With all the recent news and excitement surrounding the Batman: Arkham Knight, I got to thinking about how much praise was levied on the Arkham franchise–one of the few good game series based on a comic book superhero. Batman: Arkham games are great, but they are not the comic book superhero only games that are truly exceptional. Some fine games come to mind that are based on our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, of Marvel Comics fame. I’ve compiled a list of what I believe are the five best Spider-Man video games ever made. Now, there hasn’t been a truly great Spider-Man game in quite some time, and the games really peaked with Spider-Man 2. For this list, I’m specifically avoiding games that do not have Spider-Man in the title. So, that means a Marvel game such as Marvel vs. Capcom, where you can play as Spider-Man, does not count.
Honorable Mention: Spider-Man: The Arcade Game
For an older title, this is the one I want to recognize. This is a classic SEGA arcade beat ’em up with all the Spider-Man flair you could want. The game had great, fluid animation, tremendous graphics for its time, and a cast full of classic Spider-Man rogues. I lost a ton of quarters on this game back in the day, and I am still amazed by how cool Venom looks in it. For this title, you could play as Hawkeye, Namor, and Black Cat, as well as Spider-Man.
5. Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions
Of the more recent Spider-Man titles, this is probably the best. This offers the variety of getting to play as four different iterations of Spider-Man: classic 616 Spider-Man; Spider-Man 2099; Ultimate Spider-Man; and Spider-Man Noir. I like this game for its great storyline and quality voice acting, featuring actors whom had all voiced Spider-Man in previous animated shows. Each Spider-Man had its own unique play style. Overall, this was the best Spider-Man game developed by Beenox. Unfortunately, Spider-Man: The Edge of Time was a disappointment and forced Spider-Man into a closed building for the entire game.
4. Ultimate Spider-Man
This is probably Treyarch’s last great Spider-Man game, released in 2005. The game is based on the Ultimate Spider-Man comics from the Marvel Ultimate line in its heyday. This game features an open-world Manhattan sandbox, though it wasn’t as populated as Spider-Man 2. I love the graphical style of the game. Mark Bagley’s artwork literally leaps off the pages of the comics and becomes fully animated. The cel-shading look works really well here. Ultimate Spider-Man has a great story and equally great gameplay.
3. Spider-Man (2002)
This game is based on the first Spider-Man movie. Believe it or not, this is a great movie-based game and also a great Spider-Man game. Treyarch was really just scratching the surface of what they would later accomplish with Spider-Man 2, but this title is still notable. True, this game still has Spider-Man swinging webs from clouds in the air, but no developer figured out how to resolve that until Spider-Man 2. Still, the web-slinging works very well here. I really enjoy this game for the combat and all of Spider-Man’s special combos and attacks. Plus, it has the added value of the ability to play as the Green Goblin. Or rather, you play as an alternate version of Harry Osborn with the Green Goblin suit; but you get to use the glider and all the fun Goblin weapons.
2. Spider-Man (2000)
Playing this game for the first time over 14 years ago in a Toys ”R” Us was a visceral experience. This is probably the first Spider-Man game of the modern era, or perhaps the first Spider-Man game period, that truly captures the essence of playing as a hero like Spider-Man. The web-slinging and wall-crawling work awesomely. Controls are smooth. The voice acting is great, and the story is filled with tons of cameos of other Marvel characters. The Dreamcast version is a personal favorite. This game really got the ball rolling for all future Spider-Man titles. After completing the game, there is also a fun alternate What If? Mode for some extra replay value.
1. Spider-Man 2
I placed Spider-Man 2 here because I think it’s the best game that truly captures and makes you feel like Spider-Man. The game includes a complete Manhattan sandbox to play in. Not only that; the web-slinging physics are much improved and incredible. You actually swing from buildings or objects rather than just having your webs connect to some invisible force in the air. The game utilizes the Spider-Sense and Spidey’s other various abilities in a great way. The game contains a Manhattan that is fully populated with NPCs and lots of various side missions to keep you busy. To date, for my money, it’s still the greatest Spider-Man game ever.