Batman v Superman is still breaking financial records and fanboy hearts this week (you can read our views on it here). This is, of course, only the latest example of heroes battling heroes as Daredevil and Punisher had their is showdown(s) earlier this month and Captain America versus Ironman is on the horizon. Apparently good versus evil is outdated; 2016 all about good guys battling good guys. These movies got us thinking about the times we’ve seen heroes battling heroes in the games we’ve played. Here are our three best and worst examples of heroes battling heroes.
THE BEST: Superman V Superman in Injustice: Gods Among Us
Mortal Kombat style games really aren’t our favorite, but we loved how Injustice didn’t back down from its premise of an Evil Superman. In the game, Superman’s taken over the world after a series of devastating losses and has to be deposed by the other heroes. As a casual comics reader, I kept anticipating that sooner or later Superman would revert to form or some other boss (i.e., Darkseid) would appear and necessitate Superman’s return to being a good guy. This didn’t happen; Superman breaks bad and stays bad. Better yet, this isn’t a game that indulges in the ridiculous notion that any of Earth’s other heroes could beat a Superman that was out for blood. Ultimately, the only one who can stop Superman is another Superman; here, Batman recruits an alternate reality Superman who saves the day by overpowering Evil Superman in the end. Much has been said about why Superman isn’t a great hero, but what this game shows us is that he has the makings for being a great villain.
THE WORST: Justice League V Superman in Lego
Lego DC 3: Beyond Gotham wasn’t the game we were hoping for. The game spent a lot of time focused on Green Lantern’s mythology and replaced the fun open worlds with more enclosed claustrophobic spaces. The tone of the whole game is somewhat off, most Lego games spoof their franchises but this one seems to actually be drawing from the Lego superhero cartoons for their source material. Thus, all of the characters are exceedingly childlike and Brainiac – in particular – is depicted in the game as a spoiled and irritating thief, rather than as a superintelligent artificial lifeform. The game ended on a particularly weak note as a mind-controlled and enlarged Superman battles the Justice League. An evil Superman should be a terrifying possibility, but here it’s treated as a silly final boss whom Batman overcomes by confessing their friendship. Lego games have had some great ending battles, but this one feels lifted directly from one of the Lego Superhero cartoons which even the most hardcore comic fan would skip.
THE WORST: Brother V Brother in Double Dragon
Double Dragon is a milestone in cooperative gameplay and one of the best arcade games of all time (heck I’d drop a quarter in it right now). The one thing we always hated about Double Dragon was how the game forced the two heroes to battle in the end. In the game, you and a buddy play two brothers who beat up an army of bad guys to rescue Marian. By the end of the game, you’ve beaten past an endless stream of villains, overpowered the machine gun wielding boss, and freed the kidnapped girl. In a bizarre twist, the game then forces you to fight your friend for her love because apparently she’ll just hookup with whomever wins. We used to take turns by bowing out at the end – which is also a little weird if you think about it – and we were grateful when subsequent games abandoned this practice. We get the desire to have the two players compete to establish who’s the best, but to spend the whole game working together only to have the final boss be your partner never felt right.
THE BEST: You V All Of Your Friends in Undertale
Undertale is a truly fascinating RPG. It’s told in beautiful retro-graphics, the characters you meet are memorable, and the best way to play the game is not to fight anyone. Instead, you try to discover what’s behind their motivations and overcome them without fighting them. Your pacifism is challenged at the end of the game, though, by the game’s antagonist, who first fights you in an amazing, fourth-wall shattering confrontation and then fights you again in the game’s true pacifist ending. In the second battle, your enemy has taken possession of all of your friends and sends them against you. You have to remind them of who they are to shake the spell and set them free before finishing off the villain. The final battle in Undertale is one of the best, most surprising final battles we’ve had in recent games and forcing you to face the friends you’ve found throughout the game was a great touch.
THE WORST: Batman V [REDACTED] in Arkham Knight
Much of Arkham Knight involves Batman facing off with another character who is often considered to be an important character and usually a hero in the DC universe. Batman battles this character several times in the game and in a variety of different ways. While most of the game’s suspense comes from Batman trying to catch this character; the battles themselves, however, wind up being some of the least interesting battles in the game (and are considerably less interesting than battles in other Arkham games). One sequence in particular involves you racing the Batmobile through some subterranean tunnels while your opponent chases you in a massive, nearly indestructible drill. It’s a ridiculous sequence that tries to incorporate the Batmobile but (much like the Deathstroke battle later) the inclusion of the Batmobile makes the battle much less interesting.
THE BEST: Raziel V Kain in Legacy of Kain: Defiance
Legacy of Kain: Defiance is a fantastic game that is criminally underappreciated and desperately in need of a sequel. In the game, you play as two characters who play very differently; Kain is a regal swordsman while Raziel moves and fights more like Nightcrawler. Eventually, the two characters encounter each other in the game and you play through the battle from one perspective – countering the other characters attacks that you’ve used the whole game – before switching mid-fight over to the other. It’s a great moment, just when you’ve figured out how to overcome the character you’ve been playing as for much of the game you switch over to the other character. The fight has a clear winner but the two heroes do eventually reconcile and work together despite the fact that they were – just moments before – battling to the death….hey, that’s kind of like a movie I just saw…..