The Five Best Spider-Man Video Games

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Comic Fans Love Videogames

spider man shattered dimensions game

Video games based off of comic books are a no-brainer, given how the audience for both tend to overlap, and then some. Even more so when you're talking about a character as iconic as Spider-Man, and one whose appeal is very much based on how much fans relate to him. Games can go one better than comics: they actually afford the faithful a chance to “be” Spidey for a little while. Some games have managed to provoke that feeling better than others. In this writer's humble opinion, here are five of the most successful.

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5. Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions

spider man shattered dimensions game

Available for: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, Nintendo DS

With a script provided by current Amazing Spider-Man comics writer Dan Slott and a plot that traverses all manner of alternate-reality versions of the title character, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions already had the makings of a fan favorite. That developers Beenox – previously best known for ports of existing titles to other consoles, since focussed on the crazy popular Skylanders franchise – made a good game around all that solid raw material is what makes Shattered Dimensions such a stone cold classic.

Principally a fighting game, Shattered Dimensions is not unlike the side-scrolling beat-'em-ups of yesteryear, albeit with more polygons and fewer pixels than Streets Of Rage. Each iteration of the iconic wall-crawler – including the “Noir” version, a symbiote-bonded version of Ultimate Spider-Man, and Spider-Man 2099 – boast their own strengths and weaknesses, forcing players to switch up their game playing style, never getting complacent. It's a challenge, for sure, but the story from Slott really is a draw. That, with the addition of some natty visuals and replay value (more costume can be unlocked, reaching further into the depths of obscure alternate Spideys), is all you can ask for in a game, really.

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4. LEGO Marvel Superheroes

lego marvel super heroes spider man game
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Available for: PC, Mac, Mobile, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One

Admittedly, this one isn't solely a Spider-Man game, but it's just too much fun not to include. The LEGO games by Traveller's Tales all play basically the same, so which one you choose tends to depend on your geeky property of choice. They've applied the tried-and-true formula to everything from Harry Potter to Star Wars, but for the discerning comic book fan, you can't go wrong with LEGO Marvel Superheroes, originally released in 2013. A cavalcade of comic characters are playable in the game, from the iconic to the obscure.

Spidey gets a fair chunk of the game, with The Daily Bugle featured as an explorable area in the New York setting, and Doctor Octopus, Venom and the Green Goblin being amongst the main bad guys the player has to take down. There's a story full of gags and in-jokes for the eagle-eyed, but the joy of the LEGO games is that they're playable even by those who don't intuitively know their way around a joypad. Players travail through levels where almost every object can be demolished and rebuilt – because they're all supposed to be made of those little plastic bricks, see?

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3. Spider-Man 2 (2002)

spider man 2 game

Available for: PC, Mac, GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable

If comic book games are doomed to never be particularly great, then that must go doubly so for the most maligned of tie-in titles: the movie game. Just as films based on games are destined to be terrible until the end of time, so too are the games that are produced to cash in on their films' popularity usually not very impressive. The rushed nature of producing a releasable game that can be on shelves in time for a theatrical release rarely result in five-star, top-drawer material, and gamers have long since learned to give such endeavors a wide berth. Unless they hear otherwise, of course.
Which is why we flocked to Spider-Man 2, one of the best Spidey video games to date, suitably based off of one of the best Spidey movies to date. Taking the second Sam Raimi film as more of a starting point than a guidebook to be slavishly followed, the Spider-Man 2 game did what few others had managed up until that point. It let fans feel what it was like to be Spider-Man. Whilst there was a plot to follow, there was also the option to explore a fully-rendered New York, stopping crimes as you came across them, swinging from building to building. Web-slinging never felt so exhilarating, and a -style open world where you played as a good guy (the good guy) was a nice change of pace.

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2. Spider-Man (1999)

spider man game 1999

Available for: PC, PlayStation, Game Boy Color, Nintendo 64, Dreamcast

Spider-Man 2 didn't get there first, however. In the modern(ish) age of console gaming, the first title to really put players in the familiar tights – and provide all sorts of fan service completely impenetrable to the layman – was Neversoft's first Spider-Man game. The subsidiary of Activision was at that time best known for the burgeoning Tony Hawk's Pro Skater franchise, those early installments remaining cult favorites for the way it balanced a genuinely nuanced simulation of skateboarding with actually being a fun, slightly arcadey video game.

It's clear that a lot of lessons learned developing those games were applied to Spider-Man. Whilst the game doesn't allow much room for exploration, with players following a prescribed route and story leading to a number of colorful boss encounters (which, frankly, the more recent Batman Arkham games are still copying), it managed to make the entire thing seem like playing a comic book. There were bad guys to take down, cool new tricks to learn, costume changes, cameos by the likes of Daredevil and Punisher, and a sense of humor that was Spidey all over. Throw in Stan Lee as a narrator and a bunch of great secrets to unlock, and it's hard to argue this isn't the best Spider-Man game of all time.

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1. Revenge Of Shinobi

revenge of shinobi spider man game

Available for: Sega Genesis, Virtual Console, PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade

Strangely enough, the other contender for the top slot didn't officially feature Spiderman. The original Japanese version of the Sega Genesis (or MegaDrive) game The Revenge Of Shinobi was produced either in ignorance of or else complete disregard for intellectual property laws. Rambo, The Terminator, Godzilla, Batman and – yes – Spider-Man all appear as bosses that the central playable character, the returning ninja warrior of the title, comes up against throughout this side-scrolling platform game, derived from and a sequel to the previous arcade hit Shinobi.

Eventually, Sega managed to get a license to use Spider-Man, but had to remove the rest of the characters. Sadly, modern re-releases of The Revenge Of Shinobi have to omit the wallcrawler altogether, thanks to their agreement with Marvel having long since run out. Still, it was good while it lasted, and playing as a ninja warrior against a Spider-Man who might sometimes shapeshift into either Batman or Satan was certainly a memorable experience.