Long before there were new Marvel movies and DC flicks showing almost every week in cinemas around the world, playing games was the best way to really experience comic books in a fresh, new way.
Now, artistic and stylistic themes that originally appeared in comic books as early as the 1930s can be seen in almost every gaming genre. They don’t just appear in comic book games, either, as bold lines, bright colors and dramatic shading can be found in plenty of titles from Gearbox Software’s Borderlands series to the Book of Dead slot game at Guts casino. Of course, it is the online casino genre that interests us most today, as on face value it appears that comics and slots have very little in common. Well, except for Jokers.
It all began with Taito’s Superman in 1988, a side-scrolling arcade game during which Superman battles evil alien invaders. Despite having rarely been animated before this game’s release, it is clear that the developers aimed to be as true to the character as possible. The game did its best to resemble a comic book, which was helped by the fact each scene could be compared to a panel due its side-scrolling nature. The backgrounds, enemies and Superman himself are true to the comics, while the animators managed to get the movements perfect, right down to Superman’s billowing red cape.
In 1991, Sega built on the classic comic book illustrations in Spider-Man: The Video Game, a brilliant move considering most other games in this genre focused on the combat rather than the illustrations at the time. Although the plot was a little all over the place, the artwork throughout this game was incredibly loyal to the original comics, with shading, bold colors and chapter screens. The characters even had speech and thought bubbles while each attack was accompanied by some onomatopoeia or another.
Though few other games were as comic book-esque as Spider-Man (1991), games developers did try to keep the appropriate tones when it came to style. For example, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1989) managed to combine whimsy and grit perfectly, all while keeping the borderline-neon color palette. Conversely, Konami’s Batman Returns (1993) was packed with all the moody visuals one could expect from a Batman game. Even the Marvel vs. Capcom series (1999 – Present) managed to turn each comic book character into a stylistically accurate arcade fighter, even though few other comic book themes survive.
Clearly, video game developers weren’t that interested in creating titles with the all the stylistic nuance included in comic books. After all, most styles evolved on paper because the artists and writers couldn’t express action or scene depth any other way, while this is relatively simple in video games. Nowadays there’s no need to write “thwack!” or “BANG!” in a Spider-Man video game, because there’s so much else happening in each and every second of gameplay.
Thankfully, there is one gaming genre that seems to have adopted some of the older comic book styles. You guessed it: online casino games, particularly slots. In comparison to console or PC-based games, slots are a lot simpler with just two or three different screens depending upon whether there are mini-games. Gameplay experience and immersion depend upon how well the game developers can animate reels, so it is not uncommon for them to include the striking lines, sharpened fonts and written sound effects that are found in comic books.
Perhaps one of the best examples of this is the Hellboy slot, which emulates the traditional, classic comic book style perfectly. Each and every character is stylised and every color scheme uses dark contrasting tones, making it seem as though you are playing through a graphic novel. Unsurprisingly, Hellboy is just one of the many slots based on comic books, as the two seemingly different genres have come together to create an incredible array of games.
Although not every slot is artistically inspired by comics, the influence can be spotted in a number of titles. So, next time you’re playing at an online casino keep an eye out for them and let us know which games you spot.