Stan Lee was an entertainment titan. His creations have touched every conceivable realm of entertainment. It’s difficult to wrap your arms around the scale of it. When I try to reach for comparisons, only the name Walt Disney comes to mind.
His mark on the video game world has been monumental. Attempting to catalog titles based on his creations would require a small tome. I wrote previously about Spider-Man’s first video appearance, but Lee was not involved in the creation of that game. Attempting to track down the first title he actively played a part in creating was a bit tricky. It seems a number of his contributions were uncredited. However, according to gaming journalist Angelo M. D’Argenio, Lee’s first step into the video game world came in the form of 1991’s Wolverine for the NES system.
It was a side scrolling action game that featured you as Wolverine. The games manual provides the premise: “Your head is swimming. You open … your eyes: palm trees. You close your fists (claws intact): sand? It seems that you’ve been washed . up on a deserted beach. No sign of . . life anywhere. You stand up … unsteadily. And brush the sand from your Wolverine . . costume. You look around. In one direction: water as far as the eye can see. In the other direction: low lying shrubs and palm trees … You’ve only one way to go: inland…”
It turns out Wolverine has been captured by Magneto and Sabretooth and dumped on this god forsaken island. There are nine levels to fight through, with names like The Battle for the Skies, Trial by Fire, Trial by Water, The Dungeon of Traps, and The Land of Nightmares. There are only two boss fights. On level eight you battle Magneto, before taking on Sabretooth to end the game. Along the way, you can occasionally call on some of the other X-Men for assistance, assuming you can find the proper icon.
While a lot of games give you a moment of invulnerability after sustaining damage, Wolverine offers no such respite. As long as you are in contact with an enemy, they can deal damage to you. While you can unleash Wolverine’s adamantium claws, doing so drains your energy. How did you counter this inconvenience? Why, by finding items like hamburgers or soft drinks of course! Fortunately, you can find these convenience foods scattered throughout the island.
It’s hardly a classic, though the title does have its fans. Still, it remains notable as the title that brought Stan Lee into the world of video games. For that, there’s only one thing to say: Excelsior!