If you were a DC loyalist and stood in envy watching Marvel fans basking in the glow of X-Men vs Street Fighter and the Capcom Marvel series, you had no platform upon which your favorite heroes could duke it out. There was a plethora of superhero games throughout the 8-16 bit era, ranging from good to bad, and most of them action games. This was the midst of the golden age for fighters, and when I read about a tournament fighter featuring the Justice League, I was ecstatic. How would the game fare?
I used that rhetorical device for no other reason than to clearly set up that Justice League Task Force did not live up to expectations. And by “not live up to expectations”, I mean Justice League Task Force is a misfire of a fighting game the same way a boa constrictor with hypno powers is a poor babysitter for Mowgli. I know that there were quite a few stinkers in the genre, but companies like Capcom laid down the perfect how-to blueprint for Fighting your Street. Super heroes practically do half the work with their wide range of powers and abilities, implementing the various skill sets into a fighting game requires half a brain.
Developed by SunSoft in 1995 and released on the Sega Genesis (assistance from Condor Inc., also known as Blizzard North) and the Super Nintendo (Blizzard Entertainment), this is a 2D fighter that is another one of the pack for the time period. What separates this from other actual good games is how it really tries to…not be…good. They made a fighting game about superheroes uninteresting to play.
It’s stiff, the special moves are hella lame (more of a chore than you’d think to execute), and despite the impressive artwork, the animation is rather undesirable and choppy. That is one positive I’ll give, the sprites are big and expressive. Supes was rocking that thick KISS curl in this game, roughly after the Death of Superman story which apparently a good number of people didn’t like. The backgrounds are okay, mostly lifeless and devoid of activity or immersion, as if a PNG image from a Commodore 64 was cropped and framed with the most minimal feeling of parallax scrolling. It is colorful, just once it’s in motion, it begins to look boring immediately and the heroes look like it hurts to move. Now, I rag on this, but the ‘Drive version is more appealing overall than the SNES counterpart, which while the animation on the sprites is slightly more fluid, it looks more squashed and Play-Dohy by comparison. So for a brief trip down “Who Did It Better?”, Genesis Does. It rocks in terms of visuals and audio quality. Aquaman doesn’t even have his boss trident. For as superior a piece of hardware the SNES is, there really are some Sega ports that beat the pants off Nintendo’s offerings. But honestly, in the big scheme of things, fighting it out for the title of ‘Best Justice League Task Force’ is like Denny’s and Village Inn going to war over sub-mediocre budget dining.
The single player Story Mode sends you battling against a bunch of robot clones of the other Justice League members. Choose from Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, The Flash, and Aquaman until you encounter Despero and Cheetah to find out what’s happening before taking on Darkseid. It’s legitimately better than Dragonball FighterZ’s solo campaign. In the opening, you get this dialogue that actually sounds pretty good coming out of the Genesis.
Unless you’re that eager to scratch your collector itch, you’re missing absolutely nothing by passing on Justice League Task Force. Not a single character is really fun to play with (Flash literally has one useful special attack that you can spam until you win), and any enjoyment players may get out of it is guaranteed to be short-lived. Sunsoft made some pretty cool games, it’s a shame that the DC Universe’s first venture into tournament fighter was so poor. Pass on this bucket of water and find Injustice 2 used instead.