www.cbr.com Doctor Strange's First Video Game Appearance Is From a Forgotten Text Adventure

100 18/06/2022

The long-awaited release of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is imminent. Given the number of cameos expected in Multiverse of Madness, both confirmed and rumored, Stephen Strange is far from the only superhero who will appear in the next Marvel Cinematic Universe blockbuster. That said, his name is on the marquee, not the Scarlet Witch or the recently confirmed Illuminati, which may be surprising for those used to Strange playing a supporting role in media outside of the comics.


Even compared to other characters who didn't reach iconic status outside of comics until the MCU, the longtime Illuminati member doesn't have a strong track record of appearances in multimedia projects outside of a failed 1978 TV movie. Strange has never headlined an animated series or video game, though he has made his share of appearances in games like Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3. However, his first video game appearance came decades earlier.

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Doctor Strange's first video game appearance occurred in 1984's Questprobe Featuring The Hulk, a graphic adventure game developed and published by Adventure International. It was released for home computers like the Apple II, Atari eight-bit family and the Commodore 64. Created in the days before point-and-click adventure games became the norm, players controlled the Questprobe games were controlled by entering simple commands.

www.cbr.com Doctor Strange's First Video Game Appearance Is From a Forgotten Text Adventure

The Hulk and Bruce Banner could be moved by entering one of the cardinal directions. The game had a 120-word vocabulary, but commands could only be written in simple two-word verb/noun combinations like "open box." One-letter shortcuts like typing "u" for up or "d" for down could also be used to streamline the process. Developer Scott Adams (no relation to the Dilbert creator) intentionally made the game more accessible for new players, admitting seasoned players could finish it in a day.

The graphics in all the Questprobe games were adapted from artwork by Marvel Comics legends John Romita Sr. and Mark Gruenwald. It's estimated that between 50 and 70 drawings were created for the game. The Questprobe games were accompanied by a tie-in comic book series, also titled Questprobe. Adams and legendary Marvel creator John Byrne plotted the series. Longtime Incredible Hulk writer and co-creator of Rocket Raccoon Bill Mantlo wrote the first issue, which featured art from Gruenwald and Romita.

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Questprobe Featuring The Hulk was the first of a planned 12-game series starring Marvel characters as part of a 10-year licensing agreement between Marvel and Adventure International. However, only two more games, Questprobe Featuring Spider-Man and Questprobe Featuring The Human Torch and The Thing, were released. Adventure Interactive went out of business while the fourth game, which would have starred The X-Men, was in development. The X-Men tie-comic was completed and was published as issue 33 of the Marvel Fanfare anthology.

Strange appeared alongside the title character and other future MCU characters like Ant-Man and Ultron. The plot features a familiar element for MCU fans, as it involves The Hulk collecting gems to achieve a goal, in this case escaping from cosmic entity The Chief Examiner's lair. Strange appears in his astral form to give The Hulk a clue involving his old foe Nightmare. He also plugged Adams' other Marvel games before disappearing.

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Strange's cameo appearance established the supporting role he's played in his subsequent video game appearances. Strange has been a playable character in Marvel's many video games, from console releases to mobile games and even the defunct Facebook RPG Marvel: Avengers Alliance. He will also be featured in the upcoming game Marvel's Midnight Suns. In all of those titles, he's always been part of a larger gathering of heroes, whether that means being a party member in an Ultimate Alliance game or being one of the many unlockable characters in a Lego Marvel game.

Strange will at least get more of the spotlight in a Marvel game to coincide with Multiverse of Madness' release. Mobile fighting game Marvel Contest of Champions will host the "Strange Fates" event. It will add Wong and the green minotaur Rintrah as playable characters and give away a free version of Strange himself. It's not his own video game, though a solo game now has a decent chance of happening thanks to Marvel Games' push to create more games in the vein of Insomniac's Spider-Man series. Whatever the future holds, Doctor Strange's gaming history starts with a simple, overlooked, but still noteworthy adventure game.

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Robert Curran lives in Deep South Texas. He is a life long fan of comic books, video games, and pro wrestling. He spent five years in the trenches of his local comic book shop. His work has appeared in WWE Magazine (when WWE had a magazine), Comics Should Be Good, and Inside Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @RBCURRAN.

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