Marvel Super Heroes: Sega Saturn

Marvel Super Heroes: Sega Saturn
Marvel Super Heroes: Sega Saturn

Insert Disk collects Marvel Super Heroes for the Sega Saturn.

Welcome to Part 6 of 11 of this Sega Saturn Capcom Fighting games mini series.

We will be taking a look at all of the major Capcom fighting game releases from Street Fighter, Marvel, Street Fighter Vs and Darkstalker series. These retro gaming classics form a large part of the Sega Saturn’s lasting appeal and of particular interest to collectors of Japanese Sega Saturn collectors.

Part 6 sees the launch of the Marvel Infinity War inspired game on the Sega Saturn with Marvel Super Heroes.

Greetings collectors and welcome to today’s retro game review. You join us in part 6 of the Sega Saturn Capcom Fighter Mini series. We’re taking a look back at Capcom’s fighting games for the Sega Saturn. Expect Street Fighter. Street Fighter Cross-overs. Marvel and Darkstaklers all battling it out on behalf of Capcom.

In the last episode we saw how Capcom were able to reveal Vampire Hunter on the Sega Saturn. With a steady stream of popular Street Fighter games, a niche Darkstalkers fan base and an acclaimed Marvel hit X-Men Children of the Atom it was time for Capcom to revisit their Marvel licence. The X-Men may form a significant part of Marvels best known characters but what about the rest? A spiritual successor to Children of the Atom was released in the form of Marvel Super Heroes. Today the full influence of this game is now being understood in a wider context. Whilst it’s fair to say that X-Men and Marvel in general were both mainstream brands they were still somewhat in the domain of the comic book and graphic novel fans.

In 1996 we all knew the headliners such as Spider-Man, The Hulk, Wolverine and Captain America. However, how many of us really knew the supporting cast of characters such as Shuma-Gorath unless you were a fan of the illustrated adventures? What Marvel Super Heroes did was engaging a slightly wider audience and bring us in to the Marvel universe in a digestible way. I’d always enjoyed the 80’s Spider-Man and Friends cartoon and the X-Men but I wouldn’t go as far as saying I was a fan. I was a follower of computer games and technology in general. In 1997 I’d be much more likely to be found upgrading my PC memory than reading a graphic novel. Marvel Super Heroes was the right game at the right time though. As you’ve probably guessed by now I’ve always enjoyed a decent Capcom fighter. With Marvel Super Heroes being announced somewhat as a sequel to Children of the Atom I was part of the prime target audience. Marvel Super Heroes took away that slight stigma of the typical nerdy comic book reader and made Marvel cool, mainstream and accessible. Why is this so important you might ask? Well, in many ways we have this game to thanks for the later interest in the Infinity War saga.

You see, the premise of the game is very much to collect the 6 infinity gems representing Power, Time, Space, Mind Soul and Reality. All with the aims of ensuring that the games villain Thanos does not get hold of them. Sound familiar? Well, that’s because it is. The game takes its central story from the 1992 comic from Marvel, Infinity War. This was the game that Capcom had been working towards, it was a culmination of bringing the X-Men and other Marvel characters together in a single fighter. Sort of an early unification of Marvel. This unification of Marvel would then later be echoed by a unification of Capcom in later console generations. History would repeat itself 21 years later with the 2018 blockbuster from Marvel: Infinity War. What had worked in the gaming world was sure to work on the big screen. Perhaps more about the movie another time but for now I’ll stick to the game.

Now, I’m not going to go in to a huge back story of Marvel but it is important to know that Marvel Super Heroes does come up short when it comes to being a cannon entry in the series. The Infinity War saga actually contains many unfeatured characters such as Alpha Flight, Daredevil, Deathlok, Doctor Strange, Fantastic Four, Guardians of the Galaxy, Moon Knight, Quasar, Silver Sable and The Wild Pack, Silver Surfer, Sleepwalker Wonder Man and plenty more that are absent within the game. As a note on this Marvel licenses have long been an issue to unify the Marvel universe. Big divisions such as the X-Men and the Fantastic 4 being lent to 20th Century Fox, Spider-Man being licenced to Sony whilst other characters remained with Marvel but then subsequently bought out by Disney. At the time of making this episode things are gradually getting back under one roof but it is taking time. So now you know why no-one’s in the X-Men School for gifted children when Deadpool visits. Anyway, this doesn’t really affect the game. Back in 1997 I had no idea who Groot or Dr Strange were so ignorance is bliss. It’s only in later years that an audience large enough to warrant this has emerged.

Marvel Super Heroes itself really builds upon the success of Children of the Atom. The same energy is there and the game looks and sounds absolutely beautiful. I hooked this up to my 42 LCD and can confirm that it still remains an excellent experience and really stays true to the arcade edition. As mentioned, during the fights you will be picking up Infinity Gems. Each has a different property such as increased attack and defence and can be saved and used strategically throughout the battles. Careful though as your opponent will also be collecting them.
The game play is very easy to get in to. It has the same unrealistic jumping as Children of the Atom yet seems to feel a bit more natural here. What I have here is the UK PAL edition of the game. Thankfully this game was released in the more expensive black plastic case format found later in the Saturn’s life cycle. It’s really solid and also features some top notch Marvel illustrations.

Inside you get a really well presented game disc along with the manual. The manual artwork is great and there are comic book style illustrations for each character and an associated move set. If I had one gripe it’s that the manual is black and white inside. A full colour edition would really have been appreciated by the fans. Marvel Super Heroes plays really well and remains an important game for collectors. Even more so than Children of the Atom, I think we can point to this game as directly influencing multiple games in the following years. The final show down with Thanos is very memorable and it was this game that made me notice Marvel and my first encounter with the Infinity War saga.

Marvel was not the only Capcom saga of 1997 though. 1996’s Street Fighter Zero 2 had now come and gone, it was 1997 and Capcom needed to remind us all that Street Fighter was still the champion of the arcades. At the same time though they wanted to re-establish their gaming legacy. That’s why The Street Fighter Collection featuring 3 games on 2 discs was issued. Were Capcom running out of ideas though and just repackaging old goods or was this an honest attempt to showcase their best work? Join me in the next episode as we examine The Street Fighter Collection.

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