Most discussion about superhero video games revolves around the same few boring superheroes. People want to be Superman. They want to be Wolverine. They want to be Batman. Everyone wants to be the most popular and least interesting superheroes in comic books. Enough, I say! There’s only one superhero we absolutely need to play, and she’s Rogue.
If you don’t know who Rogue is, here’s a short primer: she’s a mutant, one of the X-Men, who has the power to steal anyone else’s superpowers. Let that sink in for a minute. Yes, friends, Rogue is Megaman, which means that we’re off to a good start. As with any long-lived comic book character, Rogue has been interpreted in a lot of different ways over the years, so there are a lot of different interpretations to choose from, and we can mix and match as we’d like.
My personal favourite interpretation of the character is the classic Jim Lee era Rogue with the yellow and green spandex and the cool leather bomber jacket. At this point, Rogue was more or less at the height of her powers, not only possessing her own abilities but also having some of Ms. Marvel’s superpowers as well, most notably super strength and flight. She was the X-Men cartoon’s resident powerhouse.
Now, right off the bat, it’s worth noting that flying powers are hard to do well, which is why you rarely see them in games. Flying often removes level design from the equation, and level design is a big chunk of what makes for a great game, so that might have to get nerfed or relegated to specific flying-centric set pieces.
Right now, I’m imagining Rogue as the playable character of a character action game, like Devil May Cry or Bayonetta. The super strength lets you pull off all the crazy moves those characters do, but Rogue’s unique ability to steal other people’s powers means that you can open up a lot of the encounters, giving Rogue a more fluid power set as the game progresses.
This increase in power also means there’s a potential to ramp up the game’s scale as time goes on. Start out with Rogue as “pretty strong” and end up with her having something like Cyclops’s eye beams or Quicksilver’s super speed. Maybe even go with a set piece the size of Asura’s Wrath, have her steal Gladiator’s powers, and go toe to toe with some solar system-sized monstrosity.
Most superheroes have arbitrary reasons for progression in their game, but not Rogue; her power set was practically built for a game’s progression system. Game designers could do interesting stuff with the world design as well: Rogue might come against an ice wall that’s too thick to break with punches, so she has to go fight Pyro, steal his powers, and use them to melt it. There are a lot of cool potential applications, and they’re incredibly flexible because Rogue’s demonstrated a wide variety of limits on her powers. In some cases, her absorption is permanent. In others, it’s temporary. Sometimes, it seems as powerful as the person she borrowed it from, other times, it seems less. This means that there’s no hard and fast rule set she has to adhere to.
Superman, in contrast, has to fly, which means level design is hard, and he’s invulnerable to everything but magic and kryptonite, which means that there’s rarely any risk for him. He’s got powers like speed, freeze breath, laser vision, and all sorts of other stuff that he’s got to have to still be Superman, but which might seem game-breaking and unsuitable for him, since he always has them all the time. He doesn’t develop new powers over time, unless he’s exposed to red kryptonite. Superman just doesn’t work as well as a game character.
Another great thing about Rogue is that she’s one of the more human characters in comics; taken as a character with a decades-old history, she can be pretty one-note: she’s someone with powers that prevent her from being able to get close to people. Taken as an element of an individual story, this motivation can really be given time and closure. A great game story could take Rogue from a broken and insecure girl who can’t get close to anyone to the X-Men’s most badass powerhouse.
Plus, it’s generally accepted that Rogue’s power doesn’t actually hurt everyone she touches, she just doesn’t know how to control her powers. Big Two-published comics need to be serial and never-ending, but a game doesn’t have to be; Rogue could have a complete arc where she, alongside her mentor, Professor X, explore the extent of her powers and help her control them.
There’s a lot that can be done with Rogue as a character. Her power set and personal motivation tie together neatly, and there’s a potential to do some awesome character action stuff that video games have generally performed poorly at. So, yeah, I’d love to play a Rogue video game. But what about you? Do you think Rogue would be the perfect superhero game protagonist? Do you have someone else in mind?