Spider-Man is one of the most famous superheroes of all time. You'll find him everywhere - from t-shirts to lunch boxes. He's had five successful films with another one on the way. He's been the star of quite a few TV shows and most importantly: he's been the face of Marvel as a whole. Since his debut in 1962, he's appeared in thousands of comics. The primary reason why Spidey is loved worldwide is simply this: he's a great character. His origin is a classic, and his catchphrase is cemented in popular culture. Spider-Man represents someone making a difference, putting others above himself, and fighting the good fight. It's no wonder that he's been the star of numerous video games.
Spider-Man has been starring in video games since the early 80s. His first venture into the gaming world was on the Atari 2600, where he climbs buildings to eventually stop the Green Goblin. From there, Spidey would go on to appear in side-scrollers, beat 'em ups, and 3D platformers. Out of all the Marvel characters, Spider-Man has the most games. This makes sense, because who wouldn't want to control a character with such a diverse move set? Plus, Spidey has one of the greatest rogues galleries in comics, so there's always the potential for epic storylines. For this list, we'll be taking a look at the 8 greatest and 7 worst Spider-Man games. Unless otherwise stated in the entry title, a game will always refer to its bigger console version. (As an example, if a game is on the DS, PS2, and PS3, it will refer to the PS3 version.) As Spidey says in the awesome Marvel Super Heroes fighting game, it's "Showtime!"
Released in 2008, Spider-Man: Web of Shadows was a big game. It uses similar gameplay to Activision's previous titles. This time, however, the gameplay is a lot more explosive and easily one of the most fun in the series. Equally notable is the story. All the modern Spider-Man games have an emphasis on the plot, but Web of Shadows was the first to give us a dramatic, emotional storyline. Venom is the antagonist, and he infects New York with Symbiotes.
The intro sets the tone well. We have somber music playing as Spidey walks head down as S.H.I.E.L.D. agents fend of Symbiote attackers. The game soon takes us back in time to where it all began. It then slowly, but not too slowly, builds to where New York became a quarantine zone. Web of Shadows serves as an excellent "final" Spider-Man vs. Venom story. This is one of Venom's greatest appearances, as we learn that Eddie Brock has lost control of the Symbiote.
The game features some awesome guest stars (Luke Cage, Wolverine, Moon Knight) and an interesting morality system. Almost all the boss fights are good, and free roaming through a Symbiote-infested Manhattan is a fun change of pace. (Did I mention that the player can switch between Spider-Man's normal costume and his Symbiote one at will?) The game could have used a bit more polish, and Spidey's voice isn't that good. These things don't stop Web of Shadows from being one of the best games in the franchise.
Beat 'em up games always have the danger of becoming too repetitive. Sadly, Spider-Man: Friend or Foe falls into that hole. The game isn't terrible (and can be fun if you have someone to play with), but overall it just isn't worth your time. The story is unique, mainly because it uses the characters from the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man films. We have James Franco's New Goblin, Alfred Molina's Doctor Octopus, Topher Grace's Venom (thankfully in Venom's case the design was made beefier) and a couple of others. There are also some cool guest stars (such as Iron Fist) that jump in to help later in the game.
By the middle act of the game, beating a certain amount of enemies to proceed grows tiresome. The game has a nice look to it, however, and if you're a fan of Spidey, you'll probably have some fun, at least in small doses. Out of all the Spider-Man games though, Friend or Foe is definitely on the lower side of the list.
Spider-Man: Edge of Time is the second Spidey game developed by Beenox. Unlike the company's first game, Shattered Dimensions, Edge of Time focuses solely on two of the Spider-Men. Out of all the Spider-Man games to date, Edge of Time has the most cinematic storyline. This is the main reason why the game is good, though the combat deserves praise as well.
The story moves at an excellent pace, featuring some awesome characters (Anti-Venom gets a great role) and a really cool plot twist on who the CEO behind Alchemax is. The banter between Amazing and 2099 brings some good laughs. The scenery does get a little dull, however, since the game takes place indoors. (After awhile the player misses swinging through the city). The game is also too short. Still, Edge of Time's movie-quality story and fun combat earns the title a high recommendation.
Up until recently, video games based on comic book films were a staple. In 2007, the final Tobey Maguire Spider-Man film released. Alongside it, a video game was produced. Like the previous Spider-Man movie games, Spider-Man 3 adapts the source material while also adding in original stuff such as new subplots and villains. It was also the first Spider-Man game on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii. So, one could imagine the anticipation, especially after how acclaimed the Spider-Man 2 game was. Spider-Man 3, unfortunately, wasn't quite as good as its predecessor.
Spider-Man 3 isn't a bad game. Web slinging is fun as always, and the game even improves on a few aspects of the movie. (Venom was much better, and him blackmailing Sandman was one fun scene.) The problem is that the game does little to improve upon Spider-Man 2. The combat is extremely basic, and the graphics don't look all that impressive. The addition of quick time events was good, but it's not enough to call Spider-Man 3 a fantastic game.
Who doesn't enjoy spending a few hours in the arcade? From Pac-Man to Duck Hunt, there are always a lot of fun options. A popular genre of coin-operated arcade games is the side-scrolling beat 'em up. Spider-Man had one such game from SEGA in 1991. Though not much different from other arcade games of similar nature, (if you've played the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade games, you know what to expect) it's still a lot of fun. Plus, the game does add one unique feature: the gameplay switches from beat 'em up to platforming.
The game features bright levels and plenty of fun boss fights. (We get Green Goblin, Kingpin, Dr. Doom, among others.) Sure, the gameplay is simple, but there's something really nice about being able to jump in and start attacking enemies. Then, of course, to prevent the game from becoming repetitive, the screen will zoom out so the player will be able to continue in a traditional platform style.
Some games, despite being very old, have stood the test of time. Super Mario Bros. released in 1985 and still plays great today. On the other side, some games have not aged well at all. Even back then some of these weren't very good. In what is the wordiest title on this list, Spider-Man and Captain America in Dr. Doom's Revenge pits the two heroes against Doom in a side-scrolling adventure. The concept is the only good thing about this game.
Honestly, the game looks like it was made in Microsoft Paint. The game plays very slowly, and there's no soundtrack to speak of. It is admirable that it uses so many obscure comic book characters (Oddball anyone?) and even a boss fight with the Hulk. (Though he was actually an illusion created by Mysterio.) But, this game has become long forgotten for good reason.
Based on the acclaimed comic book series of the same name, Ultimate Spider-Man is one of the most unique games on this list. Activision took the formula from Spider-Man 2 to deliver a memorable Spidey experience. The story takes place directly after the comic arc "Venom," putting the player right at the scene where Peter confronts Eddie in the school field. The game then tells an original story, putting the player in control of both Venom and Spider-Man.
Right from the onset, the most unique thing about the game is the aesthetic. Whereas Activision's previous two games mimicked the films' realistic look, Ultimate Spider-Man resembles a comic book come to life. The story is a lot of fun, featuring some nice twists one wouldn't expect. (How about Peter becoming Carnage?) The boss fights are very challenging, perhaps the most challenging of any Spider-Man game. The most notable aspect is the ability to play as Venom. His perspective on the story is interesting, and his gameplay is similar to Hulk's in Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. (Though it's sadly not as destructive as that.) With the Ultimate line of comics finished, it's unlikely the games will ever revisit this version of Peter Parker, making this game a novelty for today.
A year after Ultimate Spider-Man came out, Activision released another game set in the Ultimate universe. Spider-Man: Battle for New York puts the Green Goblin as the major antagonist. Unlike Ultimate Spider-Man, Battle for New York is only on the small consoles. This doesn't have to be a bad thing, but unfortunately, this game is probably the weakest Spider-Man game on the DS and Game Boy Advance.
There's nothing special about Battle for New York. The combat is simplistic, and the graphics are only somewhat decent. (The first Spider-Man movie game on the Game Boy Advance four years prior looks just as good, if not better.) The only notable feature about Battle for New York is the ability to play as the Green Goblin. This can be fun, but ultimately there's not much to it. The game is an okay way to pass the time, but Activision's other Spidey Game Boy titles are better options.
After Spider-Man game review scores started dwindling to average/mediocre, developer Beenox stepped in to breathe new life into the character. In 2010, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions released and received mostly positive feedback. The game's big innovation is the ability to play as four Spider-Men. We have the usual Amazing Spider-Man, the Ultimate version, Noir, and 2099. It's an awesome concept that makes Shattered Dimensions one of the most notable games in the franchise.
Each of the Spider-Men have separate gameplay styles. Amazing is similar to what was seen in previous games, but improved. The combos are awesome and set the standard for the games after Dimensions. 2099 features high-octane free falls and a great futuristic setting. Noir is all about stealth, which is a nice change of pace. (Also, the old school 1930s look adds to the atmosphere.) And finally, getting to attack as Symbiote Spidey in Ultimate is always a lot of fun. The boss encounters are memorable. Who can forget getting up close against Kraven or the intense buildup to Carnage? The story is enjoyable, though Mysterio being the antagonist was dull. (He was already the main villain in two previous games.) As a whole, Shattered Dimensions is a blast, especially for longtime Spider-Man fans.
Unless someone really enjoys the retro beat 'em up games, it's going to be hard to like Venom/Spider-Man: Separation Anxiety. Released in 1995 on the Genesis and Super Nintendo, the game serves as the sequel to Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage. Both of these titles follow the Double Dragon formula. Maximum Carnage isn't a five star title, but it did have comic book cutscenes to advance the story. Separation Anxiety doesn't even have that, giving the game a low budget feel.
Separation Anxiety is more of the same, with virtually nothing to set it apart from its predecessor. The plot isn't as engaging as it should be, thanks to only blocks of text for advancing the story. The game does, however, feature two player co-op. So if you had someone to play with, this would be the game to get. Otherwise, it's just Maximum Carnage, but not as engaging.
The Amazing Spider-Man: Lethal Foes released in 1995 on the Super Famicom. Notice how I said Super Famicom and not Super Nintendo? That's because the game is a Japanese exclusive. It's a shame, because Lethal Foes is probably the best Spider-Man game of the 90s.
The gameplay for Lethal Foes is similar to other Spider-Man side-scrollers. It, however, isn't a beat 'em up like Maximum Carnage and Separation Anxiety. Instead, it's like the Game Boy Advance games or the other 2D games in the 90s. (If you've played the Spider-Man Animated Series game, then you have a bit of an idea what Lethal Foes is like.) The platforming is a lot of fun, and the graphics are outstanding. (It's probably the most bright looking Spider-Man game of all time.) The level design is good, and there are plenty of awesome boss encounters. Hopefully one day this obscure title will make its way into the eShop worldwide.
2012 was an interesting year for Spider-Man fans. It saw the release of a brand new film, a reboot titled The Amazing Spider-Man. Alongside it, a video game based on the new continuity released. Beenox, the developer behind Shattered Dimensions and Edge of Time, returned to create The Amazing Spider-Man game. On the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, the game featured stunning graphics and combat reminiscent of the Batman: Arkham series. The story was incredibly boring, but the game was fun enough. Beenox also created a version for the 3DS. This version (not the PS3/Xbox 360) was ported to the Wii. This was a huge mistake.
The 3DS version of The Amazing Spider-Man has a few differences from its Sony/Microsoft counterparts. A big difference is that there's no New York free roam in the 3DS; instead, there's a simple mission select. This is forgivable on the small console, but it's definitely not forgivable on the Wii. Both Spider-Man 3 and Web of Shadows for the Wii had free roaming, so there's no reason why The Amazing Spider-Man doesn't. The graphics also look terrible in comparison to its HD PS3/Xbox 360 counterparts. It's just sad that the Wii version of the game is lesser than its console counterparts.
Video games based on movies have a negative reputation, which is probably why they aren't in abundance anymore. Repetitive combat, mediocre graphics, and an overall "cash-in" feel are some of the reasons why a lot of film games have received negative feedback. These things don't apply to Spider-Man 2's video game adaption. Released in 2004, Spider-Man 2 the game was an achievement for the character. It set the standard for all the future games, and is the definitive game based on a movie.
Like the first Spider-Man film game, Spider-Man 2 adapts the movie's storyline while also adding in new subplots and villains. No one can forget chasing Black Cat or Mysterio's awesome design. The greatest thing about the game is free roaming through New York City. This is the first time that the player is able to swing through Manhattan. (I remember spending hours roaming through the big city.) The combat is solid, making excellent use of the spider-sense. The game is challenging and provides an overall satisfying experience.
A few entries up we talked about the rather slow moving side-scrolling game Spider-Man and Captain America in Dr. Doom's Revenge. Now we have another game playable on the Amiga, among other retro computers. This one is simply titled "The Amazing Spider-Man." Interestingly, it's more of a puzzle game than an action platformer. Sadly, it takes that slow moving gameplay from Dr. Doom's Revenge.
If one has some spare time, The Amazing Spider-Man could make for a challenging day. The puzzles are interesting, but with how slow Spider-Man moves, they can be annoying. Spidey doesn't really attack anyone outside of stunning enemies, so this is definitely not a game to play if you enjoy beating up opponents. Almost as bad as the slow-moving gameplay is a nonexistent soundtrack. You'll play levels that are mute, save for some sound effects. (There's also a catchy menu theme.) Many other games on the Amiga have good soundtracks, so there's no reason why this Spider-Man game doesn't. With faster gameplay and actual music, this older Spidey title could have been one of the more interesting.
For every series that transitioned into 3D, there was a game that changed everything going forward. As an example, prior to Super Mario 64, the Super Mario series was primarily known for its side-scrolling. This changed when Mario 64 was released, which featured Nintendo's mascot in his first 3D platformer. In 2000, a game simply titled Spider-Man was released on the PlayStation. It is a revolutionary Spider-Man game, and the most fun.
For the first time, players got the chance to web sling in 3D. Though the graphics are a bit dated, the game plays great. Combat is solid, and there's a lot of genuinely challenging objectives. Who doesn't remember carrying the giant bomb at the bank heist? How about evading helicopter fire while climbing up a building? The hardest might be the heart-pounding escape from a Carnage-infused Dr. Octopus. The greatest aspect of this game is the story.
Right from the opening cutscene with an impostor Spider-Man attacking a seemingly reformed Dr. Octopus, players know they're in for a treat. The story moves at an excellent pace where quite a few characters from the Spider-Man comics appear. You'll battle Scorpion, Rhino, Mysterio, among others. Venom gets an awesome role as well. The voice acting is excellent, (as one would expect since some of the voice actors did work on Spider-Man: The Animated Series and Spider-Man Unlimited) and the writing is stellar. In terms of his character, this is Spider-Man's finest outing to date. One can tell a lot of heart was put into this game. A remake or HD port would be welcome.