The Marvel universe is chocked full of colorful characters. Ever heard of Slapstick the living cartoon clown? How about Asbestos Lady? That is one cosplay project I would not recommend. Among the many super hero squads—the Avengers, the Defenders, and DC’s Justice League—the Guardians of the Galaxy occupy a special place in Marvel’s extensive roster. For one, they’re super diverse. I mean, “a raccoon, a talking tree, and a green assassin enter a bar” sounds like the setup of a much-needed joke, not to mention, the films are able to balance refreshingly light-hearted moments with the impending doom of the universe; a rare feat.
In the spirit of Guardians of the Galaxy 2’s theater debut and my love of hypothetical scenarios, I pose a question. If the Guardians of the Galaxy spent their free time playing video games rather than saving the universe, what games would they play? Based on their personalities, backstories, and abilities, I’ve chosen titles that Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot might not only enjoy, but characters that they could deeply relate to. Without further ado, let’s celebrate Volume 2 completely spoiler-free with Gamers of the Galaxy.
Peter Quill, Star-Lord
Former outlaw, unabashed smartass, and leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Peter Quill is the goofy (and occasionally heroic) spacefarer that forged an unlikely alliance between five former criminals turned galactic saviors. Far from the model superhero archetype, the self-proclaimed Star-Lord debuts in the Marvel cinematic universe as a relatively unsavory guy. Thief, smuggler, pirate—Quill is, or at least was, a far cry from the morally chaste “Supermans” and “Captain Americas” of the hero world. That is, until he unintentionally steals an immensely powerful artifact which sets off a cataclysm of destruction, incites a battle of good versus evil, and spurs the formation of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
As thanks for stopping the antagonist Ronan the Accuser at the end of the first film, the heroes are cleared of their extensive criminal records, and given a clean slate. Quill may not technically be a renegade outlaw anymore, but the many skills he learned growing up among interstellar pirates continues to serve him well in his new position as a fully-fledged hero boss. If any game exemplifies Star-Lord’s witty sarcasm and his rite of passage from questionable-guy to galactic hero, it would have to be Tales from the Borderlands.
Band of misfits
My favorite title among Telltale Games’ episodic adventures, Tales from the Borderlands follows a group of unlikely allies who come together in the face of hardship (and hilarity) to look beyond their self-serving motives toward something bigger. The crew runs the gamut of personalities—an ambitious desk-jockey, a clever con artist, a grudge-holding killbot—which paves the way for comedic gold. In fact, Tales from the Borderlands won a number of awards including Best Writing in a Comedy and Best Licensed Soundtrack.
Speaking of the music, I have a feeling Quill would totally appreciate Tales from the Borderlands’ killer score: I’m talking the likes of Busy Earnin’ by Jungle, James Blake’s Retrograde, and My Silver Lining by First Aid Kit. Considering the Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix Volume 1 topped the Billboard Soundtrack chart for 11 weeks, I think it’s safe to say that our captain Star-Lord and Telltale’s acclaimed game would jive in musical harmony.
Beyond the comedy connection and musical accolades, the Borderlands cast members undergo their own rite of passage. They’re a bunch of crummy people who become arguably less horrible over the course of one very interesting adventure. If the Guardians of the Galaxy ever need any new crewmates, they should look no further than the ragtag, kind-of-heroes from Tales from the Borderlands.
Gamora, The Deadliest Woman in the Galaxy
Few characters represent the pain, hardship, and the testament to new beginnings quite like the assassin extraordinaire, Gamora. She is a tragic soul, the sole survivor of her race. She is a tool of vengeance, trained to serve those who killed her family. She is a symbol of redemption, proof that no matter how far you sink into the darkness, how many horrible things you’ve done, atonement is possible. And, she is a Guardian of the Galaxy. In her words, “I have lived most my life surrounded by my enemies. I would be grateful to die among my friends.”
The only female member of the GotG crew, Gamora is known as the Deadliest Woman in the Galaxy for good reason. Under the tutelage of the cosmic warlord Thanos and his lackeys, Gamora was trained to be death incarnate, honing her skills to a lethal edge. An expert in hand-to-hand combat, marksmanship, covert assassination and bladed weaponry, the murderess makes “hunting” look like fine art, and that’s only the surface of what she can do.
Thanks to her race’s unique characteristics and a multitude of cybernetic implants, Gamora boasts superhuman strength, agility, stamina, enhanced senses, and faster healing. With such a particular set of skills, even Liam Neeson would be envious. Since there’s no Taken the Video Game; based on the servitude of her past and the proficiency of her talents, I choose Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Mankind Divided as her games of choice.
Match made in sci-fi cyberpunk heaven
The latter two Deus Ex installments fit Gamora’s signature style in a number of ways. For one, she shares quite a few similarities with the games’ protagonist Adam Jenson. Both of their bodies have been repurposed to suit others’ needs, namely tasks such as infiltration and espionage. And by repurposed, I’m not talking about some basic upgrades like built-in Bluetooth; think more along the lines of cybernetic skeletons, blade-arm prosthetics, and head-to-toe augmentations. In addition, they’re each one-of-a-kind in their respective cannon—Gamora is the last of her race, and Jenson, the secret to universal augmentation.
On an even deeper level, Gamora and Jenson have both been entangled in the complex plots of others. They’ve been used, lied to, and manipulated to suit the whims of mega corporations and interstellar aggressors. It’s a painful thread to share, one that has left its mark on both body and mind. But of course, video games aren’t all about having a Star Trek mind meld with the main character, they’re about fun! Deus Ex is certainly a game that welcomes player choice and more importantly, player freedom, a feature I think Gamora would approve of. Not to mention, they both have pretty cool swords. It’s like a match made in sci-fi cyberpunk heaven.
Drax, The Destroyer
Despite his title as Drax the Destroyer, the Guardians of the Galaxy’s resident bodybuilder isn’t an unquenchable murderous best. To clarify, there’s nothing wrong with having a healthy appreciation for destruction, after all, a battle a day keeps the doctor away right? But when it comes to Drax, the guy is a little more complicated than meets the eye. After his wife and child were murdered at the hands of Thanos, Gamora’s adoptive father, Drax the family man was no more. He became a force of destruction, an embodiment of revenge to make the Dark Lord pay for his deeds.
Through a series of events, Drax joins the GotG squad and we learn that the warrior isn’t just an epic combatant or a tortured soul, Drax is highly intelligent, fiercely loyalty, albeit a socially inept figure who happens to love dangerous situations. His people, a warrior race, operate entirely on the literal plane, as illustrated by the following exchange. When Rocket described Drax’s inability to understand metaphors, Drax replied, “Nothing goes over my head! My reflexes are too fast. I would catch it.” See what I mean? Drax needs a video game that satiates his kill frenzy while catering to his unusual sense of humor and shaky grasp of the English language, and I know just the one.
Let the bodies hit the floor
Bulletstorm isn’t a narrative masterpiece. It doesn’t tug at your heartstrings or change your perception of gaming. Its appeal is much simpler, much more visceral. Bulletstorm is an over-the-top, shoot-fest bathed in the crude immaturity of an archetypal pre-teen locker room. It’s akin to the comedy series South Park having a video game baby with the Fast & Furious franchise. That ladies and gentlemen is Bulletstorm in a nutshell.
Considering Drax is often overcome with child-like exuberance in the heat of battle, he’ll be jumping for joy when he’s kicking gun-toting bad guys into spike walls, sniping airborne enemies in the crotch, and incinerating opponents with firework grenades. Each outrageous kill method comes with its own equally ridiculous point value and title. Whether Drax would be able decipher these figures of speech remains to be seen. But let’s be real, “Assplosion” and “Meat Fountain” are funny whether taken literally or symbolically. Bulletstorm is all that and a bag of explosive chips, a tasty gaming snack for Drax the Destroyer and Drax the Gamer.
89P13, Rocket Raccoon
What has small dexterous paws, a distinctive facial mask, a fluffy banded tail, and a penchant for cleverness? Certainly NOT a raccoon, or at least, not as far as Rocket is aware. Subject 89P13 may look like the familiar nocturnal scavenger, but the similarities end there. Beneath the façade of fluff and cuteness, Rocket is another example of tragic past meets uplifting future; a reoccurring motif throughout the Guardian’s cinematic universe. Genetically enhanced and given sentience, Rocket’s backstory is analogous to that of Frankenstein’s Monster. He endured unspeakable experiments for years, physically torn apart and put back together as a living test subject. It’s not surprising that those experiences left their mark.
Often bitter, sarcastic, and cynical, Rocket the gun-slinging mercenary is the tech genius of the bunch and resident pessimist. Along with his partner-in-crime Groot, the pair made a formidable team completing odd jobs and skirting the line of legality prior to joining the GotG. From professional criminal to galactic hero, Rocket’s razor-sharp intelligence, tactical mind, and engineering savvy are formidable skills regardless of the occupational context. He might have some learning to do in the hero-department though, and I know a video game duo that can show him the ropes. Rocket Raccoon, meet Ratchet and Clank.
Practically alternate reality versions of Rocket and Groot, Ratchet and Clank are two space-faring heroes with a long list of accolades. Since 2002 the duo has saved the galaxy dozens of times. They stopped a maniacal mad scientist who sought to destroy all organic life, they put an end to a colonization plot spanning the entire galaxy, and they even fixed the space-time continuum. They might not be in the Guardians of the Galaxy but they are literally guardians of the galaxy.
The games themselves can be a little hard to define, because they often combine a myriad of different genres and mechanics into one game. They’re action-adventure games, third person shooters, 3D-platformers, semi-open world titles with racing elements, space battles, customization options, mini games, collectibles, and more. There’s a little something for everyone including Rocket. Besides similar names and cuteness factors, both the super raccoon and the cat-Like Lombax are weapons specialists with a passion for exotic armaments. Ratchet’s arsenal boasts an epic assortment of weaponry ranging from the R.Y.N.O Rip Ya A New One launcher to the saw-like Spiral of Death, while Rocket’s trusty Laser Cannon can be described as, “the juiciest killware seen in ages.”
While there are certainly memorable characters in the realm of anthropomorphic flora—the iconic grass Pokémon Bulbasaur, J.R.R. Tolkien’s ancient Ents, the Legend of Zelda’s Great Deku Tree and Koroks—I would argue that sentient plant life of this caliber is few and far between. When it comes to our last Guardian of the Galaxy, let’s just say that Groots don’t grow on trees…in a matter of speaking.
A member of the species Flora colossus, Groot is a tree-like creature and metaphorical teddy bear with a heart of gold. Despite a sweet disposition, the GotG’s walking houseplant is no push over. He can be just as deadly as Gamora and easily as ruthless as Drax, especially if his friends are in danger. And with super strength, damage resistant skin, regenerative healing, and the ability to morph his body into different shapes, he’s one fibrous cookie. Like a Hawaiian pizza or a salty sweet snack (YES pineapples belong on pizza), Groot’s personality is in delightful balance. He’s warm and kind, battle-hardened and fierce, child-like and comical, and an epic hero. In celebration of his gentle spirit and his kinship with Mother Nature, I have the perfect game for Groot, Flower.
The power of nature is unbeleafable
Flower is a game that embraces beauty and emotion over traditional gameplay. There are no battle sequences or shootouts, no dungeons or puzzles; Flower is as basic as it gets yet still remarkably profound. The player controls the wind, and starts by blowing a single flower petal through varying environments. When steered toward nearby flowers, the solitary petal causes the vegetation to burst into life, erupting in a mosaic of petals that follow behind the original. As you enliven the world, transforming barren landscapes to lively green fields for example, the music dynamically responds to your actions, changing as you enrich the landscape.
With Groot’s kindhearted nature, it’s easy to imagine the gentle giant not only playing a game like Flower, but being inspired by it. If he wasn’t busy being a Guardian of the Galaxy, I think Groot would thoroughly enjoy bringing life and happiness to the world in the form of natural beauty. Creating flowers is in his skill set after all.
Hypotheticals are fun right? Considering just how often the universe seems to be in peril, it’s probably a good idea that Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot don’t take up gaming on a more regular basis. But if our Gamers of the Galaxy do ever get a break chasing bad guys and saving lives, I’ll be ready with an even bolder list of personalized video game suggestions for a marathon of galactic proportions.
Now it’s your turn, what other games do you think the Guardians of the Galaxy members would play?