Great comic book video games are often an oxymoron, and when a comic book game is great it is also usually incredibly hard to find and hella expensive. Then imagine my surprise then when browsing through a local game store I found a Marvel Super Nintendo game I had never heard of before. It was Marvel Super Heroes: War of the Gems, and after doing some research on the title I quickly bought the game and rushed back home to play it.
Marvel Super Heroes: War of the Gems was developed by Capcom and was also one of the last great games on the system, hence why I had never heard of it before. It came out two months after the launch of the N64 at the end of the SNES life cycle.
Without a doubt, this is a super hero game done right. Featuring five different heroes to choose from (Spiderman, Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, or Wolverine) each with radically different strengths, weaknesses and play styles, the game is a blast. Players go through side scrolling levels jumping between platforms and fighting evil doppelganger versions of Marvel Heroes in an attempt to acquire all of the lost Infinity Gems.
For those unfamiliar with Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet saga, let me bring you up to speed—you are going to need it as it is looking like Avengers 2 may have something to do with this storyline. There are six powerful gems, each with unique abilities that let the owner control the powers of essentially space and time. Thanos, the Mad Titan, decided he wanted all of them and kind of started ruining the universe to impress his “girlfriend” Lady Death. The game doesn’t follow this plot exactly, but players do have to fight Thanos and also get to use the gems to grant them additional powers.
In a great gameplay move that encourages strategy, players can play missions in any order and can choose from any of the six infinity gems once acquired to help boost in game power. The power gem makes your hero more powerful so that even fast but weaker characters such as Spiderman can bring the pain. Other gems, such as Reality, let you find hidden items in the game world. Players will find their own unique combinations of gems and heroes and finding the right gem for the mission adds depth to the game. Heroes each have their own set of special moves that are executed in Street Fighter like button commands, including an ultimate attack. Once a hero has been slain, you have to find an item to revive that hero. Unless you are really skilled, the game forces you to play all the heroes and learn their play styles as chances are your favorite hero will be defeated more than once.
If I have one major problem, it’s that the game is single player only. Cooperative play seems like a no brainer for this title, yet it is nowhere to be found. That being said, everything about this SNES classic is above average, from the music to the graphics and gameplay. The game runs a little expensive used (though not too expensive, about 20 or 30 bucks) but if you can find it for a good price and still play your SNES you can’t go wrong with this gem of a beat-em up.
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