Oh, if only the game was as epic as its cover
Hawkeye strikes a sexy pose in the heat of battle.
PUBLISHER: Data East
DEVELOPER: Data East
RELEASE DATE: December 1991
I’ve never understood the appeal of Captain America. Sure, during World War II, his existence made sense. He lent moral support to “the boys” overseas and made the women at home swoon. Unlike other comic book heroes who have grown with the times, though, I feel like Captain America is lost back in that tumultuous time. Does anyone really care about him anymore? I know there’s a movie that’s supposed to be coming out soon, and even it is being filmed in England. What does that say? The Avengers are still pretty sweet, but does Captain America need to be leading them? Important questions all, and I’m sure if I were a comic book nerd of the highest order, I could pretend to know what I’m talking about and answer them. As it stands, I’m an NES nerd, so said questions will remain rhetorical.
In the game, Captain America and Hawkeye are out to save Iron Man and the Vision from the clutches of Mandarin and the Red Skull. What this amounts to – besides just being your typical comic book plot – is that you can only play as Hawkeye or Captain America during the game. This makes the title feel like a rip-off – I want Captain America and the Avengers, not Captain America and Hawkeye his Robin-esque sidekick. I know this is a port of the arcade game – one of the few arcade brawlers I disliked as a child – but other four-player arcade ports like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II managed to include all four turtles, so what the fuss, Data East. This might sound like a paltry complaint, but it really is annoying to only be able to play as two characters.
The game itself is standard Contra ripoff fare, although the levels themselves are easier than Contra‘s. Throw your shield and shoot your arrows at baddies around none-too-crowded side-scrolling levels. There are little power-ups in floating cannisters all along the level, but aside from the heart and a glowing orb that made the exit appear, I’m not sure what the rest of them did. The levels do ramp up in challenge eventually, but only in small increments. I plowed through the first few levels only to have both Captain Ahab and T. Hawkeye die horrendously in this one section, where wave after wave of enemies kept coming without end. There are no continues, so it was back to sqaure one. This is where Data East failed to see the beauty of Contra. Whereas Contra is difficult the entire way through, Captain America has pockets of difficulty amongst otherwise easy, bland levels.
Sometimes mediocre games bother me more than terrible games. At least if a game is terrible, it’s terrible through and through. It’s admirable that the developers of crappy games are so committed to making a crappy game, that almost every aspect of their design is terrible. But when a game like Captain America has promise – decent music, good controls – yet fails to fully deliver or considerably fail, you have to wonder why Data East would even bother.