It makes sense for developers to be drawn to making superhero games - there's a built in audience, the entire world and scenario is set up for you already, and there's a bunch of cool powers to play around with...which, actually, is also the problem. With so many superheroes being given powers of invincibility and impossibly crazy super strength, it makes designing a challenging game pretty, uh, challenging. The right way to do things would be to not betray the character and find a way to create an interesting game with their powers in tact. Or you could always take the easy way and just remove whatever inconvenient abilities are getting in your way.
Which is, naturally, the way most developers went for. These are 5 superhero games that did away with some pretty important superpowers.
1. Dragon Ball Z: Sagas - The Z-Fighters Can't Fly
The Source Material: The Z-Fighters are exceptional martial artists, and among the most powerful beings in the universe. They can use their energy - their ki - to shield their bodies from attacks, shoot energy projectiles, move so fast it looks like they teleport (except for Goku, who can actually teleport) and fly around with incredible speed.
The Game: Powerful warriors? Check. Energy beams and Kamehameha? Check. Super Saiyan? Check. So what's wrong? The Z-Fighters simply can't fly during actual gameplay. They are shown flying during cutscenes, and the levels start with the heroes landing at the beginning of the stage from the air, but the most you can hope for while in control is jumping and hovering around in the air, but only as high as your character can jump. I know what you're thinking. No problem, right? Z-Fighters have legs as powerful as nukes, they can jump pretty high. Not in this game, unfortunately. Their jumps are so pathetic Chunky Kong from Donkey Kong 64 would be embarrassed by them.
But it's no problem as long as the gameplay doesn't demand it, right? Well, there are coins in the game you can pick up on the stages that you can spend on making your ultimate warrior (not to be confused with The Ultimate Warrior) even more powerful. But some of them are placed so high that you simply can't jump up that far from the ground. You have to find platforms like hills to jump from, hover to the coin and pick them up. That's right. Height is a problem in a game based on Dragon Ball Z. The true challenge should be triumphing over foes like Frieza and Cell, not picking up collectibles out of your reach.
2. X-Men 2: Wolverine's Revenge - Wolverine's Health Keeps Depleting If You Use His Claws
The Source Material: He is the best at what he does, Bub, but what he does is not nice. Wolverine is a tough, no-nonsense mutant with the ability to regenerate from almost any damage. This healing factor also prevents him from aging and made him survive an operation that would have killed a normal man. This operation gave him the trademark adamantium skeleton and claws, making him both even more unkillable and an offensive powerhouse.
The Game: The claws ARE in the game, and you can do some seriously devastating attacks with them, but it has a price. Your health keeps depleting when you use the claws. In a game about Wolverine. Who keeps on healing. Wrap your head around that.
I think I know why the game was made this way. It needs to be a challenge. Running around and slicing every enemy to pieces while there is no way of dying is not a compelling gameplay experience, but that's a challenge you can't avoid when you decide to make a game about Wolverine, or any killing machine who simply can't die. Make him fight more powerful enemies, give them annoying powers, like the ability to drain mutant powers. Since the adamantium itself is a death sentence without the healing factor (it damages the living tissue around it, so only someone like Wolverine can keep on living with it) that could have resulted in fun 'race against time' moments where you have to find the one guy who disabled the healing before the metal in your bones kill you. Also, high-tier Marvel brawlers, like The Incredible Hulk can do serious damage to Wolverine, so making the foot soldiers you have to kill bio-organic weapons instead could have been all the challenge the game ever needed. Retconning his ability and saying "Yeah, he heals. As long as the claws are not out" was the lazy way out, so you either risk dying to feel like Wolverine, or prepare for a real boring playing session starring... Healing Pissed Of Man, or something.
3. The Incredible Hulk - The Hulk Can Be Killed With Guns
The Source Material: The Hulk is the strongest there is! The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets! You get the idea. He is big, green, strong, and rapidly heals back from almost any damage. Surviving nukes, defeating gods (puny god), fighting Superman on an even level in Marvel-DC crossovers... this beast's true limits are unknown. There are plenty of comic book characters even more powerful than him, but trust me... you wouldn't like him when he's angry. Is there any more Hulk cliché I can force in here? Oh, I got one. Huuulk Smaaaash!
The Game: You can totally handle an angry Hulk... if you pack some serious heat. Many enemies have guns in this otherwise fun beat-em-up (excellent soundtrack by the way, you guys!) and they drain Hulk's health crazy fast.
The problem is the same as in Wolverine's case. How do you make a challenge when the main character's primary attribute is 'this guy just won't die'? You ignore that attribute and hope the fans won't notice what you did if you also put in a funky soundtrack (seriously, awesome soundtrack, you guys!).
And again, this could have easily been solved by giving Hulk some worthy, freakishly powerful opponents. Any proper beat-em-up featuring this guy should be about all sorts of crazy abominations (led by The Abomination) going up against everyone's favorite green monster (who shops for pants at the same place The Joker does) and the whole city getting torn apart in the process. Sure, there are some monsters in the game, and you'd think the bosses will make you think "now THAT's more like it", but they don't. Seriously, Rhino? RHINO? He is one of the pushover Spider-Man villains. How could he possibly be a match for Hulk? Even when freakish monsters DO shop up for one level, they disappoint, being mildly annoying at best. Gamma radiated monsters should be the real threat to the Hulk, not guns that make 'pew-pew' noises. The most powerful thing about this game is not the Hulk. It's the Funk. In the soundtrack. Check it out, you guys!