Spider-Man is one of the coolest and most popular characters around. We’ve brought him to movies, television, and even attempted to bring him to theater (although that didn’t work out so well). He’s a beloved character with interesting powers, bright colors, and a quick wit — what does that sound like? A video game character! Spider-Man is perhaps the most perfect superhero to make a videogame, which is perhaps why there have been so freaking many! Some have been good, some bad, but all of them filled to the brim with Spider-Man action.
Insomniac’s new Spider-Man game looks to be a hit. With nothing but a trailer, everyone is raving about it. It looks to be one of the best if not the very best Spider-Man game ever made. But what about the ones that came before? Were any of them worth it? Well, we’re here to take a look at some of the old Spider-Man games and tell you about the worst of the worst and the best of the best! WARNING: The best one is also one of the best games ever made, so, you know, high competition for Insomniac. If this inspires you to go out and play all of these games, all we can say is we feel you. Here’s to web-swinging, pals.
15. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN PC GAME
The Amazing Spider-Man PC Game gets the place of worst on our list because not only is there nothing noteworthy about it, but it also came out after some of the original forays into digital thwippery. If it had come out first, it might get higher, but as it is, sadly its quality is immediately suspect. The game came out in 1990 for the Amiga, a Commodore PC, and was later ported to others.
The entire game is simple and bland and, look it’s really just bad. There’s no humor and no fun, which seems like a necessity in a Spidey game. The plot has you trying to save Mary Jane from Mysterio while getting through rooms that are dressed up like various films, because Mysterio worked on films, get it? Even if you’re a diehard Spider-Man game fan, skip this one.
14. SPIDER-MAN ATARI 2600
This game is bad but it’s also the very first, which is why it’s not relegated to the very bottom of the list. Spider-Man, coming out for the Atari 2600, was awesome — because all games were awesome back in the halcyon days of 1982. But a game where you play as Spider-Man, swinging around a building, attempting to save its citizens from bombs planted there by the Green Goblin? That’s especially awesome.
To be clear, the only reason this game is so low on our list is because it’s so rudimentary and basic. Almost every single Spider-Man game that’s come after has featured some variation on this type of gameplay — hunting down bombs on a building — but we gotta show this one some respect. A lot of games that came after this one were more fun, but this is the game that showed everyone how cool being Spider-Man was.
13. SPIDER-MAN: RETURN OF THE SINISTER SIX
Spider-Man: Return of the Sinister Six is another early Spider-Man game, coming out in the early ’90s. It was released for the NES in 1992 and later came out on the Sega Game Gear and Master System. Unfortunately, all of that money was wasted as this game kinda blows. Despite it being based on an awesome comic story about Doc Ock attempting to take over the world, and the game looking absolutely beautiful, the controls were so abysmal that absolutely nothing could help overcome its un-playability.
It’s a simple side-scroller where you defeat the Sinister Six, but it’s so bad that at a certain point you’ll just go, “All right, guys, end the world, whatever.” Remember game designers, with great power comes great responsibility — and that includes making a good game.
12. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2
The Amazing Spider-Man 2: The Movie: The Game came out in 2012, for Playstation 3 and Playstation 4, Wii U, Xbox 360, XBOX One, and Microsoft Windows. It was developed by Activision, which made some other awesome Spider-Man games that we’ll discuss in a minute. Sadly, though, this one wasn’t up to snuff. The game features basically the same plot of the movie — Electro fighting alongside Weird Goblin Kid for some… reasons ? Unfortunately, it had even worse graphics.
It didn’t manage to improve on any concerns of the older games and was basically just a quick cash-grab, right before Activision’s Spider-Man license expired. If you for some reason love the Amazing Spider-Man movies so much you can’t wait to relive them… you’d still be better off just watching the movies again.
11. SPIDER-MAN AND THE X-MEN: ARCADE’S REVENGE
Some of you probably don’t know this, so quick word of warning — Arcade in the title isn’t some cool Meta reference to the fact that this is a video game. No, Arcade is the name of a game-themed supervillain, who most often bugs the X-Men, but will occasionally attack other heroes as well. Arcade’s Revenge came out in 1992 for the Genesis and the Super NES, and features the ability to play as four different X-Men — Storm, Wolverine, Gambit and Cyclops — along with Spider-Man. Each character gets two stages, and once beaten all of you team up together to take down Arcade. It’s not a particularly good or bad game. If you’re a fan of SNES beat-em-ups, you might like it, but it’s definitely nothing to write home about. Not the worst, but nowhere near the best.
10. SPIDER-MAN: FRIEND OR FOE
This is the first game that arguably is an actually “good” game. Spider-Man: Friend or Foe came out in 2007, for Xbox 360, Wii and the Playstation 2. The game is inspired by the Spider-Man films but with its own storyline revolving around Venom. You play as Spider-Man and defeat other villains — and as you do, you gain them as your allies, because of course you do, that’s how comics work.
You can also team up with characters such as Lizard, Blade, Silver Sable, Black Cat, and Iron Fist. It’s a fine game, with some humor, and it’s definitely playable. However, it’s nothing super special and while it doesn’t deserve endless scorn, no one will be in line to heap praise on the game either. Not bad, but it could be better.
9. SPIDER-MAN: THE MOVIE
Now we’ve reached the first objectively “good” game. You can still argue about whether or not this game is good or not, but it is definitely one thing — and that’s fun. It’s a very playable game that takes inspiration and story from the original Sam Raimi Spider-Man film and has you running around Manhattan, getting ready to fight Green Goblin, and taking on some other non-movie villains in the meantime.
This game, released for Xbox, Playstation 2, and the Gamecube in 2002, is the first game to really get Peter’s sense of humor — even featuring Bruce Cambell as your narrator. It was the first time you played a game as Spider-Man and you could see the world as full: it wasn’t just a stage, it actually felt like Manhattan.
8. EDGE OF TIME
Ah, finally, an Activision Spider-Man game that’s fun. Spider-Man: Edge of Time was written by Peter David, a pretty prolific Spider-Man writer, who also created Spider-Man 2099, one of the main characters of the game. This one works as a sequel to a slightly better game we’ll mention in a bit, but it’s still incredibly fun.
In addition to web swinging action, this game released for Wii, PS3, and Xbox 360 in 2011, features a cause-and-effect system where the two Spiders can affect each other across the streams of time. If you’re looking for a fun time with a Spider-Man game, with tons of lore, great costumes, and fun, then you’ll dig this game (although, again, probably not as much as the one that came before it).
7. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN VS. THE KINGPIN
Amazing Spider-Man vs The Kingpin came out on all Sega systems in the early ’90s — so, Master System, Genesis and Game Gear. It’s a pretty fun side-scroller that has you battling all of the Sinister Six, plus Venom and the Kingpin, as you must fight your way to keys that you can use to prevent a nuke from going off in the middle of Manhattan. It’s filled with fun characters and side-scrolling action, but the main reason it’s this high is because when it came out it wasn’t just a phenomenal Spider-Man game, it was a game-changer. Playing it now, it might not hold up as well, but when it first came out, there was nothing like it. We also have to pay it respect for holding true to the little-known fact that before he was Daredevil’s major villain, Kingpin was a Spider baddie first!
6. SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED
Half of you probably have this game on whatever mobile device you have, so you know that Spider-Man Unlimited is as close as you can really get to “endlessly fun.” It’s a free runner — a genre of games popularized by Temple Run, where you run… endlessly… and jump over obstacles that crop up in your path. However, this game also adds web swinging and even boss battles.
It’s a fun, waste of time game that probably would have scored lower on this list if not for the incredibly in-depth amount of lore it has. There’s no end to characters, storylines, and events this game references, adapts, or includes. If you’ve never read a comic before, you could learn everything that ever happened in a Spider-Man comic merely by playing it. And for those of us who are fans, it’s a beautiful treat.
5. SHATTERED DIMENSIONS
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions (which came out in 2010 for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Wii) is, odds are, at least a couple of people’s favorite Spider-Man game, and for good reason! It’s one of the most interesting and in-depth Spidey games out there. It also features a killer cast, including Neil Patrick Harris! Not only that, but it features four different Spider characters, each of whom has a different Universe, play style, and story.
The game tells the tale of four different Spider-Men joined together to help heal a rift in reality from the breaking of a magical McGuffin called the Tablet of Order and Chaos. Look, you can ignore the somewhat silly excuse: the game is seriously fun. Spider-Man Noir can hide and blend into shadows and shoot. Spider-Man 2099 has high tech gadgets and gliding. Then there’s an Ultimate Spider-Man possessing the Venom suit, allowing him to have higher and more devastating powers — like Venom. It’s a fun, great game, and we’d easily be okay with you disagreeing with our placing it this low. But it’s our list so…
4. SPIDER-MAN (2000)
Odds are, at least some of the people reading this list think this should be number one. It’s easy to see why. This game that came out for Playstation (with ports later coming out for the N64) in 2000 and is still one of the best Spider-Man games around. It basically defined how to do 3D Spider-Man action. Its plot deals with dozens of different supervillains, superheroes, and cameos. It even includes a combination of Carnage and Doc Ock, which honestly is enough to earn this game a life-long stand in the hall of gaming fame.
Also of note is the fact that this game was created by Neversoft, which also helmed the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series of games. As most fans know, in the second Tony Hawk game, Spider-Man appeared as a special player with his own unique moves. Honestly, that appearance is so good, it almost counts as one of the best Spider-Man games, despite not actually being one.
3. SPIDER-MAN AND VENOM: MAXIMUM CARNAGE
Maximum Carnage is based on the same storyline from the comics. The game came out in 1994, for both SNES and the Sega Genesis. The plot of the game is you — as Spider-Man and Venom — must travel throughout the city, side-scrolling style, and stop Carnage and his minions, who have taken over and are soon going to destroy the city. Along the way you can summon other heroes, but honestly, who cares because you can play as Spider-Man or Venom and they’re basically the best.
The game was so hardcore that despite coming out in the ’90s and being a superhero game, it managed to get a teen rating. For a long time, this was the only good Spider-Man game around. A lot of others have come and gone, but this one remains one of the funnest Spider-Man games and for many, is the G.O.A.T.
2. ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN
Ultimate Spider-Man (released in 2005, for Gamecube, Playstation 2, Xbox, and Microsoft Windows) the game is based (loosely) on the series, and — like the series — had its story written by Brian Michael Bendis. The plot of this game mostly revolves around Venom and Spider-Man, both of whom you can play. As Venom, you need to constantly feed to replenish your energy. Oh, by feeding, we mean eating people.
You can switch between Spidey and Venom as you free roam throughout the city, tackling missions and also doing whatever the heck you want — including eating people. The game’s story was so good that Bendis would later adapt it back into the series, making this a game based on a comic that inspired a comic based on a game based on the comic.
1. SPIDER-MAN 2
Spider-Man 2: The Movie: The Game does not only boast one of the longest titles of any of the Spider-Man games, it also boasts the crown. Nothing is better than this game. Spider-Man 2 (for short) came out in 2004 for Gamecube, Playstation 2 and Xbox. It’s a free roaming game loosely based on the movie featuring Doc Ock. Like the movie, Peter has to get to class, work his low paying jobs, take pictures of Spider-Man, juggle his relationships with his family, and of course fight crime. But the best thing about it is the swinging system.
There is nothing more fun, nothing that makes you feel more like Spider-Man, then swinging around Manhattan, climbing to the top of the tallest towers, jumping off, and then swinging again. If you had this game, odds are you spent most of your time aimlessly swinging around, having the time of your life. While the new Insomniac Spider-Man game looks good, it will have to be pretty close to perfect to dethrone this Spider-King.
What was YOUR favorite Spider-Man game of all time? Give us your own ranking in the comments!