It’s safe to say that most games based on comic books are pretty bad. There have been some standouts on both the DC and Marvel side, but by and large they’re mostly terrible. If you look back at the true retro era, which is to say the NES and SNES days, consoles were lousy with licensed based games. And again they weren’t very good. So it’s very, very easy to make fun of them. In fact, two of my first articles published for TheGamer were about awful Marvel and DC games. I plugged away on at least fifty games, or so and it was actually difficult to narrow down which ones were funnier to write about. That is to say I had a lot of leftover content. Finally, at long last, I’ve mustered up the strength to do a sequel on the Marvel side with a slight twist. I’m also going to be talking about ten amazing Marvel games.
With Spider-Man PS4 finally out, we're all just sinking our teeth into one of the most anticipated Marvel video games of all time — so how about a change of pace. For now, let’s check out some hilariously bad and some wondrously good Marvel games. Needless to say, for a lot of us, these are the games we grew up with, so we're making fun of them with a wink a nod.
30 Best: Marvel Vs Capcom 2
Marvel vs Capcom 2 might be the best fighting game since Street Fighter II. It has an amazing cast from both companies, the controls are super tight, and the sprite work is second to none. Why they decided to retire this style is beyond me. Some people can’t appreciate true art I guess. My friends and I had no idea what we were doing in college, but we had a blast anyway. Whatever platform you find this on, buy it immediately.
29 Embarrassing: Deadpool
Before we had Deadpool in theaters, we got a solo game seemingly out of nowhere. It wasn’t used to promote anything at all except the character. It’s not the worst Marvel game out there. It nails the character pretty spot on, but the downside is actually playing. It’s your average run of the mill superhero hack and slasher. The strangest part of all this is its PS4 port. Who wanted that? I give High Moon Studios kudos for trying, but they needed more time.
28 Best: Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions
Spider-Man is known to hop around dimensions. The best representation of this in video game form is Shattered Dimensions. In it, you play as four different versions of Spider-Man.
Welcome to the Spider-Verse.
There’s the typical hero, a black and white noir one, a futuristic Spider-Man, and a tough symbiotic one akin to Venom. While it doesn’t hit every mark it’s a novel idea that mostly pays off. The best part is definitely the art direction. I’d love to see a modern console port.
27 Embarrassing: X-Men Destiny
Silicon Knights, the developer behind X-Men Destiny, sure has had some rocky times. They gained a lot of good faith when they made Eternal Darkness and the Metal Gear Solid remake, both on GameCube. Everything after that is a mess. This was their last game before going under and it’s plain to see why. Despite the fact you can choose one of three characters, they don’t feel unique with their personalities, or powers. This was a rushed job to be sure and it had a lot of potential.
26 Best: Disney Infinity 2.0 Marvel Super Heroes
What haven’t I said about this game yet? If you haven’t read my piece about under-appreciated PS4 games, or watch my glowing review, or any other article I may have mentioned this in, well, here it is again. Disney Infinity 2.0 is amazing! The one thing against it is the expense, but that was at release. Now you can find the starter packs and additional figures in bargain bins everywhere. What are you waiting for? Go buy some toys and smash stuff!
25 Embarrassing: Marvel Puzzle Quest
Yes, this is how I want to play out my superhero fantasies...with a puzzle game. It makes no sense, but then again if I were a marketer trying to make money for Disney I would slap Marvel’s heroes on anything even if it didn’t make sense.
Care for a game of Tetris, Dr. Doom?
I know, it’s an embarrassment to the name, but it made cash. A lot of cash! So who am I to judge? I like money too. It’s just, you know, a terrible game.
24 Best: Thor God Of Thunder (DS)
I need to make the distinction between this Thor movie tie-in game on the Nintendo DS and the PS3 version. We’ll get to that travesty later. For now, let me sing the praises of its portable counterpart. Most movie games stink, but not this one. WayForward, who you might recognize from the Shantae series, developed it. They specialize in making actually good movie games. I know it’s a weird recommendation, but check out Thor on DS. It might surprise you.
23 Embarrassing: Iron Man
Iron Man started the Marvel Cinematic Universe off with a bang. I just watched it recently for its tenth anniversary and it still holds up. The game, on the other hand, not so much. It was never good, to begin with. Like Deadpool, it too suffers from monotonous gameplay. It’s a little ridiculous that the MCU’s shining pillar got so poor of a game to go with it. They tried to improve with the sequel, but it too is pretty poor.
22 Best: Marvel Ultimate Alliance
Marvel Ultimate Alliance is a Diablo-style RPG — and a good one at that! You can play co-op online, or off and there are tons of heroes to choose from. Plus epic loot! The one difference between Diablo and this is that you’re not set in stone with one character. You can swap between them at base and even during missions. It was a real gem when it released well before the start of the decade.
21 Embarrassing: Ghost Rider
Another thing you may know about me, if you’ve been reading my articles, is that I unabashedly love Nicolas Cage. Even at his worst, he’s the best. Take Ghost Rider for example. That wasn’t a great movie and neither was the game. Whether you’re playing on the PS2, or PSP, this is a straight up generic God of War clone. You may not have chained blades, but you do have fiery chains that work like Kratos’ infamous Chaos Blades. Close enough, right? If you want a “better” Ghost Rider experience check out the sequel. Cage really gives it his all for that one…wink.
20 Best: X-Men Origins Wolverine
Can an awful, and I mean truly awful, film have a decent movie tie-in? The answer is yes and X-Men Origins: Wolverine is proof of that. It’s your basic hack and slash game with fast combos and unlockable moves. Like Ghost Rider, it’s also a little like God of War. What sets it apart from the movie is the blood. How can a Wolverine movie not show any blood? He has claws for hands! If you want blood, well, this game answers in buckets. Compared to the movie it’s a masterpiece.
19 Embarrassing: Marvel Nemesis Rise Of The Imperfects
One of the worst fighting games to come out is Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects. First of all, that name may strike a cord as in it’s bad. For those unaware, the Imperfect arc in the comics is about aliens.
Imperfect? Try impossibly terrible.
It’s a mind-numbing story that bewilders me to no end and why this storyline was chosen for a game I’ll never know. Setting aside the roster is lackluster and the controls make me want to hurl. I could drag this game through the mud further, but I think you get the point.
18 Best: Super Soldier
Super Soldier should just be renamed The Cap Arkham, or something along those lines. Why? It’s not a complete rip-off of the Batman Arkham series, but it does borrow heavily from it. Stealth is your best friend, for one. Second, the combat system is a brawler at heart, but it does have a nice countering system. It would have been better as an original concept like Batman’s games instead of trying to follow the movie, but it is a good game nonetheless.
17 Embarrassing: Guardians Of The Galaxy The Telltale Series
It’s to little surprise that Guardians of the Galaxy wasn’t popular before the movie, right? They are d-tier heroes in the comics at best. Thanks to the film everyone loves them now so of course, they’re going to get a game. Unfortunately, it was through Telltale’s infinite loop of story-driven games with “meaningful” choices. The studio used to be good, but they’ve been downhill since Tales from the Borderlands. They try and ape the vibe of the film, music cassettes and all, but fall short of greatness. It’s a cheap imitation.
16 Best: Marvel Pinball
I know I was pretty harsh about Marvel Puzzle Quest and I’m going to eat my own words for this one because Marvel Pinball is fantastic. Yes, it is of the same variety of slapping the Marvel characters on something for a quick cash in, but this one is actually good.
Who knew The Avengers would work so well in pinball form?
That is if you like pinball games. If you do check out all of Zen Studios’ work. They’re the best in the biz when it comes to virtual pinball tables.
15 Embarrassing: Spider-Man Edge Of Time
The sequel to Shattered Dimensions was Edge of Time. Since that was good there was a bit more expectation with this, but it traded in the unique hero swapping for some really generic time traveling stuff. Instead of fighting your way through various villains from Spider-Man’s past and traveling to new worlds you’re instead met with tons of robots and mostly stuck in one building. Disappointment doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings. This hurt me so bad. Thankfully I only rented it at least.
14 Best: The Incredible Hulk Ultimate Destruction
The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction is the best Hulk thing ever. Okay, I should say not including the comics because the source material is always going to be better. What I mean is in other media. Pretty much every game except this are garbage and the movies are pretty bland too. What makes this game so great is in the name. Hulk controls super well and you can really get that sense of chaos as you mow down enemies and crash through the city. It just feels right.
13 Embarrassing: Thor God Of Thunder (PS3)
Remember how I said the DS version of Thor: God of Thunder was good? Wel,l the HD counterpart is not. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about PS3, Xbox 360, or even the Wii version because they all share the same generic gameplay. It’s super monotonous, slow, and just poorly made overall.
The god of thunder deserves better.
Usually, the portable versions of movie tie-in are the worst ones, but this time the console editions are. This is still pretty strange to me, but there are more bizarre portable ports that are good beyond.
12 Best: X-Men Legends II Rise Of Apocalypse
Before Marvel Ultimate Alliance there was X-Men Legends. It’s pretty much the same concept only scaled down to just focus on the X-Men. As you’d expect you can swap between other heroes as you brawl through dungeons. The second one, Rise of Apocalypse, is my favorite of these four Diablo clones. The use of cel-shading really brings the heroes to life. Plus Apocalypse is just a cool villain to frame a game after. Samus, from the Metroid series, almost made it into the GameCube version. That’s a bonus fact!
11 Embarrassing: Fantastic Four Rise Of The Silver Surfer
There have been a lot of bad Fantastic Four movies, but I think Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer takes the cake. In some ways, it is a fun watch because of its campy nature, but boy do they mess up Galactus and Silver Surfer. The game is no better. Guess what? It’s a generic brawler. It tries to be a bit different by letting you swap between one of the four members, which is mostly used for puzzles. At least the movie was only two hours. Playing this felt like an eternity by comparison.
10 Best: Blade
I know what you’re thinking. Really? He’s recommending a Blade game for the Game Boy Color. While it isn’t as violent as the movie, or comic source, aka there’s no blood, it’s still a good old school beat ‘em up.
Sadly there’s no 8-Bit version of “Dragula.”
Plus Blade and his foes look really cute and the soundtrack is pretty good too. Again, I know it’s a weird recommendation, but this is a hidden gem among Marvel games. I feel the same way about it was I do Thor on DS.
9 Embarrassing: Captain And The Avengers
I played this one a lot on my SNES, but I wouldn’t call it fun. When I got a game as a kid I had to play it because a lot of the times I had no other options. I got what I got and good or bad that was it. Not sure if kids can really relate today since there are so many great free to play games out there for whatever modern console you have.
8 Best: The Punisher
Like my recommendation for Blade, this too sort of wimps another Marvel hero known for his grim comics. In the arcade game of the same name, you’ll be able to play as Frank Castle, or Nick Fury. It may feature no blood, but it’s still violent as heck. This came out at a time when Capcom was the king of the arcade scene. It’s even pretty good on the Sega Genesis port, but if you want the real deal there’s nothing like this classic arcade cabinet.
7 Embarrassing: Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite isn’t that bad. It is embarrassing though. The fighting mechanics and the roster are just as good as ever. Well, mostly. Because of the Fox movie deal with X-Men, they were not present, which is pretty lame. I just want Wolverine!
Another odd thing is the slapped together story that is excruciating to watch and the character models, especially Chun-Li, just look off. How could you let this happen to such a fantastic fighting game franchise Capcom?
6 Best: Marvel Heroes Omega
Marvel Ultimate Alliance and X-Men Legends are both fun Diablo clones. They don’t compare to the real deal though. However, what if I told you there was a spiritual successor to both of these games that ex-Diablo developers worked on? That would be Gazillion with Marvel Heroes Omega. It was a free to play game that came out first on PC. It eventually came to PS4 in 2017, but shut down soon after. Not just the game, but Gazillion closed its doors too. I don’t know why. It was so good!
5 Embarrassing: Marvel Super Hero Squad Comic Combat
In concept, I can get behind Marvel Super Hero Squad: Comic Combat. Kids need games they can play too. I’m referring to children around five, or so. You know, simple games they can play without many consequence of failing. That’s kind of what this game is like, but it’s handled poorly. You play the game with THQ’s awful uDraw Tablet, a peripheral infamous for tanking the company. I think that says it all. There’s a way to make a good game for kids without resulting to weird gimmicks.
4 Best: Marvel Super Heroes In War Of The Gems
The Captain and The Avengers was a bad retro Avengers game, but there was actually a good one: Marvel Super Heroes in War of the Gems. Ignoring the clunky name, it starred The Cap, Wolverine, The Hulk, Spider-Man, and Iron Man who were tasked by Adam Warlock to recover the Infinity Gems.
Not to be confused with the Infinity Stones because that matters…
If one hero should fall you could choose another to resume the fight on that stage. And guess who made it? That’s right, Capcom. They’re responsible for a lot of ups and downs on this list.
3 Embarrassing: Spider-Man Friend or Foe
Spider-Man: Friend or Foe is a Marvel game also aimed at a younger generation. You can pretty much tell this by the chibi versions of everyone. It shares a lot in common with the other brawler experiences on this list, but I just can't get over the fact how weird everyone looks. I mean Venom is a dark character in the comics. Making him into this kiddy grade hero feels off to me. Imagine a Call of Duty game like this where you fight a cute version of Hitler. That’s an extreme example, but you get the point.
2 Best: X-Men Arcade
One last good game to get to and yes, it’s also a beat ‘em up. I know there are a lot of these on the list, but that’s essentially what a video game based on a license turned out to be during this era. Anyway, X-Men Arcade may not look as good as some of the other brawlers on here, but it’s still fun. And like most of the arcade games you can pretty much finish it in an hour, or less. Not sure if that’s a positive, or negative.
1 Embarrassing: Marvel Super Hero Squad
It may be a bit cheap tactic to put two games in the same franchise on here, but Marvel Super Hero Squad, the predecessor to Comic Combat, is a fascinating play.
The cartoon is even worse.
I wanted a game to play with my niece who isn’t quite up to snuff to play Disney Infinity. It has a good cast of heroes to play as, I will give it that, but the creepy art is too hard to ignore. It’s also just generic.