“With several stages, many boss fights, and interstitial portions, Captain America and the Avengers is a tough, meaty game, designed to provide a Marvelous (pun intended) experience. However, it certainly has its flaws…”
– from the full review, which you can read here.
I got to see The Avengers film opening night last night, and greatly enjoyed. I figured reviewing the NES video game would be an appropriate way to celebrate the occasion.
The late 1980’s/early 1990’s was both a great and strange time in video game history. The pertinent example here is that arcade cabinets were delivering dynamic, memorable experience that many now think of as what they consider to be the arcade experience. For a while, the king of the quarter-munchers was that genre where an ensemble cast of popular media license characters would take part in a multiplayer beat-’em-up, which usually was a mindless, repetitive, button-mashing, baddie-bashing good time for some player-friends. One popular example would be the Simpson’s arcade game.
Meanwhile, console companies were racing to not only bring these experiences into the convenience of home, but also at times just to try to shamelessly capitalize on the fleeting popularity of positive association with this experience. This phenomenon can be seen on the NES in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game, and now with Captain America and the Avengers; or at least somewhat, as this cannot really be considered a true port, as gameplay is drastically different. A similar, lesser example may be X-Men, which was a very similar arcade game to Avengers, but with an iteration on the NES that did it zero justice.
Interestingly (though perhaps only to me), the last NES game I gave three stars to was Shinobi, which plays more similarly than you may think at first, and suffers from a few of the same flaws.
Which is a shame, really: Properly executed, an Avengers game could have been super fun. What we have is a little too bogged-down to contend in the same ring with the Mega Mans and Bionic Commando: Punches execute too slowly, walking speed is not exactly quick enough, and forcing players to find the Exit as an item before being able to exit at the end of the stage just feels like a cheap move to pad gameplay time; the same could be said for the Red Alert zones, which strike me as a quirky challenge screen but ultimately pointless. Oh, and I feel like getting Captain America’s shield upgraded can actually be a disadvantage, since it greatly increases the length of time it takes to “reload” now that the darn thing has to fly all over the screen before returning to his grip.
One item I do not mention in the full review is the Battle Mode, which is actually two-player, with the first player controlling either Cap or Hawk and the second player controlling either Ultron or Wizard, who each can float, fly, and blast two projectiles at a time, all of which are abilities which would be awfully nice to have during the single-player campaign, but whatever. The Battle Mode, while limited in depth, is a fun little addition I am glad they put in, offering one of the closest things the NES would see to a fighting game (see also Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighter, the Clubbing event in Caveman Games, etc.), and good for a few minutes of pestering fun with a friend, complete with its own set of a handful of dedicated background graphics.
If you like the NES, give this game a shot. It is a great example of a side-scrolling platformer, a distinctive game that some may truly like and others may not care for. You simply will not know until you try it. I believe its reputation is a little worse than it deserves, but it is rightly criticized for some issues. Nonetheless, it can also be considered a “worthy challenge for true retro gamers” pick for those looking for a grueling playthrough.
NES Gameplay Tips For Captain America and the Avengers: Captain America is better. Just accept that fact and use him throughout the game. Switch to Hawkeye when you need to shoot an item capsule at the top of the screen. Otherwise, Cap is your man, and make judicial use of his dash attack and downward shield strike from midair.
Read The Full Review For: A basic overview of the game, commentary on its graphics, a link to the soundtrack, and the citation of a few of the flaws that bog this down into “unfulfilled potential” territory as an 8-bit video game.