The Strange Marvel Games Of The Mattel HyperScan


The world of Marvel is no stranger to the world of video games. Ever since the Atari 2600 super heroes have had hundreds of adventures on the digital plane, with many Marvel characters like Spider-Man and the X-Men making up a sizable portion of those.

But perhaps some of the oddest video games using the Marvel license were on one of the most obscure video game consoles that ever existed. The Mattel HyperScan.

The HyperScan was a console developed by the popular toy company Mattel and released in October of 2006 and was discontinued roughly six months later. The idea was to combine card collecting with video games where data was stored inside a trading card and scanned in to unlock content for a specific video game. Somewhat similar to Nintendo’s Amiibo figures. Mattel was able to license Marvel properties to develop games for their system.

The first Marvel game was a pack-in title, that being X-Men. The game was a 1v1 fighting game with 20 different fighters. You would first select your character card, followed by a special modifier card. Your character card could level up and save progress as you play. There were also special finisher cards at the end of each match as well as bonus room cards to level up.

However, the gameplay left much to be desired. Similar X-Men games, like X-Men: Children of the Atom, played much better. Plus having characters locked behind cards was annoying. Imagine if for Super Smash Bros. you could only play as a character if you had their Amiibo figure. Not to mention only cards 01 – 57 were released with cards 58 – 102 being canceled due to the console being discontinued. Meaning that roughly half the roster is forever locked. 

The second game was Marvel Heroes, a 2D side scroller where you chose from a lineup of different heroes. The types of cards included character cards, level cards, environment cards, enemy cards, boss cards and more. The idea is that you could create your own levels with a specific series of cards, while also having certain stories/scenarios if you have a story cards.

But like X-Men the game, it had various technical problems with collision, loading, controls and other issues. There are many other great Marvel games for 16-Bit consoles from the 1990s that are worth more of your time. There were 70 total cards released for this game.

The last game was a Toys R Us exclusive game, Spider-Man. The game is a 2D action sider-scroller like Marvel Heroes but is based mainly on the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films. You only play as Spider-Man while having a variety of different mod and level cards. In order to access certain missions you need that specific card.

Once again the controls and hit detection leave much to be desired. The game also feels hollow due to most content being locked behind different cards. There were 59 total cards released with 1 unreleased card.

In the end the Mattel HysperScan only released two other games, Ben 10 and Interstellar Wrestling League. The console reportedly sold only 10,000 units before being discontinued. The idea of combining trading cards with video games was too early. It wouldn’t be until Nintendo Amiibo cards for Animal Crossing before the idea caught on; albeit briefly.

What do you think of these strange games? Are they worth looking into? Or are they better left forgotten?

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