Believe it or not, there was a time in Spider-Man video games when you weren’t able to just swing anywhere you wanted in a faithful recreation of Manhattan. Back in the day, most superhero video games consisted of the player picking a character and moving sideways through a level while beating up tons of goons before facing a level boss at the end.
These older games helped pave the way for the current crop of superhero video games like “Batman: Arkham Knight,” which owes a lot to the old Batman games, and “Injustice: Gods Among Us,” which wouldn’t exist if not for the old Justice League fighting game. The old superhero games had fun art and stories, borrowing heavily from the comics with, usually, great multiplayer action. Let’s take a look at the 15 best superhero video games for the Super Nintendo.
15. THE ADVENTURES OF BATMAN AND ROBIN
“Batman: The Animated Series” is one of the most beloved superhero properties of all time. So, it makes sense that the video game based on the series holds a special place in the heart of many SNES gamers. “The Adventures of Batman and Robin” is held in high esteem by classic gamers. Loosely based on various episodes of the animated series, the game used many of the things that worked in the series and translated it into a video game.
“The Adventures of Batman and Robin” featured side-scrolling gameplay that put players in the role of Batman as he navigates levels based on classic episodes of the series. Fighting various villains like Joker, Two-Face, The Riddler and even Harley Quinn (she makes a couple quick appearances), Batman uses the various gadgets in his utility belt, solves puzzles and beats up bad guys. Still to this day, over 20 years after the game was released, many gamers consider this the high point of SNES superhero video games.
14. MARVEL SUPER HEROES IN WAR OF THE GEMS
“Marvel Super Heroes in War of the Gems” is one of the best Marvel video games of all time. Back before all the fancy graphical advancements of today, most superhero video games just showed your character going side to side fighting tons of villains. Perhaps the best of all these games was “War of the Gems.” Loosely based on the “Infinity Gauntlet” series, “War of the Gems” told the story of Adam Warlock coming to Earth to recruit five heroes (Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, Wolverine and the Hulk) to help him locate the missing Infinity Gems before Thanos gained control of them.
Before each level, players chose a character and fought their way through, getting a gem at the end. However, there was strategy involved, as the health meter for each character continued over through each level. Once a character “dies,” he must be revived before being used again. Even if the game was garbage, which it wasn’t, it would be a winner, due to the awesome cover art from none other than Glenn Fabry!
13. JUSTICE LEAGUE TASK FORCE
Superhero fighting games are commonplace nowadays. Back in 1995, though, there wasn’t much out there if you wanted to see your favorite superheroes fight each other. Then “Justice League Task Force” came out, and gamers were given the chance to pit their favorite DC superheroes against each other to see who would reign supreme.
The game’s story sees Darkseid attacking Earth, with the player choosing a member of the Justice League to track down the other League members. As the player encounters each member, they fight your hero. After defeating each member of the League, you realize that they were all androids, and not the actual heroes. Then, like in any fighting game at the time, you must fight an evil version of yourself before facing Darkseid. The game is far from the best in regards to graphics and gameplay, but “Justice League Task Force” was the first time that players were able to use DC characters in a fighting game.
12. WOLVERINE: ADAMANTIUM RAGE
Wolverine has been a character featured in many different Marvel videogames. However, he was never the star of the show. That changed in “Wolverine: Adamantium Rage,” where players controlled Wolverine as he fought tons of enemies and began to learn more about his past in the Weapon X program. The game featured many of the villains that Wolverine fans knew and loved; however, the SNES version of the game had one big omission — Sabretooth.
While most of the game is very similar to superhero games of the time, with the side-scrolling beat ’em up action, “Wolverine: Adamantium Rage” brought a couple new things to the table that made the game stand out from the pack. First and foremost, the game introduced a regenerating health bar, used to mimic the character’s healing factor. Also, the game allowed Wolverine to use his claws to not only kill enemies, but also climb walls and the ceiling. There was also the inclusion of a time limit, wherein if the player didn’t beat a certain number of enemies in time, the game was over.
11. MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS
“Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” for the Super Nintendo was released at the height of “Power Rangers” mania in 1994. The game allowed fans to play as their favorite Ranger and battle through Rita’s Putty enemies while working their way to the end-boss. The gameplay was similar to most other superhero games of the time, but the levels followed a structure that was used in the show.
When players begin, they chose one of the five Rangers. Beginning in their human form, they fight through the enemies until they reach a boss battle. Once they reach a boss, they morph into their Ranger form and fight. After defeating a number of boards, the final levels are when the Rangers must band together to form Megazord and defeat a large boss. The game mechanics changed for this, resembling more of a fighting game with health meters. The popularity of the game would allow for multiple sequels throughout the ‘90s.
10. TMNT IV: TURLES IN TIME
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turles IV: Turtles in Time” was the first time the SNES got a TMNT game. Like previous games, “Turtles in Time” was based on a popular arcade version. The SNES version allowed for players to choose which Turtle they wanted to be and fight through members of the Foot as they get closer to the big boss battle.
Gamers probably remember the throw mechanism from the game. When one of the Turtles would throw an enemy, the game would show the enemy fly towards the screen and smash into the screen. In the arcade game, this was a random occurrence, but in the SNES version, players could do this at will. Also, the game didn’t focus solely on the side-scrolling levels. “Turtles in Time” added wrinkles to the level design, such as a level that consisted of an elevator ride. The SNES version also gave gamers additional game modes such as a “versus” mode and “time trial.”
9. THE INCREDIBLE HULK
If you look at all the superhero games from the SNES days, they might all start to look the same. Other than the different characters, the level designs and objectives are fairly similar throughout all the games. What set the good games apart were the added features that they would give gamers that differentiated the game from the pack. “The Incredible Hulk” SNES game looks just like most of the other superhero games at first glance, but when you play the game, you start to see how unique it actually is.
Instead of just being the Hulk throughout the story, the game made sure that players would have to revert back to Banner at certain points. His reduced size meant that players could get into tighter areas that Hulk just couldn’t. However, when in Banner form, the player is really vulnerable and only has a laser gun to protect himself. “The Incredible Hulk” also introduced multiple endings to superhero games. Based on the difficulty level, the ending would be different. To get the true ending of the game, players would have to beat it on “hard” difficulty.
8. X-MEN: MUTANT APOCALYPSE
Similar to “The Incredible Hulk,” “X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse” decided to take the standard superhero game and put its own spin on it. The story was straightforward and similar to most X-Men games of the era. Xavier brings together his X-Men to rescue people on Genosha. Once they’re done with Genosha, Xavier learns that Magneto plans to destroy the island, so the X-Men train and go on one last battle against Magneto.
What set “X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse” apart from previous superhero games was the structure of the story. The initial set of Genosha levels could be completed in any order. Players chose one X-person for each level, eventually moving on to two “boss battles” in the Danger Room for training. After defeating all of the previous levels, players had to choose which X-person to send to the final level. Each character has a different version of the final level, before facing Magneto and Exodus. This created the need for players to beat the game with each character to beat the game entirely.
7. THE DEATH AND RETURN OF SUPERMAN
Some of the best superhero video games from the ‘90s came when the developers adapted a previously published comic book storyline. “The Death and Return of Superman” is a game from 1994 that retells the incredibly famous “Death of Superman” story from the comics. Throughout the game, players are given the chance to play as all the key characters from the story, including Steel, Cyborg Superman, Superboy, the Eradicator and Superman himself.
Due to the fact that the game is telling a very specific story, players aren’t given the chance to pick which character they want to use. Each level is designed with a specific Superman character in mind. However, even though the player is using very different characters throughout the game, each one has a similar fighting style. The most memorable part of the game is probably the ability of flight that each Superman character has. Instead of running and jumping around a level, most levels either require flying or have portions where flying is the preferred way of moving around.
6. BATMAN RETURNS
“Batman Returns” was a highly anticipated game when it was released in 1993. A version of the game appeared on just about every gaming console at the time, with the SNES being arguably the best version to be released. Featuring a gameplay style that wasn’t very original at the time, the game could have been just a cash grab that capitalized on the success of the film. However, the game rose above the preconceived notions and was actually pretty darn good fun.
It featured levels that were based on different scenes from the film, and predominantly featured Batman fighting members of Penguin’s gang while working his way towards a boss battle at the end. What set “Batman Returns” apart from other games was the gameplay, which was some of the best for a side-scrolling action game at the time, as was the music, which was adapted from the amazing Danny Elfman film score. “Batman Returns” also features a Batmobile level, where players drove around shooting enemies.
5. SPIDER-MAN / X-MEN: ARCADE’S REVENGE
While not the best Spider-Man game (more on that later in the list) and definitely not the best X-Men game, “Spider-Man and the X-Men in Arcade’s Revenge” is a fun side-scrolling action game that adapts one of the lesser-known X-Men comic book storylines. Playing as Spider-Man and four of the most popular X-men, players work their way through multiple levels designed to resemble Arcade’s Murderworld.
Where else are you going to find a game that features huge villains like Carnage and Apocalypse, while also having deep cuts like Selene and Master Mold? “Arcade’s Revenge” features a story that isn’t as well known as “The Death of Superman” or “Infinity Guantlet,” which opens its story up for greater discovery, even to hardcore fans. Each level is unique and surprising, with Arcade pitting characters against some of their classic villains. The finale of “Arcade’s Revenge” features Spider-Man facing Arcade with little assists from the X-Men. Sure, it’s not the best game featuring the characters, but “Arcade’s Revenge” is a treat for players who want something a little out of the ordinary.
4. CAPTAIN AMERICA AND THE AVENGERS
“Captain America and the Avengers” is a classic beat’em up arcade game that made its way to the SNES. Featuring gameplay that was similar to other arcade games at the time, the players would control characters as they could move around freely throughout a level beating up bad guys. What makes “Captain America and the Avengers” special is the fact that it didn’t feel the need to include the standard ‘90s-era popular heroes, instead focusing on deep cut characters not seen in other games.
Back before Marvel owned the big screen, Captain America, Iron Man, Hawkeye, and the Vision were barely recognizable characters to people who didn’t read the comics. That didn’t stop developers from releasing a game featuring those characters and famous Captain America villains such as the Red Skull and Crossbones. The game also was one of the first to feature “assist” characters that would pop in from time to time to help your main character. “Captain America and the Avengers” is a great SNES game for fans of the comics who want to see appearances by Wonder Man, Namor and villains like the Grim Reaper.
3. BOOGERMAN: A PICK AND FLICK ADVENTURE
“Boogerman: A Pick and Flick Adventure” is as crass and ridiculous as you might imagine. One of the only video games on the list not to be based on an existing superhero property, “Boogerman” puts players in control of a character that uses his burps, farts, and of course, boogers, to defeat his enemies. Honestly, what else would you expect from a game called “Boogerman?”
The story is a tale as old as time. Well, not really. Snotty Ragsdale is a wealthy businessman and part-time superhero named Boogerman. As Boogerman, Ragsdale must travel to Dimension X-Crement (Get it?) and battle a mysterious villain who stole a very important power source. As we mentioned, the player is actively encouraged to use Boogerman’s fouler body emissions and products to defeat enemies. When it’s needed, Boogerman can even “fly-fart” in a level. “Boogerman” has become a bit of a cult classic, with the creators trying to revive the game with a Kickstarter campaign. Ultimately, they weren’t successful, but the dream lives on! Maybe one day, the world will experience the adventures of “Boogerman” once more!
2. CAPTAIN COMMANDO
Captain Commando has a history that predates his first appearance in a video game. Created to be the “spokesman” for Capcom, the character was seen in the various game manuals released by Capcom during the NES years. Eventually Capcom decided it was time to develop a full game based on the superhero and “Captain Commando” was released in arcades.
The SNES port of the game was very similar to the arcade version. Due to the system’s limitations, the game had minor changes, but players were still able to control Captain Commando and his Commando Companions throughout their adventure. The gameplay isn’t especially memorable, but the characters sure are! Captain Commando is your classic futuristic hero, but his Commando Companions are definitely unique. The team was comprised of a mummy-like alien, a super powered ninja and finally, a genius baby that uses a robotic suit of his own making to defeat enemies. With a genius baby named Baby Head as a playable character, the game immediately jumps near the top 15 of the best superhero games on the SNES.
1. MAXIMUM CARNAGE
SNES owners who played “Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage” might not remember the game as much as they remember the cartridge. Instead of the classic grey SNES cartridge, “Maximum Carnage” was originally sold in blood red. It’s also perhaps the most faithful adaptation of a comic story ever to be seen in a video game. “Maximum Carnage” is probably one of the best Spider-Man games to be released at the time, and definitely the best on the SNES.
Featuring both Spider-Man and Venom as playable characters, the game follows the same old gameplay that was the standard of superhero games in the ‘90s. However, “Maximum Carnage” stands out for a variety of reasons. Not only is it badass to play as Venom, but the game also features cut scenes that were lifted almost directly from the comics. Featuring art that was inspired by specific panels from the comic storyline, “Maximum Carnage” is one of the most memorable superhero games ever. “Maximum Carnage” also holds the distinction of being the first Spider-Man game to garner a “teen” rating.
What was your favorite superhero game for the SNES? Let us know in the comments!