Before mobile gaming was the big thing, the movie tie-in game happened with alarming regularly. You could always expect them on consoles and handhelds right around the movie's release date, but you had no idea if they were a work of art or an impending tragedy. For every Aladdin, Goldeneye, and Chronicles of Riddick, there's a Friday the 13th, Catwoman, or Charlie's Angels waiting in the wings to cause nightmares.
At some point, throwing away money on developing console-bound movie adaptations became a bad idea. That's when mobile entered the picture, allowing publishers and developers to build tie-in games for far cheaper. For us enthusiast types, these games run completely underneath the radar.
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, directed by James Gunn, is out in theatres tomorrow. If you're a comics fan like I am, you probably have your early screening tickets for tonight in-hand. While swimming in the hype, I decided to take a look at the official Guardians of the Galaxy game on mobile platforms. What I found was Guardians of the Galaxy: The Universal Weapon, a pretty solid role-playing game. It has good character designs, decent gameplay, and a number of characters and items to unlock for only $4.99. Plus, no additional microtransactions!
The Universal Weapon had me pondering what I would've done with the Guardians of the Galaxy name and when my mind wanders it really goes off the range. Here's a few directions I could see a Guardians of the Galaxy game going, split into different eras of gaming. In each era, I've picked a template game that I'd map the Guardians of the Galaxy property onto.
NES Era - G.I. Joe: The Atlantis Factor
Much like G.I. Joe: The Atlantis Factor, Guardians of the Galaxy on NES would pit Peter Quill (Star-Lord) and his ragtag band against the Kree army. You'd start with Star-Lord, but quickly unlock other team members you could switch between at any time. Each character would have their own specialty: Star-Lord as your basic ranged character, Rocket with spread fire, Gamora and Drax as two different flavors of melee, and Groot with regenerating health. Replace the Bionic Commando-style map with a star map and you have a winner.
Super NES/Sega Genesis Era - Super Star Wars
Unlike the NES Era outing, this Guardians of the Galaxy would be based on the painfully-hard Super Star Wars games. You'd play each member of the team in separate story-based stages, though some areas would allow you to choose between teammates. Of course, you'd run up against enemies that were barely seen or mentioned in the film as full-fledged bosses - like the probe droid boss in Super Empire Strikes Back - because there's really only so many notable bad guys in a single film. At least that's better than Vader turning into a space scorpion in Star Wars for NES.
PlayStation/N64 Era - Valkyrie Profile
A bit of turn-based RPG combat mixed with a healthy dose of platforming dungeon exploration? The first Valkyrie Profile was a wonderfully-unique RPG for its time. If I was making a Guardians of the Galaxy game in the PlayStation era, this is the game I would shamelessly steal from. You can match Valkyrie Profile's 24 playable characters with the Guardians film cast, but you could pull in comic-only Guardians like Agent Venom, Captain Marvel, and Quasar (Phyla-Vell) to pad things out. Of all the different games on this list, this is probably the one I want to see most. The Universal Weapon is in the same ballpark, but it's not as robust.
PlayStation 2/Xbox/GameCube Era - Brute Force
My best bet for this era would be a game in the style of Microsoft's Brute Force for Xbox. If you don't know much about Brute Force, it was a third-person squad-based shooter with four player coop and supposedly "the next Halo". There were four members on the team, each with their own basic weapon and special ability: the reptilian Brutus has medium weapons with a special ability that heals him and increases damage for example. The Guardians have five members, but you can just move Groot off into a summonable ability and call it a day. Outside of that tiny detail, the rest of the Guardians all map well to the four different slots in Brute Force. It wasn't a great game, but with four players it was a ton of fun.
PlayStation 3/Xbox 360/Wii Era - Mass Effect 2
You knew this was coming right? Bioware would never step up and make another licensed RPG when it could work on its own IP, but I'd pay cold, hard cash for a Bioware Guardians of the Galaxy game. One highly-skilled rogue and his/her crew versus everybody else, with the fate of the galaxy in their hands? A setting whose centerpieces include a station that's a haven for criminals and malcontents and the place where the galaxy's supercops get their orders? I have no clue if I'm talking about the Guardians or the crew of the Normandy. This would be an amazing game, but it's also the most unlikely game on this list.
What would you like to see from a Guardians of the Galaxy game? That's assuming you'd want a Guardians game at all.