Comic books, and their superheroes, are difficult to translate to video games. Even though they have often spoken to a similar market, and feature many of the same running themes, comic books have notoriously been bad on consoles. Of course, there are always exceptions, including Capcom’s recent string of fighting games, and Spider-Man for the original PlayStation, but by and large, comic book games suck.
Unfortunately, Midway’s newest comic book game, Justice League: Injustice for All
, is more like the classic blunders of the past. In fact, in many ways it’s almost an homage to the games that came before it. Problem is, that’s not necessarily a good thing.
In case you aren’t a comic book person, the Justice League is made up of a hodge-podge of slightly mismatched superheroes. We get crowd favorites like Superman and Batman, and a couple obscure heroes with notoriously bad names, Hawkgirl and Martian Manhunter spring to mind. The Flash, Wonder Woman, and the Green Lantern round out this gang of crime fighters.
Injustice for All is set up to allow players to choose which levels you’d like to play, and the order. In each stage you take two characters (of their choosing, not yours) into the enemy filled arenas. For example, you may take Superman and Hawkgirl over the skies of Metropolis, or Batman and the Flash through the streets of Gotham City.
Each city is controlled by a different evil figure, eventually weaving them together in one extremely large sinister plot. The story here is second rate, for the most part. It manages to offer that over-the-top dynamic that comic books are known for, but won’t win over any fans who are expecting a decent story. For the most part the levels are used as diversionary tactics, and in hindsight almost seem unimportant.
The game begins to unravel almost as quickly as it starts. The very first level, which takes Superman back to Metropolis, manages to resemble Taito’s 1988 Superman arcade game in just about every way. In fact, outside of a number of special attacks, this is almost exactly the same game. Superman employs the exact same moves he was using well over a decade ago, punches, flying moves, and an eye beam that I’m sure has a more sophisticated name than I’m giving it credit.
Having said that, Superman manages to control well, and flying around is a real asset when fighting goons. Actually, you don’t really notice how good flying is until you use a character that is bound by gravity. The moment you play as, say, Batman or the Flash, the game becomes a generic 2D sidescroller, hampered by poor controls, and terrible graphics.
Each of the characters have a couple of punching moves, and then a much more powerful charged attack. The game also manages to give each character a special ability, which is helpful, but also drains your “special” meter down. That’s about it for the controls, its pretty basic stuff, and doesn’t deviate far the tried and true theme.
Considering you are taking control of some of the most powerful superheroes of all time, it would be nice if you were able to perform more than one or two of their moves. You never really get the awe of playing your favorite hero, the limited play control just doesn’t cut it in this day and age. It’s simple things, too, like letting Batman climb with his ropes, or giving Superman the ability to blow the enemies down.
You also tend to take a lot of unfair hits. You can duck, but there is no attacking while you are ducking (must be the oversized suits). There is a jump attack, but it’s not very reliable if you’re actually trying to hit something. And if there are two enemies on screen, forget about it, you just don’t stand a chance. The controls in Justice League is frustration in just about every single way, and definitely makes it hard to enjoy.
Another problem seems to be the games graphics. I’ve certainly seen worse on Nintendo’s portable, but there’s just no excuse for this games boring visuals. Like CastleVania: Circle of the Moon, Justice League is especially dark, and terribly hard to see. In the outdoor levels this is not a problem, but the moment you enter Gotham City you will need to find a powerful light source, and fast.
The level designs actually work against the dark graphics. Often times you’ll find yourself trying to jump to ledges that are hard to see because they look exactly like the rest of the background. This frustration is compounded by the lack of interesting things to look at. While it appears you span a great amount of area in each level, it always looks like you’re stuck in the same place.
With poor control, terrible graphics, inane level designs, and very little replay, it’s hard to recommend Justice League. Even for fans of Superman or Batman, this game just does not exude their powers. Unfortunately, it’s on par with the rest of the superhero games, so you probably already know what to expect. You’re better off just looking for a used copy of Spider-Man vs. Venom: Separation Anxiety
Even if youâ€™re a huge comic book fan, you still may want to avoid this GameBoy Advance game. It may be enough to turn you against your favorite superhero.