A few days ago I took a trip to Forbidden Planet, a popular comic book store situated in New York City’s Union Square. I’m not really a comic book guy these days, but I do find joy in perusing the aisles and keeping tabs on my favorite titles/franchises such as Batman, X-Men, and Captain America. While I dig any comic with an excellent story and solid art, Daredevil in particular always demands extra attention. I became a fan during the ’80s when Frank Miller took the flagging series to new heights with gritty ninja-laced urban tales.
Despite being one of Marvel’s longest running properties, Daredevil has never achieved true mainstream love. No cartoon series like Spider-Man, Avengers, Iron Man, Hulk, and Fantastic Four. The abomination of a movie by Mark Steven Johnson (as well as the Elektra spin-off) killed any chance of cinematic accolades (at least until Marvel Studios reboots it). Ol’ hornhead’s never starred in a solo console or PC game, either — though it would’ve happened had this project saw completion (for better or for worse). And it’s a damned shame because Daredevil, and his universe, is perfect video game fodder.
I came to that realization the first time I played Metal Gear Solid. The game’s enemy-tracking radar instantly recalled Matt Murdock’s own echo-location-like radar sense and heightened abilities that enable him to detect breathing and heartbeats. That feature could serve as the backbone for a thrilling stealth-action game in which Daredevil, unlike Solid Snake/Naked Snake/Raiden who lose their radar abilities when spotted by the enemy, has a radar sense up and running at all times. That opens the door to creative gameplay such as killing lights to operate in the dark to give DD the advantage. Equipped with enemy positioning knowledge and the cover of darkness, gamers could theoretically tackle foes using stealth tactics or rush into the fray with Matt Murdock’s multi-purpose billy club drawn.
Daredevil is an action-oriented comic, and as such, demands a game that puts Murdock’s combat to good use. In the comics, that billy club is used in many ways with the most obvious being as an offensive weapon. Part of it breaks off to form a baton that blends well with DD’s hard-hitting martial arts prowess — a style which features a mix of boxing, kung-fu, stick fighting, and other disciplines. Multi-enemy brawls in the mold of Rocksteady’s Arkham titles, plus extrasensory-based counters, would serve a Daredevil game well.
The billy club, as in the books, could also double as a grappling hook to propel Murdock up and across buildings as he patrols Hell’s Kitchen and neighboring Manhattan neighborhoods. Location and environment are essential to crafting an authentic Daredevil game. Murdock’s origin and overall history is so tied to Hell’s Kitchen’s poor and victimized junkies, pushers, prostitutes, and thugs that the neighborhood needs to play a heavy role in the game’s narrative. In fact, a DD game with an intimate scale that’s more Shenmue than Grand Theft Auto – one that focuses on the area’s denizens — would be the proper size. Daredevil stories always felt more personal than other superhero books, and Murdock’s ties to his neighborhood is virtually unmatched in other comics.
DD’s grounded nature informs his rogue’s gallery. Though they aren’t as memorable as Spider-Man villains, Daredevil‘s regular and famous foes match the pseudo-realistic street crime aesthetic: The Kingpin, Bullseye, Typhoid Mary, Bullet, Bushwacker, and frenemy, The Punisher. And, of course, The Hand. After all, ninjas are the perfect action fodder for any high-octane project, regardless of the medium.
All this, of course, is the ramblings of a Daredevil fan who has no game design chops and simply cobbled compelling elements of his favorite games into one semi-superheroic world. The Man Without Fear deserves video game representation – Rocksteady and Platinum are the two development houses that immediately come to mind as having the vision to bring Daredevil to life.
I really need this to happen. But only if done right.