch her at the mess ahead to deal some extra damage, but you are too big a target to avoid a great of the mess that’s flying everywhere!! I do really like how Hawkeye and Cap can’t fly and have to rely on these hover carts. I got some unintended comedy out of that visual.
IN CLOSING: It’s playable, but if you’ve never played the Genesis version, I strongly recommend setting this copy ablaze and finding it on eBay. This version is a choppy mess, and on a console that boasts better games of the same genre, it isn’t hard to find alternatives. I assume a great Captain America game would’ve been made if Spider Man and Batman didn’t hog all of the 16 bit era. OVERALL SCORE 4.5/10