The History of Hulk Video Games
The Incredible Hulk is perhaps one of the best-known comic book characters, but for some reason he’s not often considered one of the most popular. Despite first appearing in 1962, having several beloved comic book series, and appearing in a variety of TV shows and movies, the Hulk just isn’t as beloved as industry staples like Spider-Man and Batman. However, the Hulk is far from unknown to Marvel, and over the past two decades or so his popularity has steadily risen – although that has little to do with the character’s video game releases.
While the film directed by Ang Lee in 2003 Pontoon and the MCUs The Incredible Hulk introduced the character to modern audiences, it’s Mark Ruffalo’s iteration of the character that modern fans really grew fond of. Of The Avengers to Disney+ She-Hulk show, Ruffalo’s Hulk has become increasingly popular, and many fans would assume this would pave the way for more video game adaptations. However, that’s not quite the case, with only a handful of Hulk games released over the years, and only a few of them being of real quality.
The History of Standalone Hulk Games on Console and PC
The very first standalone Hulk game, i.e. the one in which he is the main playable character, dates back to 1984. Questprobe with Hulk. Developed by Adventure International, Questprobe with Hulk is a first graphical adventure game that sees the player controlling the Hulk via text inputs as he fights his way through the Chief Examiner’s underground laboratory. Release for the ZX Spectrum and other competing PC platforms, questprobe isn’t the most technically impressive game out there, but reviews at the time were pretty positive about the title, highly praising the game’s large, bright graphics, designed by Marvel artists themselves.
The next standalone Hulk game won’t be released for another decade, with The Incredible Hulk for the Sega Genesis and SNES in store in 1994. Developed by Probe Entertainment, The Incredible Hulk is a bit more what fans would expect from a first Hulk game, with a side-scrolling beat-em-up platformer. On their way to find and stop the leader, players will fight their way through a small variety of enemy units, using a handful of iconic Hulk moves to defeat them. The Incredible Hulk has a particularly interesting mechanic whereby if the Hulk’s health, or “gamma level”, drops below 5%, he will revert back to Bruce Banner, who can only use a pistol to defend himself. The Incredible Hulk received fairly mixed reviews, with reviewers praising the game’s variety of animations and attack moves, but criticizing the lack of enemy variety and stiff controls.
In 1997, Hulk debuted in the 3D video game landscape with the release of The Incredible Hulk: The Hall of Fame Saga for PlayStation and Sega Saturn. A third-person barebones beat-em-up, The Pantheon saga is widely considered one of the worst superhero video games, with incredibly repetitive gameplay, clunky controls, poor quality music, substandard character models, and bland environments.
2003 finally marks the beginning of a quality era for Hulk video games, with Pontoon, the tie-in game to the Ang Lee film of the same name released that year. Whereas Pontoon was yet another 3D beat-em-up, Radical Entertainment managed to put their own creative spin on things and ended up making a solid movie game with plenty of variation in gameplay and visuals. Pontoon was the first video game to truly show off the character’s destructive potential on a large scale, which Radical would go on to use in one of the most beloved Hulk games of all time.
The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction hit store shelves in 2005 and quickly became the best Hulk video game release of all time, with many fans still considering it to be the case now. Prioritize the freedom of the player, The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction allows players to move freely through a variety of large open environments, destroying buildings, vehicles, and structures along the way. Ultimate Destruction sets the bar for future Hulk games, showcasing all of his iconic moves and allowing players to get creative with how they destroyed the city.
One of the first Sega MCU games, The Incredible Hulk released in 2008 on PS2, PS3, Xbox 360, PC and Wii. Developed by Edge of Reality, The Incredible Hulk try to capture the magic of Ultimate Destruction, but doesn’t quite reach the same heights as its beloved predecessor. While the open-world destruction was solid enough, the game’s main story mode was not, with extreme repeats, boring boss fights, and weird difficulty spikes hampering the experience. 2008 The Incredible Hulk was the last standalone home console game for the Marvel hero, and in the current era of Teams, it doesn’t seem likely that fans will get another strictly Hulk game for quite some time.
Hulk’s History in Standalone Handheld Games
The Hulk has also appeared in a few handheld exclusive titles over the years, again with varying levels of success. The first of them, The Incredible Hulk, released in 2003 for the Game Boy Advance. Hulk is back for another beat-em-up here, but this time it’s from an isometric perspective. The Incredible Hulk for GBA is fairly simplistic, but its visuals are brilliant and detailed, and it has all the combat features fans might expect. The Incredible Hulk even has a “Hulkmatch” multiplayer mode where two players compete against each other.
The second standalone Hulk handheld game was in 2008 The Incredible Hulk for the Nintendo DS. While this game may have had the same cover art as its 2008 console counterpart, its gameplay couldn’t be more different. Unlike a third-person open-world action game, The Incredible Hulk on DS is a side-scrolling platformer, but with a unique twist. The Incredible Hulk encourages players to go through each level as fast as possible, while destroying as much of the environment as possible. This can lead to unique chaotic gameplay which looks quite impressive on the Nintendo handheld.
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