Superhero video games are always a gamble because they really are hit and miss even at the best of times. Spider-Man 2: The Game is considered one of the greatest, if not the greatest, Marvel video games ever made but Spider-Man 3: The Game was panned by fans and critics alike. Batman: Arkham Asylum was a surprise hit to Batman fans but Arkham Origins is usually shunned by the fans from the Arkham series. You just never know if an upcoming superhero video game is going to be good or bad. I can only say that I have high but worrisome hopes for the upcoming Telltale Batman series.
However, the one comic book character that has gotten a lot of attention and praise this year is Frank Castle a.k.a The Punisher. Having finally gotten his long awaited introduction into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and being played by Walking Dead veteran Jon Bernthal, people immediately praised this character from Daredevil's season 2. This shows because Marvel and Netflix are already in the process of creating a spin-off Punisher solo series.
So with all this new found fame, why hasn't there been a popular Punisher video game released?
The Punisher has actually had a few video game releases in the past but they were mostly under the radar and not terribly popular due to poor advertising. The two biggest games that was released under the Punisher's name was the Punisher Arcade game back in 1993 and The Punisher 2005 game that was released after the "success" of the movie "The Punisher" starring Thomas Jane. The Punisher made a couple cameo appearances in other Marvel video games including Spider-Man (2000), Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects, and even being named dropped in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2.
The reason the Punisher never got a big video game release like other popular superheroes is probably because the 90s were not too kind to Frank Castle. The Punisher was going through some lame and downright weird storylines in the comic books and was used mostly as a side or cameo character in other comic storylines. The 90s also happen to be when gaming was taking on a new form with the releases of the Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64 and the first Playstation console. With all the marketable superheroes like Spider-Man, Superman, Batman and so forth, I doubt the Punisher made the list. The Punisher didn't get his hard reboot until the dawn of the new millennium.
So why is now the perfect time for a Punisher game series?
There are two very good reasons why now the best time for developers to start work on a Punisher video game franchise. Marvel's Daredevil and the Batman Arkham series. Jon Bernthal has done something that three other actors could not do in the past, which is breath new life into the character. When the Punisher premiered in the latest season of Daredevil, fans were raving about how great Jon Bernthal was in role. He was apparently so popular that Netflix and Marvel are already talking about a spin-off series.
The Batman Arkham games proved that fighting games aren't just a button mashing mess. With the use of the free-flow combat gameplay, gamers were introduced to a new realm of excitement with the Batman character as you could actually fight like he did in the cartoon series and the movies. The same could be done for the Punisher's combat gameplay as the character is trained in martial arts and even streetfighting. Throw in some gun fights and heavy interrogation from his 2005 video game release and you could have potential for a great Punisher game.
There plenty of popular storylines that could be adapted into a Punisher video game including: Welcome Back Frank, The Slavers, War Zone, War Journal and so forth. You can bring in a lot of other comic book cameos including Daredevil, Spider-Man, Nick Fury, Wolverine and so many more that the possibilities are endless. If there was ever a more perfect time for a triple A Punisher video game series, it is right now.