The games you didn’t know were based on comics


In an entertainment landscape saturated with superhero movies, games, theme park rides, and collectible action figures, it’s easy to assume that you know all the comic book stars who made their way into them. video games. After all, it’s a solid bet that you know where Spider-Man is coming from when you play Marvel’s Spider-Man.

But for some games, the lineage has not always been so clear. Game developers often look to comics and graphic novels for inspiration, and sometimes they look just a little below the surface to find their next big hit (or dud, in some cases). Here are some games unexpectedly inspired by comics.

ten XIII

A comparative collage of the cover of Ubisoft's 2003 shooter XIII and the

Ubisoft’s 2003 Shooter XIII stood out from the crowd with stunning cel-shading graphics that made the game look like a moving comic book. Heck, he still looks great today.

So it makes sense that the game is actually based on a comic book. It is adapted from a Belgian graphic novel of the same name, which follows a man with amnesia simply named XIII who is wanted by the FBI. The game’s sinuous, conspiratorial-heavy plot and sleek looks garnered enough cult following when it was originally released that the game was remastered last year. Unfortunately, it was a bit bad.


9 Duck tales

Capcom's DuckTales title screen for the NES, showing Scrooge McDuck smiling next to the game's title

Licensed games have a terrible reputation today, but in the late 1980s Capcom released a series of Disney licensed platform games that rank among the best games of their time. DuckTales is one of the best examples.

Its development team included several important members of the Mega Man team, which is why its gameplay and music is so sharp. It’s easily one of the best duck-based games … which is a weirdly competitive category. But despite being based on the DuckTales cartoon, the cartoon itself was inspired by artist Carl Banks’ Uncle Scrooge comic book series, which Disney began publishing in the 1950s.

8 Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game

Scott Pilgrim Vs The World The Game official video game art wallace, steven, kim, romana and knives

Okay, yes, if you’ve heard of the Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World movie, you’re probably at least familiar with the graphic novel series. However, you might not be aware that the bonding game is actually based on the comics and not the movie.

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This means the game characterizes Scott as a pretty cool slacker than Michael Cera. It works well, however, because the gameplay is side-scrolling arcade beat-em-up – and this version of Scott seems more than he can actually punch. The game has been out of circulation for years due to a licensing issue, but luckily it has recently been re-released on modern consoles.

seven Ragnarok online

A screenshot from Gravity Games' MMORPG Ragnarok Online, showing the player character hanging out in a cat village

Ragnarok Online was part of the MMORPG wave that gained traction in the early 2000s. It launched around the same time as classics like Final Fantasy 11, RuneScape, and MapleStory, among others. Its mix of polygonal environments and characters based on 2D sprites is delightfully retro and a bit cartoonish.

It might not come as a surprise, then, that the game was based on the South Korean manhwa Ragnarok series, by artist Lee Myung-jin. Ragnarok Online has completely eclipsed its source material, however, and the game is still active almost 20 years after its launch.

6 Red star

A comparison of The Red Star gameplay footage for the PS2 - showing characters fighting on a metal grid - and the cover art for the first issue of Christian Gossett's The Red Star comic book

The Red Star is another memorable title from the early 2000s, although it wasn’t as successful as Ragnarok Online. But despite its commercial failure, it’s actually a pretty solid game that combines side-scrolling brawls with hellish sequences and RPG-style leveling systems.

It also benefits from a unique setting, taking place in a near-future Soviet Union that has learned to use magic to defeat enemies. This frame comes from the comic book series of the same name by Christian Gossett, which gained popularity for its richly detailed illustrations. It’s a shame the game couldn’t replicate this achievement, but it’s worth playing if you can find a copy.

5 Turok

Shoot dinosaurs

Like The Red Star, the Turok series was originally developed by Acclaim Studios. Unlike The Red Star, however, Turok was a huge hit when it made its Nintendo 64 debut with Turok: Dinosaur Hunter in 1997.

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The game presents players as the titular time-traveling warrior, who is sent to defend the earth from the evil forces encroaching on the mysterious Lost Earth. It has been praised for its cutting edge graphics and has turned into a huge systems seller for the N64. However, its source material had been around for years before the game was released; The Turok comics debuted in 1954, meaning Turok shared store shelves with Scrooge McDuck. We would pay dearly for this crossover.

4 Sam and Max hit the road

A screenshot from Sam & Max Hit The Road by LucasArts, showing Sam and Max talking to a monkey outside a hostel

Sam & Max Hit The Road was one of LucasArts’ most beloved adventure games of enviable racing in the genre in the early 90s. It was the same period that produced classics like Maniac Mansion, The Secret Of Monkey Island and whatever Tim Schafer had his hands on. So why do Sam & Max stand out? In other words, it’s funny as hell. The game has the weird and colorful feel of an old-school Looney Tunes short, but with an added layer of grown-up humor.

This benefit comes directly from Steve Purcell’s Sam & Max comics, which debuted in the late 1980s. Despite the game’s success, LucasArts has moved away from adventure games over the years, so Purcell has ended up taking the characters elsewhere.

3 The wolf among us

The Wolf Among Us: Bigby Baring His Teeth

That was elsewhere at Telltale Games, the developers behind the Sam & Max Save The World sequels series. The success of this game paved the way for Telltale’s subsequent offerings, many of which were based on comics. One example is The Wolf Among Us.

The game – released in five episodes from 2013 to 2014 – is based on Bill Willingham’s Fable comics, which ran for over a decade and received critical acclaim. The game was equally popular, earning a reputation for being one of the best episodic games ever made, and a season two is currently in development at the recently relaunched Telltale.

2 Darkness

Key art from The Darkness by Starbreeze Studios, showing Jackie Estacado posing with arms crossed and The Darkness looming behind him

During the Xbox 360 era, first-person shooters were all over, and the developers reveled in finding exciting new ways to distort the genre. One of the most inventive games of the time was The Darkness by Starbreeze Studios, released in 2007. The game differentiated itself from the pack with some pretty weird ideas. You play as a gangster who, at the age of 21, is possessed by a manifestation of an ancient cosmic evil. This possession grants you incredible powers, but it also requires you to eat the hearts of your enemies in order to recharge your health. Which is pretty cool!

The game is based on the comic book character The Darkness, who shares a universe with the equally gruesome Spawn. They would probably have a lot to talk about.

1 Alien versus. Predator

A screenshot of Alien Vs. Predator for the Atari Jaguar, showing a human character loading a weapon as they face a Xenomorph

Finally, Alien Vs. Predator presents one of the most complicated comic book-to-video game adaptation stories of all time. Aliens against. The Predator comics are based on the Alien and Predator movies, which were separate franchises until the comics debuted in 1989. A movie based on the comics was quickly put into development and several games based on it. the series were to come out with the film. These included two side scrolls for the SNES and for the arcades (developed completely independently of each other) and the highly acclaimed first-person shooter for the Atari Jaguar.

The movie never came out, however, so we end up with a whole slew of games based on the comics… which are based on the movies. Everything old is new again.

NEXT: The Best Video Games Based On Comics

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