The Top 7... Reasons Spider-Man games are amazing

We celebrate our beloved web-swinger just as he's turning 50

Face front, true believer

Though Spider-Man has been a part of gaming since the Atari days, we'd say he's only been a gaming superstar since the late 1990s. What makes Spider-Man one of the greatest video game protagonists on top of being the greatest comic book hero? First of all...

7. Perfect set of powers for gaming

Many potentially great comic book games are held back by the immensity of the heros powers. The Flash can move faster than light, Mr Fantastic can stretch for hundreds of feet, and dont even get us started on Superman. Meanwhile, Spider-Man fits the mold of being plausibly super enough to be spectacular but not impossible. The proportionate agility and strength of a spider is easy to capture in combat or exploration (as is wall crawling and web slinging) and his Spider Sense can be used as a guide in unclear settings. The newest game based on the Amazing Spider-Man film takes pretty much all the best uses of his powers from past games and ups the ante by adding the new Web Rush, a first person view that further enhances Spideys agility, automatically flinging him from perches all around NYC.

Worst Example: Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage. Outside of difficult wall crawling segments, it simply captured Spideys ability to walk to the right.

6. Webbing is incredibly versatile

On top of his innate spidery powers, Parker is mechanically enhanced with his quite handy webbing. With a touch of his fingers and a simple thwip Spidey shoots strands of web from his wrists for a million different purposes: swinging, insulation, catching crooks just like flies. Web of Shadows had the best use of his webs for stringing together combos, but it was current Spider-dev Beenox that really embraced the possibilities of his web fluid. They gave regular old Peter Parker webbing-based combos that shifted the size and shape of his webs into mallets and maces, while Noir Spider-Man used his webs to stealthily capture henchmen from the shadows.

Worst Example: Spider-Man (PlayStation). Putting webbing on your fist to punch harder? *rolls eyes*

5. Incredible history to pull from

Like the majority of famous Marvel heroes, Spider-Man has been around since the early 1960s and in his 50 years of existence hes had some of the most memorable comic stories of all time. Every Spider-Man game draws on those in one way or another, whether expanding Venoms symbiote into a city-wide plague or watching the Shocker rob a bank. Shattered Dimensions embraced that history on a whole new level by including three different alternate universes from Spider-Man history, all fully formed worlds. 2099s techno future, Noirs sepia toned colors, and subtle cel shading of the Ultimate world all coexisted perfectly and they were just the beginning of alternate takes on Spider-Man that gamers wanted to see. Shattered Dimensions proved that Spider-Man has such a rich background, a game can succeed even if you only play as the real Peter Parker 25% of the time.

Worst Example: Spider-Man: Friend or Foe. Made for kids only familiar with the films, Friend or Foe denied itself one of the heros greatest strengths by sticking to the casual film universe.

4. He has so many amazing friends

Spider-Man's core cast of characters is so rich that sometimes it's easy to forget he's part of the insanely deep Marvel Universe. In the Spidey movie tie-ins this gets ignored, but in the comic games Parker hangs around many of his super friends. Spider-Man for PlayStation and Maximum Carnage featured loads of cameos in the early days, but it was 2008's Web of Shadows that really made us feel like part of the Marvel U. WoS's New York skyline included Avengers Tower, which was appropriate as Spider-Man's fellow Avengers like Luke Cage, Wolverine and Moon Knight interacted with Pete just as they would in the comics. It might not have had the most cameos, but it did the best job of making Spidey feel like part of something bigger.

Worst Example: Spider-Man Arcade. Namor and Hawkeye are pretty much the last people Spidey would have a Marvel team-up with.

3. A rogues' gallery that rivals Batman's

While Batmans enemies get all the big press, in comic book history Spider-Mans rogues gallery is at least second to Bats in terms of quality. He may not have The Joker, but enemies as varied as Green Goblin, Venom, Electro, Doc Ock, Mysterio and Sandman have proved their awesome evilness for decades. Each Spidey game pulls from enemies great and small (usually with a predictable Rhino fight), best of all being Shattered Dimensions' multiple universes allowing for massive boss battles with more than a dozen Wall-Crawler enemies ranging from The Vulture to Juggernaut. Not only did the developers pull from all over Spider-Mans mythos, but the alternate universe concept led to never before seen interpretations of previously used enemies.

Worst Example: Spider-Man: The Game. Based on the first film, the enemy list was basically limited to Green Goblin and professional wrestlers.

2. Best fan service in gaming

Some (not all) comic book fans obsess over continuity to such a degree that it makes the most hardcore of Final Fantasy lovers look like social gamers. Comic readers like seeing their devotion recognized and rewarded with the kind of winks and cameos that are in most comic book games, be they Arkham City or X-Men: Destiny. But ever since Neversofts cameo-heavy Spider-Man on the PlayStation, Spidey games have been continually trying to top themselves with references to classic Spider-tales. Shattered Dimensions is to date the best at it, not only because of the multiple worlds stripped straight from the comic pages, but with smaller touches too. Above youll see just some of the obscure (but beloved) unlockable costumes from that game, plus the voice cast was filled with talent that had been working on Spider-Man cartoons for decades. And we doubt any future Spidey title will beat the lovable weirdness of the games closing Spider-Ham cameo, though wed love to see someone try.

Worst Example: Spider-Man: The Game. Sadly trapped with referencing the only the film, only Bruce Campbell's cameo can save it from total failure.

1. The Big Apple

Since his creation Peter Parker has always been a part of New York. Whether he's swinging through Manhattan, fighting on the George Washington Bridge or visiting Aunt May in Forest Hills, it isn't truly Spider-Man without New York. And once Grand Theft Auto popularized sandbox games, Spidey moved into a fully open world NY, NY. Established in Spider-Man 2, Ultimate Spider-Man's remains the best version of the Big Apple. It looked ripped straight from the comic page, covering its vast real estate with copious and varied tasks, and felt alive with multiple appearances of Spidey characters great and small.

Worst example: Spider-Man 3. Perfectly captured the lameness of the film with the same name.

'Nuff said

If you want to learn more about super heroics, take a look at the best superhero games of all time and the top 7 comic book games that need to be made.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Henry moved from the suburbs of northern Florida to work at GR+, and hasn't looked back once in seven years. When not collecting Mario toys, you can find him constantly checking his Twitter.
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