With great power...
GamesRadar has a lot of love for our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. We appreciate the Wallcrawler so much that weve already listed the top 7 reasons Spider-Man makes a great game character. But what about when Spidey actually appears in games? Well, not all of them could be called the best games ever, but it isnt hard to rank the 25 best Spider-Man games ever made. (By the way, never forget the hyphen in Spider-Man. Write Spiderman, and everyone will think youre a poser.)
After reviewing more than 30 years of video games, weve narrowed down Spider-Mans best digital adventures to these select titles. We included both solo games and ensemble appearances, and for the purposes of ranking this list, focusing on the Spider-Man mythos counts a lot. So if Peter Parker is a bit player in a great game, expect that title to rank a little lower than another great title that digs deep into Spideys long history. We start with...
25. Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects
EA had big plans for a Marvel game of its own, developing a fighter featuring big name heroes and an invasion of killer aliens known as the Imperfects. The gameplay is inspired by Super Smash Bros., Power Stone, and other chaotic fighters of the era, though EA didnt do the best job of embracing that gameplay. While the fights could get intense, the camera is pulled so far back that its hard to follow the action in the bland, dingy arenas, which were almost as unremarkable as the Imperfects themselves.
Compared to some of the other heroes, Marvel Nemesis handled Spider-Man relatively well. His moves and voice acting were accurate enough to the comics, and his limited cutscenes at least got his relationships with Venom and Human Torch correct. Ultimately, Nemesis is more boring than terrible, and thats enough to rank over some of the truly awful games Spider-Man has appeared in.
24. Spider-Man/X-Men: Arcade's Revenge
If you were a kid in the early 90s, the concept of this game was enough to get you bouncing off the walls with excitement. After appearing in multiple solo games, Marvels most popular characters were now costarring in the same game.The box art promises Spidey and the mutants fighting their most famous rogues, but the rather backwards gameplay of this 16-bit title doesnt come anywhere close to what you hoped for.
Despite being on SNES/Genesis, the design is closer to the flat platformers of the NES era, sticking Spider-Man and the four X-Men in a handful of plodding, punishing themed worlds. Spider-Mans stages are certainly better than Storms underwater mazes, though Spidey is cursed with an unhelpful Spider Sense that emits an annoying buzz whenever an enemy is within striking distance. On the plus side, this is hardly Spider-Mans worst platformer (check out this Game Boy titles if youre curious), and the monotonous action is backed by some awesomely 90s music.
23. The Amazing Spider-Man: Web of Fire
The 32X was one of a number of Segas mid-90s misfires, but youd think that the 32-bit add-on would get a boost from an exclusive Spider-Man game. Unfortunately, the 32X had a small install base and an even smaller library of games, meaning Sega discontinued the system the same year Web of Fire came out. This unlucky game saw a very limited release, making it a highly collectible title, but dont make the mistake of thinking its some lost gem just because people are charging $400 for it on eBay.
Web of Fire is from the same mold as Segas previous Spider-Man titles (more on those later), with average stages full of nameless thugs and doomsday devices. The web-slinging is adequate thanks to Sega sticking to its own Spider-template, but its actually worse than the publishers previous arachnid efforts, partly thanks to a failure to use the 32Xs power appropriately. Comic fans will find slight pleasure seeing Spider-Mans super friend Daredevil make a non-playable appearance, becoming a level-clearing bonus attack after Spidey saves him early on.
22. Marvel Super Heroes in War of the Gems
First off, no, this isnt Capcoms original arcade beat em up. Released around the same time, this SNES original sees Capcom repurpose the concept of its fighting game into a sidescroller that many missed the first time around. It stars multiple Marvel heroes, including a Spider-Man thats moves with more agility than hed had in any previous platformer, showing Capcom understood the character better than most of his previous developers.
You play through multiple levels in search of the six Infinity Gems, beating up a ton of evil super doppelgangers along the way. The platforming design is unmemorable, but the combat--inspired by Capcoms fighters--makes up for that deficiency. Its a fulfilling puchfest in the mold of Final Fight (though not as good), and Spider-Man is one of your best playable choices in this battle against Dr. Doom.
21. Spider-Man: The Movie
Fans had been waiting so long for there to finally be a proper Spider-Man film, and Sam Raimis blockbuster holds up pretty well in the years since its 2002 release. Thats less true for the game based upon the film, as its once-impressive graphics have aged poorly, along with its too simplistic gameplay. But you have to give it credit for high production values.
The game brought in most of the films cast to retell the story of Peter Parkers journey from nerd to savior of New York City. The plot follows the film--only with way more random thugs getting beat up--and the gameplay is styled after the earlier PlayStation game that Neversoft did so well. However, while Spider-Man: The Movie may look better than its PSOne predecessor, the movie licence means sacrificing much of the personality and fanboyish love that made Spider-Man (2000) great. We prefer nods to deep continuity over Tobey Maguires wooden acting any day of the week.
20. Marvel Avengers Battle For Earth
Spider-Man has been a core member of the Avengers for over a decade in the comics, despite the fact that he doesnt appear anywhere in the billion-dollar film franchise. Fans may never see him on the team in movie theaters, but they do get to see Spider-Man take part in games like this one from Ubisoft. Based on the hit Secret Invasion comics storyline, Battle for Earths simplified fighting gameplay cant compare to the depth of its Capcom competition, but its better than people expect from its Kinect-based gameplay.
Spider-Man and the rest of the Avengers get in motion-based battles against evil alien clones, giving a storyline excuse for Spidey to beat the tar out of fellow heroes. The 2.5D action focuses on timing and flailing around as accurately as possible, which feels silly until you see it translate into a fairly involved combo on-screen. If you come in with lowered expectation (and dont pay full price), Battle for Earth ends up an enjoyably simple diversion for Marvel diehards.
19. Spider-Man and Venom: Separation Anxiety
Maximum Carnage has a number of problems, but the beat em up came at just the right time to capture comic fans excitement over anything that starred any combination of Spider-Man, Venom, and Carnage. Publisher Acclaim knew it had a hit on its hands, and quickly got to work on a follow-up built on quantity over quality. Maximum Carnages two symbiotes were replaced with an army of gooey aliens to defeat.
Ripped straight from the pages of then-current comics, Separation Anxiety fails to capture the same buzz as Maximum Carnage, most likely because it wasnt as good. The levels werent as interesting, the combat was more punishing, and the number of cameos and story nods werent as exciting. However, even though the sidescrollers appeal was wearing thin, we have to admit that two player co-op with Spider-Man and Venom was fun for the first couple hours.
18. Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro
After a long layoff, Spider-Man games were made current again thanks to Activision and Neversofts Spider-Man game of 2000. Activision had a new franchise on its hands, which of course meant an annualized Spider-Man release the next year, only Neversoft went back to working on Tony Hawk games. That meant the late-era PSOne sequel got passed off to Vicarious Visions, which led to an unfortunate drop in quality.
Enter Electro plays about the same as the title before it, starring a quick-witted Spider-Man swinging around NYC in search of the electric super villain thats planning to steal some otherworldly device. The game has the playful nature of the original, but it lacks the same polish, and has a much worse collection of bad guys to fight. Enter Electro does have the interesting footnote that its final battle had to be altered weeks before its October 2001 release to excise an appearance by the World Trade Center in its final boss battle.
17. The Amazing Spider-Man
The Spider-Man films saw a reboot in 2012, retelling Peter Parkers early adventures to some audiences that were only introduced to the character just ten years earlier. The Amazing Spider-Man game does a similar job of reintroducing fans to a concept theyre already familiar with, dropping Spidey into an open world version of Manhattan for the first time in years. We were happy to see this gameplay return, but the game had little new for the Wallcrawler to do in the Big Apple.
The citywide swinging felt almost as natural as before, but the action is built around a repetitive series of objectives that arent all that different from Spider-Mans first open world game--beating up thieves, transporting people to hospitals, etc. The closed off world of the film also saps a lot of the fun intrinsic to setting other Spider-Man games in the larger Marvel universe. Amazing Spider-Man gets bonus points for taking place after the film, meaning it tells an original story instead of forcing fans to watch Uncle Ben get shot for the 100th time.
16. Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage
In the early 1990s, comic readers were enamored with Spidey's newest villain, Venom. He became popular enough to begin starring in his own series as well as becoming a hero of sorts, co-starring with Spider-Man to battle Venom's progeny, the murderous Carnage. The massive comic book crossover where it all happened was called Maximum Carnage, the same title as the Genesis/SNES game it inspired.
These days the game doesn't hold up all that well, but it's still worth remembering based on its devotion to the source material. Stages and enemies were ripped straight from the comic page, all set to a soundtrack by alternative band Green Jell. It may be a frustrating Final Fight clone, but at least it respected the continuity.