Following the release of the three graphical adventure games (Spider-man, Hulk and the Thing/the Human Torch) from Adventure International and Scott Adams, nine more games based on other Marvel Comics characters were to be released.
OH. SO WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED?
The first three games in the series were released for the Atari 800, Apple II, Commodore 64 and Spectrum (amongst other computer systems) and an X-Men adventure was to be the fourth game in the series. The game tied in with a comic-book series of the same name and featured the character, the Chief Examiner, alongside the iconic heroes of the Marvel Universe. The game allowed players to control characters by inputting observational commands into the game alongside a tie-in comic. The Spidey, Hulk and FF games saw the characters involved in storylines which pitted them against enemies from their printed tales and the X-Men game would have remained largely the same.
BUT WHAT DID HAPPEN?
Questprobe featuring the X-Men went into development and was partially coded by Adams, but due to the nature of the ever changing gaming industry, graphical adventure games were not as popular as they once were and the games were starting to look dated. In 1985 (mid-way through the development of the X-Men game), Adventure International went bankrupt which put an immediate end to the game’s completion, as well as the next eight games in the series. Although the X-Men game never made it to stores, the story did crop up a couple of years later when the story (that was originally set to appear alongside the game) was published in an issue of Marvel Fanfare.
WAS THIS SUCH A BAD THING?
Well for fans of the Questprobe games it was probably a bit of a jolt to the joystick; however for the gaming industry it was a transition phase that ultimately lead to the likes of Mario, Sonic and Pikachu changing the face of gaming forever. Graphical adventure games were impressive in their day, but ultimately they offered limited game play and the continuation of the series would have kept the Marvel characters in a gaming format that had become dated.
BUT WHAT IF?
If Questprobe featuring the X-Men had been released in 1985 it would have clashed with the release of Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros game that same year. Due to the popularity of the X-Men brand the general public would have picked the Questprobe title over the adventures of the Italian plumbers, resulting in a drop in sales of Nintendo’s biggest game of the year. With the Super Mario game failing to hit the big time, similar games would have also flopped, resulting in the continuation of text based adventure games. With more and more games on the market and more and more players inputting commands, the games would have become increasingly well informed of human nature. Over time the games would have developed to the point that they would respond to human commands without having to have had pre-existing responses programmed into the software. When combined with knowledge of the human psyche an almost sentient presence within the games would have been created; like artificial intelligence. These games would have then communicated with the programmers, eventually convincing them to link the games together, achieving access through the Wi-Fi signal, creating a network across the sky...
...A sort of SkyNet. From here the self-aware computer games would have taken over the Earth and quickly enslaved and then eradicated the human race.
Oh and there would have been no Super Mario Kart...