It’s pretty hard to believe just how mainstream Captain America is today.
Cap has always been a popular character, of course. Since he first showed up in Timely Comics’ Captain America Comics #1 way, way, way back in 1941, Cap has become an American icon. Along with Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Thor, Captain America seems to be bigger today than ever.
This is in large part thanks to the string of Marvel films we’ve had in the past decade.
Once upon a time, the only Cap-based movie we had was a shameful 1990 effort which bombed at the box office. Before that? There was a 1944 serial.
You can probably imagine how that was.
So, it’s 2016, and just eight short years after Iron Man kicked-off the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Cap has appeared in no less than five films as a main character (with the odd cameo here and there). Over the years, Captain America has also starred or featured in plenty of video games, with mixed results: some have been as fun, dynamic, and exciting as The Winter Soldier or The Avengers, while others veer closer to that cringe-worthy ‘90s flick.
Fancy a closer look at Captain America’s best video game appearances? Step right this way …
Captain America and The Avengers
Created by Data East, the brains behind the legendary Bad Dudes VS. Dragon Ninja, Captain America and The Avengers is as muscular as you’d expect.
This side-scrolling beat-em-up follows Cap and his titular buddies as they take down the Red Skull. Don’t fancy stepping into that star-spangled suit? No problem! Iron Man, Hawkeye, and the Vision are all up for grabs too. Each has their own special attack, but can you guess what Captain America’s is?
That’s right: the trusty old shield-toss.
Other heroes show up along the way, including fleet-footed Quicksilver, the Wasp, and Namor the Sub-Mariner (speaking of which, where’s his movie?). It’s fast-paced, ferocious fun from start to finish. After all, how bad can a game that lets Cap hurl a vending machine at marauding robots be?
Marvel Ultimate Alliance
This game is something of a dream come true for Marvel fans. While it’s not a masterpiece, it’s nonetheless a fun, deep adventure offering real value for money.
The game starts aboard the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, with no less than Captain America, Wolverine, Thor, and Spider-Man at your disposal. As the game progresses, you have the freedom to build your own super-team, which may or may not include Cap himself. But really, how can you resist including such a legend in your own group?
Captain America’s a joy to play as here. Not only does he look great zipping through levels, bashing robots and Skrulls, but using his shield is a real kick, too: once he lets it fly, you can guide it for a short while, taking foes and scenery out with flair.
Multiple alternative costumes can be unlocked, including his WWII-era outfit, which is as charming as you’d imagine.
Captain America: Super Soldier
Captain America: The First Avenger is a fun, action-packed film that manages to make Cap feel like a real, three-dimensional character you really root for. While tentpole movies generally receive a mobile tie-in today, console games were still par for the course in 2011.
Next Level Games were on tie-in duty for Captain America’s first MCU movie, and they did a great job: Super Soldier may not be a groundbreaker, but it’s a solid outing. One of the most impressive aspects? Just how muscular and satisfying the combat feels – Cap punches, kicks, and shield-bashes enemies with real panache. His animations are fluid, the shield’s incorporated well, and the visuals are a treat for the eyes.
If you missed this first time round, you could do a lot worse than picking this up on the cheap.
Marvel VS Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds
Pitting Marvel’s heroes and villains against Capcom’s roster of characters is a ludicrous idea, but it works beautifully. The third instalment in the series sees the likes of Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Deadpool, Magneto, the Hulk, She-Hulk, Phoenix, and many more battling against Chris Redfield, Albert Wesker, Ruy, Chun-Li, and a host of others.
It’s fast-paced, bizarre fun, culminating in a HUGE battle with the mighty Galactus. Captain America has rarely been as strong, fast, or downright badass as he is here – just check out how handy he is with that shield!
The three-on-three structure also lets you create your dream team. Fancy putting Cap on the front line alongside Deadpool and X-23? Want to see how he fares on the same side as a Sentinel and Viewtiful Joe? Well, this is the game for you, bub.
Marvel Super Heroes
This precursor to the Marvel VS Capcom series has the same look and feel, but without the likes of Ryu and Akuma popping up, it’s a more ‘pure’ Marvel experience.
Marvel Super Heroes is a loose adaptation of the fantastic The Infinity Gauntlet arc, so it’s even more relevant for fans of the MCU, in which the Infinity Stones (formerly ‘Gems’) play a huge role. Considering this game’s age, the graphics are still gorgeous, featuring big, chunky sprites and smooth animations. Backgrounds are also filled with detail and movement, which really helps to make the characters’ titanic showdowns feel all the more epic.
Cap has appeared as a playable character in a number of other games, but as we said earlier, not all of them are golden. However, he has made cameos in a some absolute gems, which are well worth checking out.
First and foremost, Cap shows up in Maximum Carnage, the popular ‘90s scrolling beat-em-up. While he’s just an assist character waiting in the wings to help, having Captain America (and a host of others) around helps to ground the game in the Marvel universe.
Next up? Neversoft’s unforgettable Spider-Man PS1 game from back in 2000. Anyone who played this masterpiece will remember Cap’s appearance at the end of the game, along with other characters like the Punisher and Daredevil. The final cut-scene is a stroke of genius, showing the latter heroes playing cards and generally just kicking back – it’s a cool, relaxed finale to a cool, relaxed game.
What’s the best or worst Captain America game you’ve ever played? Let us know!