No other Marvel game series has accomplished what Marvel: Ultimate Alliance has. Its feats and successes have made it Marvel’s best game franchise.
By Nicholas Brooks
Published Mar 14, 2021
Before superhero gaming had enough backing to release games like Batman: Arkham Knight and Marvel’s Spider-Man, most of the titles were much smaller in scale. Born out of the remnants of the still groundbreaking X-Men Legends franchise, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance showed the world how much fun large ensemble superhero games could be. Two sequels and 15 years later, it continues to give compelling reasons why it’s Marvel’s best game franchise.
The dungeon crawler action-adventure game gave players the chance to control a team of four of their favorite Marvel heroes. Each level would have them face off against some of Marvel’s most dangerous enemies. Each game featured either original stories or plots that were inspired by other comic book properties. Its largest claim to fame has been how well it can meld both famous and obscure characters to create teams made up of Wolverine, Falcon, Elsa Bloodstone and Miles Morales.
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When the game was released in 2006, it featured characters who had yet to become household names like Iron Man and Thor. That trend would continue as the films would begin to mirror some of the big moments that were found in the series. One of the best homages to the franchise was when Captain America reflected Iron Man’s repulsor beam with his shield in 2012’s The Avengers. That was originally used as a fusion move in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2. The franchise was also one of the earliest examples of a connected universe as each level and villain was connected deeply to the larger Marvel universe.
Each entry into the series serves as a globe and dimension-hopping adventure that sent the player and heroes to locations from every corner of the Marvel universe. Some of them are well known, like Stark Tower and Asgard, while other locations include little-known locations like the villain Arcade’s Muderworld or Prison 42 from the Civil War storyline. Each location has shown how sprawling the Marvel universe can be and has also beaten the films to the punch with locations like Wakanda and the Sanctum Sanctorum.
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However, what draws in and keeps players is the massive roster of characters that grows with every game. The franchise has never felt tied to one particular team. It promotes outrageous combinations that can feature a quarter of the Fantastic Four teamed up with Cyclops, Captain America and Moon Knight. Nothing is ever off the table, and the same goes for the villains who have included big names like Dr.Doom or smaller characters like Akuma, an enemy of Namor the Sub-Mariner. The massive roster’s goal is to let players find their favorite teams and focus on a proper balance of powers and abilities.
Ultimately, what makes the franchise so impressive and long-lasting is its welcoming atmosphere. Most players who were exposed to the initial game ended up becoming longtime fans of Marvel. This is because the game nurtures a player’s natural curiosity and gives them enough information about characters and events. Knowledge can be tested in trivia mini-games, but the real goal is to let players explore the Marvel universe on their own and check out the source material.
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance has never felt like too much to understand and always manages to feel fresh no matter how many times it’s replayed. The game’s appeal has spread into future superhero titles and has served as a template of what should be included. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance is Marvel’s best franchise because it embraces the universe’s creativity and fun.
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About The Author
(520 Articles Published)
CBR Features Writer Nick Brooks has been writing for over ten years about all things pop culture. He has written for other sites like Animemojo.com and Gamefragger.com. When not writing you can find him with his lovely girlfriend, cooking, reading comics, or collecting any new Star Wars Black Series, Marvel Legend, or Transformer. For more of his thoughts on pop culture check out his blog, The Next Panel with Comic Brooks.
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