Marvel Almost Had Its Own Fighting Game in Style of Super Smash Bros

Fighting Game in Style of Super Smash Bros: Several games have tried to mimic Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. formula for the last twenty years. Many fighting video games have followed Smash’s lead by pitting their companies’ characters against one another, including PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, Multiversus, and Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl.

While DC characters are featured in Multiversus, it appears that Marvel almost had its take on Smash Bros., with a Super Hero Squad game planned for the Nintendo DS.

Developer Luke Muscat has disclosed that THQ requested that the Halfbrick team create an identical match including Marvel heroes like Captain America, the Hulk, Thor, and Iron Man.

I thought it was a fantastic concept to throw these characters against each other in a Smash-style game, and development had gotten about halfway there when things broke apart.

Muscat claims that THQ staff recognized early on that the publisher’s contract stipulated that Marvel Super Hero Squad be a street brawler in the vein of Konami’s X-Men.

Halfbrick Studios, the game’s developer, had little choice but to make do with what they had available to meet the deadline and create a game that adhered to the formula. Upon its DS debut in 2009, Marvel Super Hero Squad was widely panned by critics.

Speculating on the game’s potential performance on the DS hardware is intriguing. While the Super Smash Bros. series has seen releases on several Nintendo systems, the DS never had its entry; the first portable entry in the series wasn’t released until 2014 with Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS.

If Halfbrick had been able to make Marvel Super Hero Squad, it might have filled the hole that Nintendo expected the handheld to be unable to handle. Instead, it continues to be one of the weaker Marvel-themed video games.

Super Smash Bros
Super Smash Bros

Super Smash Bros

In the past, Marvel almost developed a fighting game similar to Nintendo‘s Super Smash Bros. Marvel’s heroes are present in many forms of crossover media, and they have a wide variety of fantastic abilities that would be ideal for a fight.

Therefore, the time seems right for a massive crossover involving Marvel characters. Even if the game didn’t end up following the Super Smash Bros. template, it’s interesting to think about what might have been.

Upon its initial debut, Super Smash Bros. sent shockwaves across the fighting game community and left an indelible impression on gamers everywhere. It assembled the most beloved characters from a well-known brand, giving fans an intense dose of adoration.

When you add in the series’ tight, clean gameplay and fantastic multiplayer experience, it’s easy to see why the gaming world has been so enamored with it. Even Marvel isn’t exempt, it seems. Marvel’s Super Hero Squad was published in 2009, just one year after Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

The business quickly rose to prominence, creating such hits as Marvel: Ultimate Alliance and the card combat strategy game Marvel’s Midnight Suns. Marvel’s Super Hero Squad for the DS, inspired by the enthusiasm of such games, almost adopted the formula of the classic fighter.

But as developer Luke Muscat explained, the game had to change directions due to several commitments and limitations before being released. Muscat explains in a video that the original plan for the game was to make it a side-scrolling brawler in the vein of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games.

The publisher THQ informed the developer Halfbrick that they were switching directions and making a game more akin to Super Smash Bros. Therefore, a lot of their previous efforts were scrapped.

About halfway through development, Halfbrick was approached again with news of a big mistake: the contract THQ had signed required the game to be a street brawler, and evidently, the firm had just missed that point.

Halfbrick was once again forced to scrap months of development before a deadline, and despite their best efforts, the resulting game was a “total hot mess.” In the same video, Muscat discusses the publisher’s interference with the development of an Avatar: The Last Airbender video game he was working on.

There are two recurring themes here: publisher meddling and official game adaptations. It’s fantastic to receive insight on why licensed games lack creativity and refinement directly from a developer, who typically cites publisher requests as development barriers.

Muscat wraps out the video with a third terrifying tale, but this time it’s not about a licensed game or any opposition from a publisher. One possible takeaway is that making a video game is never an easy task.

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