Even though other comic book entities are ruling game systems this summer (“Thor” came out last week and games based on the X-Men and Captain America flicks aren’t far behind), it won’t be long before Spider-Man comes swinging back onto the scene. Following the release of last year’s very successful “Shattered Dimensions,” the webslinger returns in the upcoming “Spider-Man: Edge of Time,” where he teams up with Spider-Man 2099 to avoid being knocked into non-existence.
And that got us thinking — Spider-Man has been in a lot of video games, hasn’t he? Sure, some fared better than others (the buggy Atari 2600 version where he battled a pitiful-looking Green Goblin comes to mind), but the overall exposure has been better than most superheroes (*cough* Aquaman *cough*) have received. To celebrate his legacy, either on his own or alongside others, CBR proudly presents the Top 10 Spider-Man Video Game Appearances.
10: Maximum Carnage
(Super NES, Sega Genesis)
Loosely based on the comic book storyline released in 1993, Acclaim’s 1994 superhero brawler lets you play as either Spider-Man or Venom, his symbiote archival, as they set out to stop Carnage from overtaking the city. The game features appearances from a number of Marvel characters, including Black Cat, Captain America, Doppleganger and Carrion, among others. Its gameplay is kept on a simple “Final Fight” level, where you brawl with enemies and eventually face Carnage himself, with the city’s fate hanging in the balance.
“Maximum Carnage’s” adherence to the comic book storyline (without getting to the point of unnecessary expansion) is one of its strong points, along with a soundtrack provided by rock band Green JellÃ¿ and comic book style artwork throughout the game. Acclaim also produced the game’s first print on limited edition red cartridges, so they stand out in a collection compared to the typical black and grey ones. The game fared so well that Acclaim immediately went to work on a sequel, “Separation Anxiety,” which came out a year later. Though it wasn’t nearly as good, it satisfied comic book fans looking for a fight.
9: Marvel Pinball: Spider-Man
(PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade)
Earlier this year, digital game publisher Zen Studios capitalized on what would no doubt be a successful financial venture, teaming with Marvel Studios to produce a quartet of superhero-licensed pinball tables. Wolverine, Blade and Iron Man each received their own dedicated tables, but there’s something special about Spider-Man’s. On this particular playfield, players shoot balls at a variety of targets, including enemies that are perched overhead (like Doctor Octopus) and an upper level where they can safely swing onto a roof. Provided they hit the ball right, of course.
“Spider-Man’s” table design is absolutely impeccable, including charcters from J. Jonah Jameson screaming for justice (like always) to a who’s who of villains challenging Spidey in battle. And, of course, he wouldn’t be the wall-crawler fans know and love if he didn’t crack wise to such threats. Zen Studios has done a stupendous job designing all of these tables, and the Spider-Man one is a vital ingredient. “Marvel Pinball” is still available for only $9.99, either sold separately on PSN or as part of the “Pinball FX 2” line-up on Xbox Live.
8: Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2
(Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii)
It isn’t often that you see the Marvel universe at war with itself, but that’s precisely what happened in Activision’s “Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2,” which came out last year. Loosely based on activities that took place in the “Civil War” comic book series, the game opens with a fight that culminates in a huge explosion, killing a number of civilians. As a result, the government blames the heroes and enacts a Superhuman Registration Act. You get to choose which side you fight on — those in favor of the Registration (joining Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic) or those against it (such as Captain America and Spider-Man).
Along with a compelling storyline that twists and turns throughout the game, “Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2” features an interesting Fusion fighting technique, where two team members can combine their powers to form a devastating attack. Spider-Man plays a huge part in this, using his webbing in a variety of creative ways. You can also upgrade abilities and unlock new characters in the game. If you’re a Spider-Man fan who hasn’t checked this out yet, you certainly should. It’s lots of fun, especially when you’re playing alongside friends.
7: Ultimate Spider-Man: Total Mayhem
Released last year for Apple’s iOS devices, “Ultimate Spider-Man” is a fun 3-D platforming adventure, where players take control of the web slinger’s fighting abilities as he battles such familiar foes as Rhino, Green Goblin and Venom. You can activate a number of Spidey’s abilities by tapping on items located on the touch-screen, such as punch and kick attacks, a special spinning punch maneuver and, when prompted, indicators for web swinging.
Normally, action games don’t translate well to the iPad for some reason, mostly due to its touch-screen nature. However, Gameloft has done a splendid job with the game’s controls. The graphics also look terrific, especially during intense combat scenarios. In one scene, you’ll battle Venom atop a moving train, avoiding his attacks while waiting for the key moment to counter-attack. If you’ve got one of Apple’s handheld devices, devote yourself to a little “Mayhem.” It’s only seven to ten bucks.
6: The Amazing Spider-Man vs. the Kingpin
(Sega Genesis, Sega CD)
Spider-Man needed a boost in the early 90’s when it came to video games, as he didn’t really have a strong presence on the Nintendo Entertainment System at the time. Leave it to Sega to release a top-notch side-scrolling action game featuring the web-slinger, for both its Sega Genesis and Sega CD consoles. In the game, Spidey battles a cavalcade of super-villains on his route to stopping the Kingpin, including Sandman, Hobgoblin, The Lizard, Electro and, of course, Venom.
The gameplay is fun and the graphics look great, but what really makes Spider-Man stand out amongst the others is its superb final battle. Mary Jane gets nabbed, and while fighting off the Kingpin, Spider-Man has to keep webbing at a chain holding her so that she doesn’t drop into a lava pit. The game actually features multiple endings depending on how well you do in this battle. The Sega CD version features a few extra enhancements, including new abilities, new enemies (the Vulture and Mysterio) and a soundtrack headed up by Eric Martin of Mr. Big fame. Whichever version you get, though, you’ll have a swinging time.
5: Spider-Man: The Video Game
Along with the home versions, Sega also produced an arcade game featuring Spider-Man and his friends, to compete alongside Data East’s “Captain America and the Avengers.” In the game, you choose from one of four characters (Spider-Man, Hawkeye, Black Cat and Namor the Sub-Mariner) and fight your way through thugs and familiar enemies as you head towards your climactic battle with the Kingpin.
While featuring side-scrolling battle sequences similar to “Final Fight and other Capcom games of that nature, Spider-Man The Video Game” also features zoomed-out action segments, where players work their way through a stage using projectiles and platforming techniques. It’s this kind of change-up in gameplay that really made “Spider-Man: The Video Game” stand out at the time.
Also, on a quick side note: Hawkeye appeared in both “Spider-Man: The Video Game” and “Captain America and the Avengers.” Timely!
4: Marvel Vs. Capcom series
(Arcade, Dreamcast, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
Following the release of its quite popular “X-Men: Children of the Atom” arcade game, Capcom furthered its partnership with Marvel and produced a number of sequels, including “Marvel Superheroes” and “Marvel Superheroes vs. Street Fighter,” both of which featured Spider-Man. But it wasn’t until the company produced “Marvel Vs. Capcom” in 1998 that things really started to pick up. Featuring over 15 playable characters and dozens of secret side characters, the game became a huge hit amongst fighting fans.
So, of course, two sequels followed. “Marvel Vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes” arrived in 2000, featuring exquisite 3-D backgrounds and even more characters, such as Cable and Jill Valentine (from Resident Evil), though Spider-Man remained a prominent part of the cast. The game received high marks and also got dedicated home releases for PlayStation 2, Xbox and Sega Dreamcast. It resurfaced in 2010 as a digital download release for Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, for the unbeatable price of $15. But Capcom topped themselves once again earlier this year, when it released “Marvel Vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds,” a new retail release that, again, featured Spider-Man along with a number of other characters. If fighting games are your bread and butter, then you’ll eat these games right up.
3: Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions
(Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii)
What’s better than one Spider-Man? How about four? “Shattered Dimensions” features four unique versions of the wall crawler in one enormous adventure, all tied in to a mysterious woman named Madame Web, who’s out to collect some rare stones that somehow tie in to a bigger threat. Amazing Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2099 (making his video game debut) and Ultimate Spider-Man all appear in the game, along with Noir Spider-Man, a nifty 40’s-like superhero who relies more on stealth than flamboyant web-slinging action. Don’t worry — it works really well for him.
There are so many cool aspects of “Shattered Dimensions,” it’s hard to name them all. The fact that Neil Patrick Harris supplies the voice for Amazing Spider-Man is awesome, along with the ability to knock enemies around up-close-and-personal with your fists. But, really, some of the in-game boss battles are simply amazing. Whether you’re battling a cybernetic Green Goblin while falling through futuristic space tunnels, or matching wits with Deadpool while competing on his life-or-death reality TV show, there’s always something interesting that pops up. And then there’s Spider-Ham — but, hey, we’ll let you discover that for yourself.
Prior to the release of this game, the developers at Neversoft Entertainment were simply referred to as those “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater” guys, since they were behind the popular skateboarding series at the time. But following this game’s release, gamers respected them for trying something completely different. In this epic 3-D platforming adventure, Spider-Man has to battle a variety of super villains while keeping the city — and its citizens — safe from harm. The game features a number of Spidey’s abilities that hadn’t been put into games before, such as crawling around ceilings and walls and effectively using webbing to tie up bad guys.
In addition, Spider-Man also has the ability to track down hidden comic books in each stage, which are actually replicated from real issues. And if that isn’t enough nerd nirvana for you, Stan Lee provides voice-overs, calling out for “true believers” before the start of each stage. And, of course, we crack up whenever we hear “Surf the web, surf the web!” from Venom. This is one Spider-Man game that devoted fans shouldn’t miss.
On a side note, Neversoft did pay tribute to Spider-Man in “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2,” not only including him as a playable character in the game, but also producing a video with a skater in a Spidey suit. Track it down if you can.
1: Spider-Man 2
(Xbox, PlayStation 2, GameCube)
If there is a game that truly sums up the experience of being to play as Spider-Man and do exactly what he does, it would have to be Spider-Man 2. Based on the 2004 blockbuster of the same name, the game lets you control Spidey’s actions however you see fit, tackling side missions that range from recovering a kid’s balloon to battling thugs in random criminal acts. It has a storyline as well, one that lets you fight against Doctor Octopus and a number of other enemies from the Marvel Universe.
And it does so with a fantastic game engine that doesn’t skimp in the least. You roam through miles of city territory, swinging across chasms, buildings and bridges as you track down criminals and deliver swift, web-slinging justice. The gameplay is almost second nature, letting you perform all sorts of athletic feats. The visuals look great too, and you can’t lose with the audio portion either — especially with Bruce Campbell providing in-game narration. That’s Mr. “Evil Dead,” right there!
With hours worth of gameplay, unlockable goodies and a never-ending package of fun and exhilaration, “Spider-Man 2” will have your Spidey Senses tingling better than any other game out there. Get to swingin’, tiger.