For years, developers have perfected the art of Spider-Man’s acrobatics in video games, from the classic 90s releases by Sega to more current adventures from Activision. There have been a lot of great games in this bunch, including a few titles that took us by surprise.
With The Amazing Spider-Man 2 now available for consoles and the newest movie launching tonight, we decided to look back on Spidey’s greatest adventures. We picked the best of the bunch, eight games that deserve a second look.
That said, this list deals with games that focus on Spider-Man. He starred in other great titles over the years, including the Marvel vs. Capcom games, Lego Marvel Super Heroes and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. You can check out a general list of Spidey’s best appearances here — and yes, we included Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2.
Maximum Carnage (Sega Genesis, SNES)
In an era where beat-em-ups like Streets of Rage and Final Fight prospered, Acclaim provided its own entry in the genre with Maximum Carnage. The game features not only Spidey, but also his adversary Venom, as they take on villainous thugs and eventually face off against the deadly symbiote Carnage. Fun fact: the soundtrack was put together by heavy metal band Green Jelly.
The Amazing Spider-Man vs. the Kingpin (Sega Genesis, Sega CD)
Spidey is no stranger to the Sega Genesis, having previously appeared as a boss character in Revenge of Shinobi. However, Sega did him great justice in this side-scrolling adventure, as he takes on the Kingpin and other thugs using web-thwipping capabilities, along with plenty of punches and kicks. The Sega CD version is the best way to go, though the Genesis entry is a good second place.
Spider-Man: The Video Game (PlayStation, Nintendo 64, Dreamcast)
After working its magic on the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater franchise, Neversoft Entertainment turned its attention to a fun 3D action/adventure featuring the web-slinger, taking on a variety of foes while using his spider senses to solve puzzles. In addition, the game also features a collectible system that’s commonplace with games today, including hidden comic books that you can add – and read – in your virtual collection. Our favorite moment: Venom’s insatiable demand to check out web sites. “Surf the web, surf the web!”
Spider-Man 2 (PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube)
The original 3D Spider-Man adventure is great, but Activision, working alongside Treyarch, advanced the formula on the following generation of systems. In Spider-Man 2, players travel through New York City stomping criminals, saving citizens and taking on a variety of missions, including battling Dr. Octopus before he concludes his destructive rampage. This game’s sandbox-style set-up has been a staple for many Spider-Man games since, including this week’s release, The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Spider-Man: Web of Shadows (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
A lot of people believe that Web of Shadows is one of the best, if not the best Spider-Man game of this past generation for great reason. The game features a superb combat system, where Spidey can switch between regular and symbiote powers, as well as great web techniques (like fighting on the side of a building), a city that consistently gets into more and more danger, and appearances from a variety of Marvel characters. Even Luke Cage shows up to get into trouble with the webbed wonder. If you haven’t played it yet, make sure you hunt down a copy – it’s cheap these days.
Ultimate Spider-Man (PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube)
After producing a number of movie-based Spider-Man titles, Activision opted to go with more of a genuine comic book direction with its next game, Ultimate Spider-Man. Packed with cel-shaded graphics and a variety of missions, the game lets players select between Spidey and Venom, each offering diverse gameplay. Venom was probably the best guilty pleasure, as you could literally devour someone, suck up their energy and leave their collapsed, unconscious body on the ground. For good measure, the fight against Wolverine is awesome.
Spider-Man: The Arcade Game (Arcade)
Before Spidey teamed up with Venom for Maximum Carnage, he had his fair share of brawling in a 1990 arcade game, working alongside Black Cat, Sub-Mariner and Hawkeye to bring down every dangerous criminal in the book. Along with beat-em-up fun, the game also featured zoomed-out combat scenarios, where characters used projectile weapons and collected health bonuses while traveling through the city. It’s a shame this game never saw a home release, because it’s a lot of fun.
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii)
Last but certainly not least, Beenox’s Spider-Man debut is easily one of the best we’ve seen to date. The game offers four playable versions of the hero – regular, Amazing, Spidey 2099 and the new Noir Spidey – spread across different dimensions that somehow intertwine into a terrific story. As you can see, each character has something special to offer, and the game as a whole provides plenty of beat-em-up/swinging fun. Fun fact: Amazing Spider-Man is actually voiced by Neil Patrick Harris. It’d be pretty dumb to turn down a Spidey game starring NPH.
Want more Spidey goodness? Check out our walkthrough for The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s boss battles!