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Video Game / Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects

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Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects is a Fighting Game developed by Nihilistic Software, published by Electronic Arts, and released in 2005 for the PS2, Xbox, Nintendo GameCube, PSP, and Nintendo DS. Based on the Marvel Universe, it was meant to be the launch of the Imperfects team, a group of horror-inspired Anti Villains led by the tribal-turned-living weapon Paragon, all of them created and owned by EA, and was promoted with a comic miniseries loosely following the game's story. It is most similar to Power Stone, Ehrgeiz, and Super Smash Bros. Gameplay consists of a fairly free-form fighting system, complete with dodges, blocks, get-up attacks, uppercuts, and air tackles. Using the super button allows the super version of each of these abilities, being more powerful but also depleting the super bar.

The game structures itself around the city of New York falling into chaos with an alien invasion, where heroes such as Captain America (depending on the console) and the Hulk are seemingly killed while the Punisher is missing in action, and the appearance of a mysterious new superpowered group called the Imperfects. This also sets the game up for its dark tone.

Many early announcements identified the game as "Marvel vs. EA", and if you're having trouble naming any iconic EA characters in its release's time period that predated the likes of, say, Mass Effect (John Madden aside), then you understand the initial skepticism the game received before it was announced that the non-Marvel characters would be all original. It sank so hard that Marvel ultimately cut all ties to EA (putting the kibosh on a planned sequel intended for 2008) and returned to Activisionnote  for video game business.

Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Girl: Storm and Elektra with Paragon becoming one by the end.
  • Advertised Extra:
    • For the most part, the Marvel characters in the game aren't the main focus of the game; they serve mainly as antagonists to the Imperfects, who get more development over the course of the game (understandable, given that this was their premiere game, but they haven't been heard of since).
    • This is further enforced when the player takes control of an Imperfect during a sacrifice mission, where a comic book cutscene detailing their origins are shown off. By contrast, none of this fanfare is shown off if an infected Marvel character is used instead.
    • Even the Imperfects- for all their fanfare- only show up twice each in the story and don't do much but fight the Marvel heroes for vague reasons and uncertain outcomes. Paragon is practically the only main character- given an actual story arc and proactively stopping the Big Bad.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Venom is subject to this even more than usual as in the console versions, his bio describes him as "utterly insane and totally without remorse" and his story has him trying to get the Turlin Neural Override's power for himself, still aiming to get it even after Spider-Man beats him while the PSP version has him as one of the Imperfects.
  • Art Shift: When selecting a "sacrifice" mission as an Imperfect the game shifts to a mix of animation and live action as Roekel and the Imperfect describe the character's backstory.
  • Ax-Crazy: Anyone under the Turlin Neural Override's control as they only growl and yell incoherently before their fights.
  • Big Bad: Niles Van Roekel, the alien creator of the Imperfects leading the invasion on Earth.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Despite certain characters essentially having Fatalities, there's no blood or gore. Even Wolverine's finishing move, which has him tackle his opponent to the ground and then stab them to death, is bloodless.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Anyone who has the Turlin Neural Override attached to their neck undergoes this as the spines sink into their spine and simulate adrenaline production to a massive degree, rendering them very violent.
  • Combat Sadomasochist: Venom appears to be this, as he laughs occasionally whilst being attacked when downed in-game.
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to other Marvel games of the time and the more colorful Marvel vs. Capcom fighting games that preceded it. The visual style is very grimy and gritty, the music sounds grim and ominous, especially the title screen theme, and some characters even have Mortal Kombat-style finishers that allow them to kill their opponent (such as Iron Man incinerating someone with a unibeam, Wolverine stabbing his opponent to death with his claws or Solara causing her victim to combust). However, since it has a T rating, the violence doesn't really get into Bloodier and Gorier territory. There's also some mild profanity, such as in one of Spider-Man's win quotes:
    Spider-Man: You know what we call that? We call that a web-slinging ass-kicking!
  • Dark Action Girl: Fault Zone, the Wink and Paragon until the end of the game.
  • Death Seeker: Hazmat believes it's his curse to be alive (something he will say often) and dares/begs every opponent he faces to kill him and put him out of his misery.
  • Demoted to Extra: Captain America (in the console version), The Punisher, and The Incredible Hulk, though the last one may have been due to licensing issues with Vivendi, as The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction dropped the following year.
  • Evil Counterpart: Many of the Imperfects are clear parallels to the Marvel characters. Hazmat's a gooier Spider-Man or Venom, Solara's an alien-empowered Human Torch, Brigade is Wolverine with guns instead of claws, etc.. The Wink is the only such character whose heroic analogue (Nightcrawler) isn't in the game.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: The home planet of the Big Bad was subjected to this. His entire plan is to raise an army or create a weapon capable of retaking his home world.
  • Final Boss: Roekel in the console versions is fought by Paragon to stop his plan while in the PSP version, he's the final boss of Path of the Hero to stop his evil plans while in the Path of the Imperfects, the Imperfects (and Venom) attack him out of anger over him having made a deal with Dr. Doom to hand the Imperfects over to Doom to do experiements on.
  • Finishing Move: Can occur once per match, not necessarily needed to be the finishing blow (which raises the question of Iron Man disintegrating Venom with a large Uni-Beam only for him to come back for more.)
  • Gatling Good: Subverted, as in the intro it seems like that the Punisher tried to fend off the invasion with one but ended up MIA.
  • Heal It With Fire: In Venom's battle against Solara, she can heal herself by destroying special fire-spewing pipes and letting them heal her.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Paragon realizes that she is not evil at the end of the game and fights and kills Roekel and then gets the other Imperfects to do one as well.
  • Hero Killer: Sacrifice missions have the Imperfects defeating the Marvel Superheroes and subjugating them for Roekel's experiments.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Niles Van Roekel is trying to create a weapon or raise an army to liberate his home planet from invaders, becoming a ruthless invader himself.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Fault Zone and Paragon can do this with their blades with Paragon doing a Life Drain and it's how she kills Roekel.
  • Kill It with Fire: Venom takes more damage from fire attacks which poses problems when one of his missions pits him against Solara.
  • Life Drain: Paragon can do this with her blades and kills Roekel this way.
  • Motion Comic: Adaptations of the first issues of Ultimate X-Men and Ultimate Fantastic Four were included as unlockables with new narrations. While the FF narrator was a generic guy, the X-Men one was revealed to be Wolverine in the end.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: Venom is treated as one of the Imperfects in the PSP version despite not really meshing with them.
  • Mythology Gag: One of Magneto's fight introduction quotes is "I am Magneto, you are nothing."
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The EA hype machine fully at work. The game was initially promoted as a fighting game akin to Capcom's Versus Series, but as time grew closer to the release date, previews made it more obvious that the game was closer in genre to a Beat 'em Up, and most of the fighting game elements were relegated to multiplayer (and being closer in style to EA's own Def Jam Series).
  • Oh, Crap!: The reporter in the console cutscene after you finish the Thing's first mission when Captain America and The Incredible Hulk are seemingly killed.
  • Original Generation: The Imperfects.
  • Playing with Fire: Human Torch and Solara
  • Poisonous Person: Hazmat, whose attacks can make people sick, currently provides the picture.
  • Powered Armor: Iron Man and Niles Van Roekel use these in battle.
  • Power Creep, Power Seep: Used to try to show how dangerous the Imperfects are.
  • Real Is Brown:
    • In full display. Since the game was meant to be more "mature" and "realistic", that apparently meant everything needed to be dipped in mud. Also, several X-Men aren't wearing their colorful superhero costumes, instead going for street clothes or ridiculous-looking bikinis or long johns. Overall, the costumes seem like they were influenced by the Marvel movies that had been released at the time (such as the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies, the Bryan Singer X-Men movies, Fantastic Four (2005), Daredevil, etc.), which generally had more subdued and grounded costumes than the later MCU flicks. This is especially evident in the outfit designs for characters like Wolverine (who isn't even wearing a costume), Magneto and Elektra.
    • Averted in the handheld versions, which are more colorful (likely to increase contrast for the smaller screens) and have Wolverine and Magneto wearing variations of their comic book costumes.
  • Ring Out: Certain arenas have this as a way to beat foes and while some heroes such as Daredevil can recover, others such as the Thing cannot.
  • Sequel Hook: The game ends with Roekel revealing that he created the Imperfects, and more specifically Paragon, so that he could breed an army to destroy the aliens that had invaded his homeworld. He then passes away by decreeing that Paragon will need to lead the Imperfects now and the game ends with the implication that Paragon and the Imperfects will now have to protect Earth from this alien force. Unfortunately, the series was abandoned due to poor sales and poor reception so this never amounted to anything.
  • Shock and Awe: Johnny Ohm's powers, appropriately enough
  • Shockwave Stomp: Thing and Fault Zone create shockwaves with their attacks.
  • Super-Strength: The stronger a hero is, the heavier the objects they can lift such as The Thing and Brigade who can lift and throw really heavy objects.
  • Teleport Spam: The Wink's main method of fighting, a power she's had since she was a child.
  • Uncertain Doom: With the exception of Magneto and the Hulk, it is unknown whether or not the Marvel Heroes were actually killed or captured like the Thing was.
  • Vibration Manipulation: Fault Zone has a seismic accelerator apparatus grafted onto her body, allowing her to create localized earthquakes.
  • Wolverine Publicity: The Trope Namer is in the game and prominently displayed in marketing as well as on the cover of the console versions.
  • The Worf Effect:
    • Used with Captain America, the Punisher, and the Hulk, the last of which is barely shown, to establish just how dangerous the aliens are.
    • This is required more or less for gameplay purposes. When four Marvel heroes' storylines have been completed, a "sacrifice" mission is required to be completed before the story as a whole can continue. These missions involve the player taking control of an Imperfect (using the Wink against Elektra or Hazmat against Venom) or a corrupted hero (Spider-Man vs. Human Torch or Wolverine vs. Storm) to kill off a hero. By the end of the game, only three characters can survive. One more thing: Out of all the Marvel characters, Magneto never survives despite the player's actions; his sacrifice mission is needed to progress.
    • Averted with Captain America in the PSP version, however, as he's playable there.