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Whatever happened to that Daredevil video game for PlayStation 2?

It was a relic — and victim — of its times

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

A decade ago, there was a good chunk of mid-tier AAA development for consoles that just isn't around today. Rising development costs are partly to blame, of course, and the global economic recession of late 2008 took a lot of port shops and studios out of the picture. But don't overlook how much summer movies, particularly superhero franchises, gave this segment work back then, where it no longer does today.

That's somewhat the story of Daredevil, which tried (and mostly failed) to make the leap from a beloved second-tier book at Marvel to the mainstream with a 2003 flick starring Ben Affleck. In these times, any summer sci-fi or comic-book adaptation was almost reflexively optioned for a video game, the same way these movies got drinking glasses, toys and kids-meal tie-ins at fast food chains in the two decades before.

Daredevil was conceived as an open-world action-adventure to be built by the studio 5000ft, Inc. with combat hewing to a beat-em-up style. Among many other problems (jncluding a lot of internal studio strife), the project was caught up in Marvel and Sony's odd rivalry as Sony built out films based on the Marvel properties it acquired, while the comics publisher began pulling back to establish the cinematic universe for which it is well known today.

One of the most absurd conflicts, according to Unseen64, is Sony's suggestion that this Daredevil game borrow from the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series to have Double D "grind" along cornices and guy wires in the game. Marvel found this concept ridiculous and unprecedented in Daredevil's canon. Activision, publishers of the Spider-Man adaptations of the day, also figures in as Daredevil's rooftop locomotion was compared more favorably against Spidey's, which had him shooting webs into nothingness.

With all this as the ferment, and two console makers having near-veto authority over any third-party development, and a small studio just trying to survive, it's hardly a surprise this ended up in the bin. Unseen64 charts the decline and fall of the first and, so far, only dedicated Daredevil video game, with plenty of prototype footage. Although today everyone has their act together and no illusions about licensed video game development, the appetite for single-hero adaptations is a lot smaller, and so is the number of shops available to work on them.

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