Captain America in Video Games: A Retrospective

A look back at Cap's video game appearances

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By Ryan Penagos and Greg Draudt



The Marvel Universe, nay, the world at large, is in mourning after the death of Captain America. Gunned down in cold blood, the Sentinel of Liberty still had so much to give. With his flame extinguished in the comic world, we at Marvel.com wanted to carry his torch to shine the spotlight on Cap's appearances in video games, a medium he had far too few contributions. Or did he? Read on and explore the history of Captain America in video games, sorted chronologically with platform, developer and publisher info.



Captain America Defies The Doom Tube

Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64

1987; U.S. GOLD



1987, a time when 64K of memory for a computer was considered bountiful and Nintendo was in the midst of transforming the video game market. '87 also marks Captain America's debut into the video game world, appearing on a handful of early home computers--ancient and powerless compared to today's beasts. The game puts you in role of Captain America as you are given one hour to infiltrate Dr. Megalomann's desert headquarters--the Doom Tube--survive his nefarious traps, break lots of stuff with your shield, deactivate a world-threatening missile and save the planet from destruction. On the Fourth of July. A seemingly impossible task for anyone else, but luckily, you're Captain America.





Spider-Man and Captain America in Doctor Doom's Revenge

Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS, ZX Spectrum

1989; Paragon Software Corporation, Medalist International



Two years after bravely defying the Doom Tube, gamers once again picked up the stars, stripes and shield for this side-scrolling beat-'em-up. Players alternate between controlling Captain America and Spider-Man, utilizing an arsenal of punches and kicks and special powers (webs for Spidey, shield throw for Cap) to tear through a gauntlet of supervillains including Batroc, Boomerang, Rhino and Electro in order to get to Doctor Doom. In-game story panels (crude by today's standards, but these "cutscenes" did the trick back in the day) pushed the story forward, though the game came with an original comic tie-in, further elaborating on the plot.





Captain America and the Avengers

Arcade, Genesis, Game Gear, SNES, Game Boy 1991; Data East, Mindscape



"Avengers Assemble!" Were the first sense shattering sounds heard in this arcade classic, later ported to home consoles. A quarter-sucking, coin-op game of a time long forgotten in, where kids would line up at arcades everywhere to drop the entirety of their allowance for a measly hour of entertainment. And oh how fun it was! Very similar in style to the X-Men and TMNT arcade games, up to four people could play together in this brawl-for-all extravaganza, picking from the obligatory Captain America, Iron Man, Vision, and Hawkeye, as you battle through New York City, through the underwater realm of Atlantis, and eventually to the moon where you must thwart Red Skull in his nefarious plan to destroy the earth. Ok, so it's a little cliché, but the game was just solid fun.







Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage

Genesis and SNES

1994; Acclaim, Software Creations



Based on the storyarc of the same name that spanned across all the Spider-Man books, it was the first game to feature Carnage, a new villain Spidey had the pleasure to tangle with. But this is about Captain America, not Spider-Man. So what role did Cap play in this game? A very, very limited one. He was one of a handful of randomly appearing heroes that would lend their aid to Spider-Man and Venom. In Cap's case, he would throw his shield and often fail to hit anything. This is honestly a poor portrayal of Cap's prowess and an unfortunate scar on Cap's gaming resume. He deserved better than that.





Marvel Super Heroes

Arcade, Sega Saturn and Playstation

1995; Capcom



And what could be better deserved than a starring role in Marvel Super Heroes. With their widely successful Street Fighter series tearing it up at arcades worldwide, Capcom took their winning formula to the Marvel Universe. Following up on the stellar X-Men: Children of the Atom, Marvel Super Heroes uses the same type of gameplay, but eschews an all-X lineup for the likes of Spider-Man, Hulk, Iron Man and, of course, Captain America. The story was loosely based around the Infinity Gauntlet storyline, where during the course of the game, the heroes and villains would slug it out over for control of the Infinity Gems, and eventually confront Thanos in a cataclysmic battle that would determine the fate of the universe. This one, whether you're a Cap fan or not, is well worth the effort to track down.







Marvel Super Heroes: War of the Gems

SNES

1996, Capcom



The year after Marvel Super Heroes was unleashed to arcades, the Super NES got an exclusive title with a very similar name, Marvel Super Heroes: War of the Gems. Although this game shares the same premise as Marvel Super Heroes and both are produced by Capcom, it is not otherwise related to the arcade game. You can play as Spider-Man, Hulk, Wolverine, Captain America or Iron Man, but of course you're going to pick Cap. Side-scroll your way through various global locales, and even outer space, as you collect the Infinity Gems along the way to your final battle and give Thanos a sound thrashing.







Marvel Super Heroes Vs. Street Fighter

Arcade, Sega Saturn, Playstation

1997; Capcom



This game was a logical decision that was bound to happen; the best of two super-huge fighting games mashed into one. The Marvel Super Heroes and the Street Fighters must fight their way through Apocalypse and are then faced with a super-powered boss, Cyber Akuma. At this point, the Capcom fighting games sort of ceased to have a cohesive storyline and instead focused more on the fighting. But that's a good thing. Lack of story was definitely not a drawback, especially in a fast paced, action packed, arcade fighter. Plus, Cap's still a total badass in this game.







Marvel Vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes

Arcade, Dreamcast, Playstation

1998; Capcom/Virgin Interactive



Marvel VS. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes landed, with an explosion of wallet-emptying fury, onto the arcade scene, and of course the oh-so-fashionable Captain America was there to don the stars and stripes. From far away this game is essentially just an upgrade from Marvel Super Heroes Vs Street Fighter and there's no real story to speak of, save that you have to beat Onslaught at the end. However, there was just something about this game that was heavily appealing to fans everywhere, and it did feature a greater character roster, faster gameplay, and the ability to summon allies. During this game's reign, nearly all arcades were packed with swarming masses of bodies surrounding this game, waiting for a chance to play. Seriously, how could you not like this game?







Spider-Man

Dreamcast, Playstation, N64, Game Boy Color, PC, MAC

2000; Activision, Neversoft, Edge of Reality, Treyarch



When the first game to feature the wall crawler that gave the player the ability to web-swing in full 3-D splendor, aptly titled Spider-Man, was released, it would seem that there would be no room for Captain America with that glory hound Spider-Man in the way. Wrong! Captain America does pop in to say hello. In fact, he saves Spidey from certain death, helping him flee from an explosion, with his hovercar. Later on Captain America, Punisher, Spider-Man and Daredevil all sit down to a friendly game of cards. Not the most Cap-centric game, but a cool appearance nonetheless.




Marvel Vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes

Arcade, Dreamcast, PS2 and Xbox

2000, Capcom



Captain America was just one of the over 50 playable characters in the massive 2-D fighter. MvC2 allowed players to man a team of three characters that you could switch between at any time, or summon for some quick aid, with three special move options each. The game play was streamlined to make it more accessible to a greater range of players, while it maintained its speed and aggressiveness. The end boss was Abyss, which turned out to be a mysterious metal sphere. Upon his defeat, unlike every other Capcom fighting game up to this point, and probably the only real downside to the game, there is no character-specific ending sequence. The console versions offered tons of replay value with the ability to unlock more characters, new stages, and multiple costumes for each character.







Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects

PSP (versions for other consoles exist, but Cap is only available on PSP)

2005; EA, Nihilistic Software, EA Canada, Team Fusion



Captain America gets completely snubbed in all versions of this game except for the PSP. The game was never well-received, so Cap shouldn't really feel all that bad about being left out. The game supposedly took place within Marvel Universe continuity, pitching Captain America, Iron Man, Wolverine, Dr. Doom, Spider-Man and Venom against EA-created characters, the Imperfects. However, the Imperfects created for the game have yet to show up outside of the game and its tie-in mini-series.







Marvel Ultimate Alliance

PS2, PS3, PSP, Wii, Game Boy Advance, Xbox, Xbox360, PC

2006; Activision, Raven Software



Marvel Ultimate Alliance, arguably the greatest game featuring the Star-Spangled Avenger, has everything: up to four player online and cooperative play, special missions that give a nod to Marvel's history, the ability to make your own team, superb voice acting, tons of unlockables and power-ups, locations spanning across the universe, interactive environments and a killer plot leading to multiple endings depending on your decisions throughout the game.

The game begins when Nick Fury sends out a distress call and Captain America, Spider-Man, Thor, and Wolverine land on the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier to stop the new and improved Masters of Evil, put together by Dr. Doom. From there you beat the ever-lovin' snot out of everything in your way, including a whole host of Marvel supervillains and their henchmen, unlocking new characters and gaining new powers and abilities.

Captain America shines with superb powers and abilities and arguably the greatest weapon in the game: the shield! And as a bonus for Cap fans, his unlockable training mission pits the Sentinel of Liberty against the Winter Soldier. Awesome!

The game ends with Captain America telling Nick Fury that if the world ever needs him again, he'll be there. Despite Cap's recent murder, we have a feeling he'll be there.







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Marvel Trading Card Game

DS, PC, PSP

2007; Konami, Vicious Cycle Software



The latest game to feature, as Stephen Colbert so eloquently put it, "The American flag with rock-hard abs," Captain America finds himself immersed in a deluge of card battling action. Based on the collectible card game from Upper Deck Entertainment, the Marvel Trading Card Game brings to your fingertips the power of a thousand trading cards, all fitting conveniently in your pocket. It's out now on Sony's PSP, and slated for a release on Nintendo DS and PC sometime later this year. Check out some of these cards to see the whompin' Cap puts on his enemies.



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