Player Two Start: A Salute to Marvel Super Heroes

Here at Twinsanity, we sometimes like to pay tribute to things that we like, but don’t be deceived by what your about to read here. I don’t review video games. I’m not the Angry Video Game anything. There are already plenty of game reviewers out there, many of which are much better at that sort of thing than I could ever be. So no, this is not a game review. I’m merely taking this time to pay tribute to one of the most fun, and most underrated video games of all time: A little one-on-one fighter from Capcom known as Marvel Super Heroes.

Marvel Super Heroes made it’s arcade debut in 1995 and was released for the Playstation and the Sega Saturn in 1997. I played the game in the arcade and was downright giddy when the Playstation version of the game came out. While most of the gaming world has fully embraced Capcom’s later fighting titles such as Marvel VS Capcom and especially Marvel VS Capcom 2, MSH kind of got left behind in the dust afterward. Despite this, MSH remains one of my all time favorite games to this day. If you doubt me, just check out the awesomeness of the game’s opening cinema:

Anyone who hasn’t played this game yet, find a copy and play it now! You won’t regret it. One piece of advice, though: When searching for MSH, do not under any circumstances, confuse it with this title:

Super Nintendo Marvel Super Heroes War of the Gems Front Cover

This is not Marvel Super Heroes. This is Marvel Super Heroes: War of the Gems, a game for the Super Nintendo which is actually a retread of an earlier SNES title, X-Men Mutant Apocalypse, only with a slightly altered story and some different characters. Don’t get me wrong, Mutant Apocalypse is actually pretty fun, but if you rent or buy this game under the belief that you’re getting the arcade classic, you’ll be in for a disappointment. That said, on to the real MSH:

Marvel Super Heroes features 10 selectable characters; 6 super heroes — Spider Man, Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man, Wolverine and Psylocke– and 4 villains — Magneto, Juggernaut, Blackheart and Shuma Gorrath (the latter 2 I’ve never heard of before playing this game. Sorry, comic book fans!) In the Street Fighter tradition, there are also 2 bosses– Dr. Doom is a mid boss and Thanos is the final boss. My only complaint about the lineup is why we got Cap and Iron Man but no Thor? And why only 1 female character? There are too many good woman characters in the Marvel universe for this game to only have 1. Each character has the requisite set of personalized special moves and super moves, here called “Infinity Moves”, which are all quite cool.

However, MSH’s standout feature is the inclusion of the Infinity Gems.

In the comics, the Infinity Gems grant their user near god-like abilities that allow you to rule the universe faster than you can say “God-like egomaniac!”, but in the game, they just enhance your fighter’s abilities in a unique way: The Space Gem causes your character temporary invulnerability. The Power Gem causes your attacks to deal out much more damage. The Soul Gem slowly replenishes your life bar. The Time Gem speeds up you character. The Reality Gem gives your character projectiles, and the Mind Gem fills up the Infinity Bar faster so you can bust out with a super move. Generally, an Infinity Gem is tossed into the fray after the 1st attack of the match. The Gem will land in the middle of ring, so your opponent has a chance to get it as well. Each gem grants it’s user special powers (as if the likes of Juggernaut and Magneto need to be more powerful!), and certain gems grant particular abilities to specific characters. The Reality Gem causes Blackheart to turn invisible. The Power Gem gives Captain America shadow moves. The Soul Gem causes Iron Man’s hits to strike with electric shock, etc. This was a very unique and innovative touch to the world of fighting games and so I’m truly surprised that this experiment was never repeated. Also, this is a minor nitpick, but I have to wonder why Capcom felt it necessary to change 2 of the Infinity Gem’s colors for the game. The Time Gem is orange in the comics, but it’s magenta in the game, while the Reality Gem is yellow in the comics, but it’s orange in the game! Ultimately, this change doesn’t make any real difference but still, it strikes me as curious why 2 of the gem’s colors were changed, while the colors of the other 4 were left unchanged.

Anyway, Marvel Super Heroes was a superb title with fun game play and a surprising amount of re-play value despite it’s lack of secrets and unlockable characters (Supposedly, there’s a Game Genie code that allows to you play as Anita from the Darkstalkers games, but it never worked for me. Whenever I tried it, it would always freeze up after the VS screen).

It remains one of the great mysteries of the gaming universe why this game never got a sequel (and no, I don’t count Marvel Super Heroes VS Street Fighter. The Capcom “VS” games were a separate series and are not connected to MSH, at least not to me. Also, I had some criticisms about MSH vs SF’s lineup. Did we really need to have Captain America and Cyclops? The way that they played, they were practically 1 entity!). It would have been great to have gotten a Marvel Super Heroes 2, especially if the lineup had changed some and we could have gotten Thor, The Thing, Human Torch, Silver Surfer, Storm, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Firestar, Ms. Marvel or even She Hulk as playable characters. Nonetheless, Marvel Super Heroes was a great fighting title for it’s time and it still holds up now, and for this, MSH, we at Twinsanity salute you.


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