Insert Disk collects Captain America and the Avengers for the Sega Mega Drive / Sega Genesis.
Today’s retro game review is Captain America and the Avengers for the Sega Mega Drive / Sega Genesis. This retro gaming classic is a typical 90’s brawler from the Marvel universe. Team up as Captain America, Vision, Iron Man or Hawkeye to take down the evil Red Skull. In truth the game has aged quite badly in terms of graphics and sound but it does still offer those nostalgic feelings of a bygone era of 2D fighters.
Greetings collectors and welcome to today’s retro game review. It’s time to go full on Marvel today with Captain America and the Avengers for the Sega Mega Drive and Genesis. So to frame this one I am a fan of the Marvel as a whole. Since the creation on the modern Marvel Cinematic Universe (often referred to as the MCU) its been easier than ever to get in to the franchise with huge blockbusters of the Avengers, Spider-Man, X-Men, Guardians of the Galaxy and the many other characters that populate the MCU. Now since you’re watching an old school a gaming channel, I’m going to stick my neck out and predict that a fair number of you watching this episode are either a more casual viewer of franchise such as myself or one of those collectors that knows Marvel lore inside out.
Whilst I’ve seen all of the MCU movies to date, all the Sony produced Spider-Man movies and all of those post 2000 movies such as Dare Devil, Elektra, fantastic 4 etc. I do ask you to bear with me if I get some of the minute details incorrect. I’m most familiar with the Capcom Marvel related games so I’ll try to refer to the computing universe rather than the MCU if there’s any doubt. With that said, I do have the big book of all things Marvel on hand for research. As it says, it has absolutely everything you need to know… So, what’s it all about? In short Captain America and the Avengers is very much a generic comic to game adaptation of the core Captain America arc. Captain America assuming the lead of the Avengers against his sworn enemy the Red Skull.
In terms of execution the game is a typical 90’s brawler. Lots of bad guys to punch and throw stuff at. At the start of the game you can choose from 4 Avengers. Vision, Iron Man, Captain America and Hawkeye. First up is Vision. Now if you’re like me and mainly know Vision from the Age of Ultron movie you’re going to have to adapt to the comic book aesthetic of him in the game. The big book of Marvel informs us that he is a super synthezoid because well… science. Interestingly in the comic he does appear in a form very similar to the MCU but also as this alternate continuum silver version. Of course it’s a bit less work to colour a sprite white so it looks like the alternate version won out here. All of the characters have a range of punches, kicks and some variety of projectile. True to form Vision uses an energy beam from his forehead. Next up we have Iron Man. So here we have perhaps one of the modern fan favourites. When the Iron Man movies came out this was the point when I personally started paying attention to Marvel again. Again, if you’re a fan of the MCU you may notice that his 90’s game appearances are slightly different to what you may be used to. Having scanned through the big book of Marvel it’s clear that Iron Man’s appearance has changed subtly but many times of the years. I’ve landed on saying he’s wearing the “Iconic Armour” rather than the alternate earlier “Red and Yellow armour”. Either way, he looks very much as fans of the classic Iron Man fans would want. Iron Man has a range of punches, kicks and of course the iconic red power beams.
Captain America is very much as advertised. Again, if you’re one of the super hard-core fans you’ll notice that his costume could be anything from the 80’s to the late 90’s. Overall it’s a classic appearance. However, he does have one hell of a sun tan in the select screen looking far more like African American Nick Fury Jr. Not to be confused with Nick Fury Snr. Who is most definitely white. Although guess what, there is a continuum where Captain America is black so who knows. What I do know though is that Captain Americas shield is the best projectile weapon in the game as you can keep spamming it and it will hit enemies on the way out and returning so it’s a very useful weapon and makes Captain America the go to character of the game. Oh and there’s Captain Americas runty little sidekick Hawkeye but no-one really cares too much about in him in comics, movies of games alike. Couldn’t we have had Black Widow, the Hulk or Thor?… Stupid Hawkeye.
What fans will enjoy though is the inclusion of Red Skull. An appropriate bad guy for a Captain America led game. So, how does it play? Well, if I’m honest its average at best. The enemy character sprites appear really quite flat with as low as 4 colours. Compare this to Streets of Rage 2 on the same system and you would be forgiven for thinking that you were playing this on the Sega Master System. The general brawling is reasonable. It can get a little uninspiring at times as it’s very much rinse and repeat. Games such as Golden Axe just looked and played better. It’s a shame as there is a lot to enjoy about Captain America and the Avengers.
Certain levels break out in to a horizontal shooter style of game play. Again though this appears a bit uninspiring and as if to distract you from the main segments rather than be stand out epic moments in their own right. I can’t help but feel that Captain America looks like he’s riding some sort of futuristic mobility scooter. As you can see, there’s zero skill in these shooter levels. It’s just a case of rapid fire and the occasional dodge. There also seems to be the ability to have 4 shields on screen at any given time if you spam the throw key fast enough. The game does get the boss fights right. Now even the big book of Marvel struggles with detail on these characters. The boss fights tend to focus on typical pattern behaviour, once you know the boss pattern they are reasonably easy to exploit.
There’s some good variation in here though so this will be a fan pleaser for the more knowledgeable fans of the Marvel universe. There is some nice fan service in the game. Expect cameos from Wonderman, Quicksilver and Whirlwind. Perhaps a talking point though is the noticeable absence of female characters in the game. In general this seems to be an issue with 90’s Marvel. We do see this fairly-like character which I presume is Wasp. We have obscure characters like Whirlwind in here but very little in the way of female representation. Would it have killed the game developers to drop out Hawkeye and substitute in Black Widow? Stupid Hawkeye.
So, with the game obviously intended to appeal to fans is it worth collecting? The UK Sega Mega Drive edition of Captain America and the Avengers comes in the standard black plastic case but with some excellent front cover artwork as you might expect from a company that has made its living from well drawn action scenes. Prices here in the UK are incredibly unstable at the moment depending on when movies hit our screen. Anywhere from £15 to £30 is now normal for a complete in box edition. Although recently we’ve seen the manual alone sell for over £10. I can’t help but think this was a late night alcohol fuelled bidding war purchase.
In terms of collectability this title has kept its value quite well and with the seemingly never ending wave of Marvel movies in the pipeline its likely that the Marvel games as a whole will continue to find a home in many collections. In truth the game isn’t great. It’s a bit clunky, the graphics are below par compared to games of the same system and the sound is all over the place at times. Everything in here could have led to an excellent game but the small issues just build up to create a bit of an underwhelming experience.
For those without a vested interest in Marvel you’re going to struggle to enjoy this one for long playthroughs. When similar games such as the Turtles Hyperstone heist provided so much more polish to what is essentially a very similar game. The system could offer so much more than Captain America and the Avengers delivered. However, if you played this one in your youth there is always value in a trip down memory lane. The game is certainly playable and does reach out to the correct audience. Its certainly not my favourite Marvel game but it was a platform for the company to build on for later games to come. Rubbish Hawkeye… this is why you don’t get your own movie.