It’s just about time to head to theaters to see Spider-Man: Homecoming, the latest film from Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios. This promises to be one of the web-slinger’s best movies to date (if not the best), and it ties in with a legacy that fans have loved for years.
That legacy has spread over to video games over the past few years, with a number of great efforts that put us in control of Spidey’s awesome abilities, from web slinging to crime fighting. It’ll no doubt continue when Insomniac Games releases its Spider-Man game for PlayStation 4 next year.
For now, though, let’s celebrate the legacy of some of the best Spider-Man games that you can play right now. From the good ol’ days to some better efforts as of late, you’ll find plenty of Spidey love to go around!
Note: We’re talking about the full-on Spider-Man games. Of course he made appearances in other great titles, like Marvel vs. Capcom and Lego Marvel Super Heroes, but this list is about celebrating his solo adventures.
If we’re going to talk quintessential Spider-Man video game experiences, then we have to go with Treyarch’s highly impressive open-world adventure, which graced game consoles during the same time that Sony’s Spider-Man 2 film hit theaters. The reason this game succeeded so much is because it provided a bevy of missions based on the film, but also a sandbox-style setting where you could do everything from rescuing stray balloons to stopping getaway cars to engaging in beat-em-up action with thugs. And, seriously, you can’t go wrong with a game that features training from the man, Bruce Campbell.
Following the success of the first two games in its Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater franchise, Neversoft Entertainment was tasked with bringing the web-slinger to the PlayStation in full 3D fashion. It highly succeeded, creating a game that was fun to play, whether you were crawling around on the ceiling, waiting to ambush criminals, or taking on familiar foes like Rhino and Venom, who has one of the best lines in the game (he yells “SURF THE WEB!” while Spidey sits in front of a computer). Not only is this game a blast to play, but it captures the genuine nature of the comic books. And, of course, Stan Lee has a voiceover. “Excelsior!”
We talked about this game last week, and for good reason. Beenox made a smashing debut with this entry in the franchise, giving us control of a quartet of different Spider-Men characters, including the debuting Noir Spider-Man. It made fine use of an open world to explore, while at the same time offering distinct touches for each different hero, particularly the zippy Spider-Man 2099. That might explain why the team brought him back for a follow-up, Spider-Man: Edge of Time, which came out a little while later. Still, Dimensions remains its definitive work. I mean, you can’t go wrong with a game that features Spider-Ham…
Following the success of Spider-Man 2, Treyarch decided to take its Spidey design back to the old-school, going with more of a comic-style cel-shaded look for Ultimate Spider-Man – not to mention sticking with a younger Peter Parker. The end result turned out to do quite well, keeping the open world exploration while, at the same time, presenting a great new dynamic with fresh combat and challenges. You can take control of Venom as well, beating Wolverine to a pulp and engulfing people whole – even kids! – as you suck their energy and leave them lying on the sidewalk. Let’s see a game like Maximum Carnage do that.
Out of all of Treyarch’s efforts with Spidey that have come out over the years, one still manages to stand out – Web of Shadows. Not only did it introduce some new gameplay mechanics to the series with the symbiote black suit, but it also told an excellent story, involving all sorts of characters from the Marvel universe. Not only that, but the combat was probably the best that the series had seen to date, whether you were pummeling Carnage’s thugs on the ground, or even attacking from the side of a building. I’d love to see a follow-up to this gem someday.
There was nothing like playing arcade games in the early 90’s, with multiplayer favorites like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Data East’s Captain America and the Avengers. But Spider-Man: The Videogame stood out, not only because of its satisfying beat-em-up action, but because it literally had every single villain from the Spider-Man universe included, from Venom to Kingpin. Plus, it has great secondary characters, as well as stages that zoom out in-between the beat-em-up sequences so that you can shoot enemies from afar with webs and other projectiles. This one’s certainly a winner – and it deserved a solid home translation, but never got it.