Spider-Man! Spider-Man! Marvel’s most popular superhero has spanned decades of adaptations, including a wide array of games! How could you possible rank every Spider-Man game without going mad?
Well, that’s the trick – after you rank every Star Wars game, you can’t get crazier!
So let’s do it. Every single Spider-Man game. If it spins webs or crawls on walls, we’re covering it. The only exception here is cameos – sorry, Ultimate Alliance fans!
“It’s Time to Chisel Me Some Spider-Jelly!” – Spider-Man 2 for PC (Is the Worst Spider-Man Game)
Now, I know what you’re thinking – Spider-Man 2 was a great game! Yes, yes it was… if you had a console. Whereas Activision, in their infinite “wisdom” decided that PC players should have an entirely separate game. A game that, mind you, has almost nothing to do with the console version.
We’ll get to the good one much later, but to start things off, let me introduce you to the inexplicable suffering unleashed upon children who only had a PC in the mid-2000s.
Spider-Man 2 for PC is worse than an hour-long montage of Toby Maguire’s dancing. It’s duller than sitting through Morbius. Forget everything you think you know about bad Spider-Man content because this abomination is the furthest into the depths we can possibly go.
There are objectively less functional Spider-Man games, but none are as cruel as Activision’s obsession for a few years of ensuring every PC ‘port’ of a tie-in game was a separate game entirely.
Why is this a thing?
Spider-Man 2 for PC is less an action game, and more a point’n’click adventure. Sure, you can jump around in 3D, but there are no combos or intuitive webswinging. The gameplay is an absolute joke that barely uses more than six buttons total – four of those being the movement keys!
Everything else is context-sensitive. It’s as though the developers of the PC version wanted to make the entire game so playable that a toddler could do it. There’s also next to no open world to speak of.
Spider-Man 2 for PC is such a bad Spider-Man game that the collective consciousness of the universe has tried to forget it exists. Except for me. This is my responsibility. To remember just how terrible this game is.
The biggest shame of all is Bruce Campbell had to narrate the tutorial for this game on top of the other Sam Raimi Spider-Man tie-in games. You know your Spider-Man game is bad when even the king of camp can’t elevate it for even a single second.
Burning Money Is More Productive – Tiger Electronic’s Marvel Spider-Man For… Your Hands?
Remember Happy Meal games? Those little fake games that are basically just a handful of unanimated sprites you can sorta manipulate on the screen? Well, there was a time when a company by the name of Tiger Electronics thought you could charge actual money for such barely functional technology.
Crazier still, Hasbro brought these back not that long ago for a brief bit of nostalgia. For more than the cost of an actual old console, you had the privilege of doing the same repetitive tasks over and over against an unchanging background.
Make no mistake, Tiger’s handheld standalone gaming experiences were anything but quality. This tech was dated when it first came out and is nothing more than a curiosity today. Its only relevance is historical.
Amazing? Not Quite – Spider-Man: Web of Shadows: Amazing Allies for PS2 and Psp
Spider-Man: Web of Shadows for 7th gen systems is Treyarch’s ambitious last superhero game before diving into Call of Duty. It wasn’t a perfect game, but it was bold, ambitious, and daring. It’s a Spider-Man game where you could become the villain if you so pleased, with a giant – for the time – open world! There’s also the DS version, which was a Metroidvania throwback.
However, for those on the PS2 and PSP, something far worse awaited them. Amazing Allies Edition is the worst consolation prize.
It’s even weirder as Web of Shadows ran fine on Wii, a platform that regularly saw ports to PS2 and PSP. Not Web of Shadows though. No, Amaze Entertainment’s take on the game was a linear 2.5D beat’em’up.
The graphics are bottom of the barrel, the user interface barely exists, the story ends without even a cutscene, and the game skips over the entire first act of the story via an exposition dump. Voice acting is sporadic. The ‘Amazing Allies’ constitutes to glorified power-ups with cheesy animations.
Also, you can commit insurance fraud as a side quest in this spider-Man game.
I’m serious. This isn’t even the strangest side quest. Morality has basically no bearing on the rest of the game since there are no alternate endings. It’s just a choice of how much of a jerk you feel like being.
To be fair, there are some unique boss fights from other versions of the game, but they’re not good boss fights. A few are even missing obvious animations and VFX. No amount of deep-cut Marvel references is worth enduring this barely functional brawler.
So, to paraphrase the victory screen “Congratulations! Congratulations! You’ve saved yourself three hours of mediocre gameplay!”
Full Motion Vide-Oh No! – Spider-Man: The Sinister Six for PC
Spider-Man: The Sinister Six is a rare oddity in gaming. It’s a Full Motion Video project, but it’s animated instead of live-action. It has two entirely different art styles, barely any functional animations, and a branching narrative where the only change in outcome is at the very end of the story and makes no sense.
The attempts at action gameplay are poorly constructed rhythm game sequences and the odd barely functional stationary “web” turret. Otherwise, there are… well, calling them puzzles would be awfully charitable.
The amazing thing is how there’s really not much else to say about the game. It’s a retread of the tried and true “Mysterio pretends to be Spider-Man to frame him” plot, just with… increasingly more confusing steps. It’s all so supremely bad that your only chance of enjoying it is riffing over the absurdity.
There’s nothing redeeming or interesting here, but you can experience the unintentional comedy for yourself by watching a playthrough above.
Mortal Yawn-Bat – The Amazing Spider-Man and Captain America in Doctor Doom’s Revenge for PC
It seems for every single franchise full of games, there’s an obligatory fighting game that falls flat. Yet not even Masters of the Teras Kasi has to worry about being outperformed by this wordsoup of a game. You aren’t even fighting cool Marvel villains most of the time – Grey Gargoyle, Machte, Zaran, Oddball, and Batroc the Leaper are joined by just a few Spider-Man villains and Dr. Doom.
But hey, at least it’s a fighting game. It should be fast and fluid, even if it’s a mess, right? Wrong! The Amazing Spider-Man and Captain America in Dr. Doom’s Revenge! is one of the slowest fighting games ever released.
It’s truly astonishing how something this low in detail can run so impossibly slow. There’s no reason for the game to look or sound this bad.
The biggest selling point, in reality, was a manual that provides biographies for all the characters featured. Some of that very information was used as copy protection – so if you happened to pirate this game in the day, having boundless Marvel knowledge was a get-out-of-jail-free card.
Nowadays, it’s best to leave this exhaustingly named Spider-Man game in the dust.
Skin-Crawling – The Amazing Spider-Man for PC
To give you an idea of how limited game design was when The Amazing Spider-Man was developed, the idea of platforming alongside brawling and puzzle solving was a novel concept.
The resulting game is less Jill of the Jungle and more akin to watching paint dry slowly as you flip switches. The premise on paper is perfect for a game: Mysterio kidnaps Mary Jane, and Spider-Man has to navigate a mess of trap-filled movie sets to free MJ. There’s even a Star Wars area with little hostile R2 units.
I can’t really blame the developers given that, at the time, most ‘action’ games were slow, plodding messes. That doesn’t mean anyone should play this game today. The sound design is awful, Spider-Man moves around like a wounded tortoise, and the graphics are… I’m not even sure I have words to accurately describe the eyestrain.
Though, hilariously, your life meter is a picture of Spider-Man that progressively turns into a skeleton the closer you are to death. So… there’s that?
The Spectacular Static Image Man – Questprobe: Spider-Man Game for PC
Questprobe is a trilogy of Marvel adventure games programmed and designed by Scott Adams. Adams is credited as one of the first adventure game designers ever, and for that, he’s owed a great deal of respect.
For its era, his time with Spider-Man was a bold, innovative, and highly unconventional first-person puzzle game more akin to a Sierra Interactive title.
However, the sands of time have caught up with the game, leaving it little more than a curiosity with a high difficulty curve for its time.
Only people with a deep fondness for the likes of the Apple II will be engrossed here. It’s less a Spider-Man game and more a Marvel-themed, masochistic Myst.
Burn It Down – The Amazing Spider-Man: Web of Fire for the Sega 32X
Web of Fire might just be one of the weirdest Spider-Man exclusives for any console. Built by SEGA specifically for the 32X expansion, it’s… really bad. Everything about it is bland. The skyboxes, the enemy designs, traversing levels, heck even the user interface.
The sound design is also more compressed than a HyperScan game. These levels have less imagination than a plug-and-play game.
Hydra somehow takes over New York City with a ‘laser web’ sky net. They do this somehow without being immediately taken down by SHIELD and the Avengers.
Daredevil is the only other hero on call to help. The art direction is more Batman and Robin than Spider-Man, and is incredibly repetitious to boot. Enemies can be utter hit sponges.
It feels like every expense that could be spared, was.
WHAT IS THIS, A SCREEN FOR ANTS? – SPIDER-MAN AND THE X-MEN IN ARCADE’S REVENGE FOR GAME BOY & GAME GEAR
Arcade’s Revenge is a fairly famous highlight of Spider-Man’s early 2D games – that is on home consoles. The handheld ports try their best to make it work, but whether on Game Boy or Game Gear, the game becomes virtually unplayable. You have around a quarter of your usual field of view, making everything far more cumbersome.
Strangest of all, the Game Boy version actually has better visuals despite having inferior hardware to the Game Gear. The latter port might have color and better sound, but it makes Wolverine look more like Edward Scissorhands and Storm like some mutated tuna fish.
Credit to each port’s development teams for trying to punch above their weight, but neither system could handle this Spider-Man game.
BETTER THAN THE FMV GAME AT LEAST – SPIDER-MAN: RETURN OF THE SINISTER SIX FOR NES, SEGA MASTER SYSTEM, & GAME GEAR
How do you follow making a rich, vibrant world like Marvel fit on the NES? You pretty much avoid doing anything found in Return of the Sinister Six.
It barely feels like a Spider-Man game. It’s neither as amazing nor spectacular. Legitimately the nicest thing I can say is that some of the skyboxes look nice for their time.
You punch enemies and they explode like they’re made of plastic. The overall visuals make Sanic look like art, and there’s no real cohesion between anything going on.
At one point Spider-Man is attacked by zombies, a paper boy, soldiers with RPGs, and actual raccoons in Central Park.
I… I don’t have any punchline or critique that tops that. Spider-Man is defeated by wild raccoons. Who thought this was a good idea??
The Amazing Walking-Guy the Amazing Spider-Man for Game Boy
Man, they really named a lot of these games The Amazing Spider-Man, didn’t they? Many of them are unrelated, but this is actually the first part in a trilogy of Game Boy Spider-Man games.
Not good Game Boy games, but they clearly sold well enough to warrant one suffering through them.
The first doesn’t even focus on slinging webs as anything more than a special attack. Instead, it’s just a generic beat’em’up platformer that features some of the most laughable attempts at cutscenes. This one’s only worth it if you want to see Spider-Man talk into a brick cellphone.
Yet there’s one more surreal twist to this game – it was developed by RARE. Yes, the same studio behind Perfect Dark and GoldenEye 64 pumped this game out. Certainly not their finest work.
Flappy-Man – Spider-Man Ultimate Power for Mobile
It’s Jetpack Joyride and Flappy Bird, combined, but worse.
This is a game from 2014. It looks like a Flash web browser game from 2009.
Someone got paid to make this.
Another person thought it was a good idea.
And, finally, I have to acknowledge that it exists.
Slayed Upon Arrival – The Amazing Spider-Man 3: Invasion of the Spider-Slayers for Game Boy
The Amazing Spider-Man Game Boy trilogy continues to get weirder with a third entry that’s inexplicably weaker than its direct predecessor. Despite advertising itself as being a game where you fight the series’ famous Spider-Slayers, the experience more resembles Spider-Man finding an array of generic platforming enemies.
The user interface is harder to make sense of. There’s a countdown timer now for levels. Said levels are more frustrating to navigate. Were it not for the “3” on the box, you’d think this was the second entry.
There’s even worse music, with more tonally inconsistent tracks as you fight the Spider-Slayers. Confusingly, Alistair Smythe looks like he’s wearing a Spider-Man mask during his final boss fight?
The only advantage it has over The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is some better animations for Spider-Man. Well, unless you count learning that someone thought the term “bone-weary relief” was a thing.
“RADIOACTIVE SPIDER-MAN” – SPIDER-MAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES FOR SNES & SEGA GENESIS
Spider-Man: The Animated Series – the TV show that is- was actually my introduction to the greater Spider-Man canon. It’s an incredibly silly show that’s just the right level of superhero camp for a 90’s show. The game meanwhile is just… not very good.
The sound design and music of the show were two of its strongest elements, both of which are absent beyond the main theme here. Far from ideal, to be sure.
There was also a very clear, concise presentation to it all. None of which is present in the game either, with its weird 2.5D-but-not-really levels that make it hard to tell what’s in the foreground or the background. Spider-Man leaps with the agility of an elderly arachnid.
Random sewer hobos who try to claw at you with their hands are more spry. It’s obvious that there was effort to try and capture the essence of the show as a platformer, but it’s just too frustrating by modern standards.
Also, for some reason discount SPARTAN-II’s from Halo show up as enemies. No, I haven’t the faintest clue why, they were never in the show. It makes sense that after this mediocre tie-in to a major show at the time, the license for Spider-Man games was finally wrested away from LJN and Acclaim.
“SWINGING IS HARD” – SPIDER-MAN 3 FOR PS3, XBOX 360, & PC
Imagine, if you will, Activision releasing an unfinished license tie-in game. No, I mean worse than Legend of Korra. Yes, worse than Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark. Even more unfinished than the Call of Duty Vanguard beta – it’s Spider-Man 3! This time all the main platforms were handled by Treyarch and… wow is it just —
I don’t have words for how broken Spider-Man 3 is. While the PC port shown above is exceptionally broken, I can confirm that every port of this particular Spider-Man 3 game — because wow, there are a lot of them – barely functions. And it, is, amazing. Wait, no, I mean it’s amazing to watch.
It’s rare you play a game and see it fundamentally break around you as though the code running it is begging for the release of a final Game Over.
There are pre-rendered cutscenes with graphical glitches. Half the time characters aren’t even lip-synced. People’s eyes don’t ever seem to stay inside their heads. An entire gang is made up of goth lolita fashionistas with mallets that would make Harley Quinn envious.
Half the story premise of The Amazing Spider-Man movie is just there as a subplot. The quick-time events are all extremely hilarious for how bleak the fail states are.
In no way should you actively seek out or play this Spider-Man 3 for an earnestly good game, but it can be at least a roaring riot of a time witnessing it fall apart at the seams.
Swinging It Old School – Spider-Man Game for Atari 2600
Spider-Man for Atari 2600 surprisingly shares some notable backstory like Questprobe. It’s one of the earliest games programmed by a woman, Laura Nikolich. The difference is, that while Spider-Man ‘s Atari debut is far from mentally challenging, it gets the basics right.
You swing on your web up a series of buildings, dodging Green Goblin and bombs he’s planted to stop you. There’s next to no animation, and the controls handle as well as you’d expect for an Atari game.
Yet despite that, Nikolich incorporated some forward-thinking aspects. For one, being hit by Goblin or his bombs doesn’t instantly take you out of the running, with a more reasonable difficulty curve.
Spider-Man’s swinging also feels like there are some physics to it, however crudely implemented. Like many Atari games, it’s a series of increasingly difficult but repeating levels with no story, but as Atari license tie-ins go, this one’s no ET at least.
Carded – Spider-Man for the Mattel Hyperscan
The HyperScan is a console famous for several things. It attempted the toys-to-life gimmick with trading cards years beforehand. It was built specifically with license tie-in games in mind at a budget price. And it only ever received five games total.
After several spectacular blunders with Ben Ten, the Avengers, an original fighting game, and an X-Men fighting game, the final release was a loose adaptation of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3.
There are a number of levels drawing inspiration from the preceding movies as well as seemingly Treyarch’s first Spider-Man game.
The tragedy of HyperScan – Spider-Man is that by comparison to virtually every other HyperScan game, it works. It’s not a great game by any measure, but it’s a better Spider-Man experience than it has any right to be. There’s a pseudo-open-world menu with random encounters that scrolls left and right. Some scenarios at least resemble the scenes that inspired them.
What’s the catch for this spider-Man game?
The trick is you’d scan cards to upgrade your powers and unlock additional content. This was HyperScan’s whole gimmick – and it rarely worked. Even worse, one of the cards was never released! So you had to blindly buy them, hoping you wouldn’t get redundant cards, always knowing that a number sixty card was out there, buried somewhere in Mattel’s closet.
This is inherently the problem with HyperScan – Spider-Man. Even though it works, it’s never good, or even average. It feels like a proof of concept tech demo for if any of the other HyperScan games had been properly developed.
Paired with arguably the worst home console system of the 2000s and some aggressive content gating behind insane amounts of card collecting, there’s no reason to play it. Yet, it’s still a better Spider-Man game than our first two contenders. And somehow, this isn’t the last we’ll see of Spider-Man games you just plug into your TV.
Spider-Man: Toxic City for Mobile
Would you like to play a good Spider-Man game custom-made for your phone? Well… this isn’t it. Despite being vastly better than Ultimate Power while developed in 2009, Toxic City isn’t a good time.
It’s stiff, awkward, and unpleasant to play in ideal conditions. You can count the animation frames at times. It may be impressive from a technical standpoint of its day, but that’s the only nice thing to be said.
Venom/Spider-Man: Separation Anxiety for SNES, Genesis, & PC
Despite a shift in who gets top billing, don’t be mistaken – Separation Anxiety is essentially an expansion pack to the more famous Maximum Carnage. It just has a cheaper presentation, animations, and backgrounds that look like they were designed for entirely different art styles, and next to none of the polish of its predecessor.
It’s a shame this is the one to receive a PC port. Everything about it can be summarized as “Like Maximum Carnage, but worse”. So, how’s Maximum Carnage? We’ll get to that soon!
Riding the Sega-Way – Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin for Sega Mega Drive, Genesis, Master System, & Game Gear
Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin is remarkable, if not necessarily for the best reasons. There is a good, campy version of this game with one of the first attempts at New York as an overworld, along with fully voiced cutscenes. The initial release is just a very typical brawler.
While you could freely play it on a wide variety of SEGA consoles, the only one you actually want is on the SEGA CD.
The version many experienced features Spider-Man strutting around like he’s going to have a word with the manager. You run around, taking out various supervillains just to find keys in order to stop Kingpin from firing off a nuclear warhead in New York City. A nuke that Kingpin has somehow framed Spider-Man for.
Does this plot feel like it was reverse-engineered from the levels? Yes, yes it does! Not that you’ll see much of the story in this version.
While it’s impressive to see the game ported to even a handheld system without many cuts, it’s just not that memorable when compared to the full capabilities of the SEGA CD version.
GREEN WITH ENVY – SPIDER-MAN: BATTLE FOR NEW YORK FOR GBA & DS
There are three games that let you experience the thrill of being the villainous Green Goblin. Of those, none is weirder than Spider-Man: Battle for New York. It’s a prequel to the Ultimate Spider-Man game and an unnecessary one at that.
It’s so painfully average despite such a wild premise on paper. You can embody not only Spider-Man but the hulking Ultimate Green Goblin! How do you make that boring?!
Battle for New York has the simplest gameplay of any Spider-Man game other than Spider-Man 2 for PC. The inconsistent art direction doesn’t help, nor do the repetitious level layouts that blur together. The ear-rending soundtrack is by far the worst part, hitting and staying at a high note for so long you can feel your ears pulse.
Now, it is worth noting, that the DS version is a tad better, with marginally better graphics (now in 3D) and less compressed audio, but the gameplay is just as pedestrian. Plus, no matter how you play it, it features a level where you actively assault a school as Green Goblin, violently beating up security guards and sending students into a panic. The optics on that… really haven’t aged well. Not a good look for a Spider-Man game.
Ultimate Spider-Man for GBA
Ultimate Spider-Man for GBA boldly asks “What if Battle for New York on GBA was less interesting but marginally more polished?” The answer is – it’s still pretty dull, but hey, it’s slightly better? It’s still entirely worth skipping.
THERE WILL BE CARNAGE – SPIDER-MAN AND VENOM: MAXIMUM CARNAGE FOR SNES & GENESIS
Wow! A 16-bit Spider-Man game that adapts an actual story rather than just giving you an excuse to punch pixels. A story with blood and gore, no less. Multiple characters both famous and niche enter the fray, from the obvious like Carnage and Venom to deep cuts like Shriek and Demogoblin.
With the added bonus of being able to play as either Spider-Man or Venom across a series of NYC brawls, there’s a lot of fanservice for a ’90s game.
This is made all the better by the game actually playing well. The graphics ironically look more like the cartoon than the cartoon’s official tie-in. Combat is fast and snappy with comic book sound effects filling the air as you dish out justice on a number of thugs.
Those thugs might all look like the same five or so people with palette swaps, but given this was a game published by LJN, it’s a relief the game turned out well at all.
With Friends Like These – Spider-Man: The Video Game for Arcades
Spider-Man: The Video Game is unique for a variety of reasons. It’s one of only a few games to let Peter Parker team up with his sometimes love interest Felicia Hardy. It inexplicably also features Hawkeye and… Namor the Submariner?
This four-player brawler is a grand-scale adventure, where you pummel your way through countless goons and iconic foes. It doesn’t really do anything unique as far as arcade brawlers are concerned, but it certainly is… another one.
I know there are folks who are nostalgic for this game, but other than heroes and villains, this game could easily be almost any other IP. The only bits that set it apart are the traversal sections, and not many people play an arcade brawler for the platforming.
There are also some weird creative liberties taken, along with severely compressed audio that grates on your ears.
Anyone revisiting this one should keep those red-tinted glasses on tight.
TO ME, MY X-MEN – SPIDER-MAN AND THE X-MEN IN ARCADE’S REVENGE FOR SNES & GENESIS
As Spider-Man games go, Arcade’s Revenge is certainly a curious amalgam. It manages to combine ideas from several previous Spider-Man and X-Men games, except they’re actually fun this time.
You’ve got a maze of twisted entertainment assembled by Arcade that’s reminiscent of Mysterio’s Hollywood knock-offs. The gameplay emphasizes platforming like the Gameboy games and the multiple playstyles of Spider-Man and Venom.
Not resting on the ideas of what came before, there’s a variety of unique stages. Everything from a frayed construction site to a minecart ride.
You’ll go up against robot versions of several famous Marvel villains from both the X-Men and Spider-Man’s rogues’ galleries.
The music is good, the controls are tight, and the animations are great. It’s difficult by modern standards, but at least there’s a creative pulse to go along with it.
Lost in Translation – The Amazing Spider-Man: Lethal Foes for SNES
Until six years ago, only Japanese players could fully appreciate one of the more interesting 16-bit Spider-Man games. Thanks to a fan patch, we can at least play it. And it’s… surprisingly solid for such an obscure tie-in game. The mechanized robot enemies might give you The Amazing Spider-Man 3 flashbacks, but the levels are much better.
The presentation is great as well! There are actual cutscenes with animations and classic friends and foes alike join in on the fun. Controls are also simple yet intuitive. Plus, it’s oddly one of the only games of this era to treat Spider-Man’s webbing as a core power rather than a bonus utility alongside his fists.
The abundance of robots is the only part that may displease some, as more traditional criminals are fairly absent outside of boss fights.
There have been better 2D Spider-Man games since, but Lethal Foes is a darn good Spider-Man game that deserves more recognition.
Why Are There So Many of These?! – Jakk’s Pacific Spider-Man Plug-And-Play for Your TV
Jakk’s Pacific is at it again! As if creating a glut of Star Wars games wasn’t enough, there are multiple Spider-Man plug & play games by the company as well.
While there are your traditional 2D brawling platformers, they went so far as to create a dungeon crawler, the only time a Spider-Man game would explore this genre.
Of course, there was also a Spider-Man 3 movie game. What’s remarkable is how unlike the infinite minigames of Star Wars, Spider-Man’s games typically have actual levels, with dedicated boss fights!
Given these things were running on something you could cram inside a controller that could be sold at $40, it’s a surprise that they work well at all.
Obviously, none of these are outstanding. The games handle like long-lost budget SNES titles. The controllers are oddly shaped, most infamously the one pictured above looking like you were constantly tickling Peter’s spider-sense.
They’re a cute novelty, but nothing anyone actively needs to own. For those that happened to be gifted them though, at least the Jakk’s Pacific developers understood the basics of game design.
Never Say Neversoft Again – Spider-Man for Gbc
It’d be great to say it was all worth it and that Spider-Man is a GBC hidden tie-in gem like Atlantis: The Lost Empire. I can’t say that because it isn’t – it’s very much like its early 90’s brethren, sharing many of the same issues but with snappier controls. I’m actually starting to run out of ways to discern between them, there’s just so many of these things.
At least in the case of the first GBC game, it actively tries to follow the plot of Neversoft’s 3D version. It’s an incredibly average experience, same as its direct sequel.
Spider-Man 2: The Sinister Six for Gbc
The most significant aspect of the Sinister Six is that it features the World Trade Center as a level, and was released May 2001, which sure is something to stare at and go “Oh. Oh dear.” Literally less than four months before the tragedy of 9/11.
That’s… really unfortunate timing. This also impacted the console sequel Enter Electro, with a late-development rework of a stage to avoid resembling the tragedy, with some prototype builds still featuring a level set on the Twin Towers as well.
I did not expect to have to address 9/11 in a Spider-Man ranking list, but… here we are.
Why Does Mysterio Have So Many Spider-Man Games? – Mysterio’s Menace for GBA
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Spider-Man has to navigate a maze of Hollywood special effects sets to stop Mysterio in a 2D platformer. To the credit of Menace’s development team, it’s at least far better than the other games of this exact same premise, but it is the same darn premise we’ve now covered in multiple forms.
Did… nobody think to compare notes or look at older Spider-Man games when pitching these new ones?
Though technically a sequel to the NeverSoft Spider-Man game, that’s not saying much given it’s still for an entirely different platform and style of play. There’s nothing profoundly unique here that you can’t find done better in another Spider-Man game. And I guarantee you, there are far better soundtracks.
A genuine effort, but there’s just not enough here to warrant playing.
Swinging Too Close to the Sun – Spider-Man vs. Kingpin for Sega CD
Okay, so hear me out – what if there was a 90’s home console Spider-Man platformer with actual wall-crawling, fully voiced AND animated cutscenes, and graphics that at least resemble the source material? Pretty cool, right?! Except, it comes at the cost of one of the most absurd stories in a Spider-Man game ever made.
Kingpin framing Spider-Man by trying to nuke New York City doesn’t really make much sense. Granted neither does the fact you can find Sonic’s head scrawled on the cavern wall of Kingpin’s hideout.
What sets the SEGA CD port apart is this overwhelming, if inconsistent, ambition. There’s a pseudo overworld map to choose missions. You can actually ‘win’ the game with Mary Jane dissolved in acid if you aren’t skillful enough in the final confrontation.
Unlike other versions of the game, it boasts entirely unique assets and an obvious jump in screen resolution. It might not be a great game, but it succeeds far more than it has any right to – all in its campy, silly way.
From Gameloft’s Attic – Spider-Man Games for Java
Okay, so there are even more Java-based Spider-Man games, just like with Star Wars. Many of them are barely playable messes akin to what we were exploring earlier on many 90’s era consoles. The notables are:
A rhythm game about swinging that’s very boring.
A bubble popping game. Yes, really. It’s technically a Spider-Man game because… *checks notes* your cursor is Spider-Man’s head.
A Spider-Man 3 tie-in that has reasonable controls and even uses the whole “you lose health when wearing the symbiote suit!” mechanic. Neat! Not particularly spectacular, but a worthy effort.
Everything else is like what you’ve already heard several times now. This is a real shame as there are far better Java action games. If SOCOM, Ratchet & Clank, Assassin’s Creed, Saints Row, and Far Cry could translate into interesting mobile adaptations, why not Spider-Man?
Spider-Man: Edge of Time for Ds
Spider-Man: Edge of Time is a troubled game at the best of times, but the DS version is especially egregious. Where the 3DS port is literally the entire home console game on a handheld, the DS version is like a parody of handheld games.
The UI is terrible, the gameplay pales in comparison to DS games released before Edge of Time, and the visuals are just hideously compressed.
To the game’s credit, it has unique boss fights exclusive to it, featuring far more of Spider-Man 2099’s roster. Except fighting them is unpleasant and incredibly repetitious. Not to mention the plot makes even less sense now.
There are far better Spider-Man games on DS, and we’ll be delving into them very soon.
Actually Decent This Time! – The Amazing Spider-Man 2 for Game Boy
Oh hey! A good Spider-Man game for the Game Boy! Bit Studios’ first sequel to RARE’s crack at a handheld Spider-Man hits a surprising number of the right notes.
You’ve got your spider-sense, web-swinging, multiple areas to crawl around, and great visuals despite the single color palette. The selection of villains is great, there are cool setpieces like turning an automated gun system against itself, and even the story progression makes a bit more sense – no brick cellphone calls this time.
The only facet that falls flat is, of all things, Spider-Man’s animations and the cutscene comic panels. For all the great visuals otherwise, these two areas fall flat. The controls are fine, and enemies are well animated, so I’m really not sure why these are the two areas Bit Studios struggled with.
If nothing else, they crafted at least one memorable Game Boy Spider-Man game. It might not be a must-play for everyone, but it’s a solid effort.
There Was a (Genuine) Attempt – Spider-Man 3 for Ds
Spider-Man 3 for the DS is, remarkably, a fairly faithful adaptation of the videogame adaptation story for Spider-Man 3. It merges bits from both the terrible 7th gen version and the last-gen demake. It’s 2D, but has fully 3D graphics as it twists and turns around every level.
Sometimes, it even tries to include voice acting, though it’s so compressed you’ll barely understand what anyone is saying. There’s even two-player multiplayer, though you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone else to play the game with.
Unfortunately, this is another instance of a game trying to rely heavily on the stylus for combat. Say what you will about shaking a Wiimote or mashing a button – swiping repeatedly isn’t comfortable for anyone’s wrists.
Objectives aren’t fun either, most missions result in mindnumbing brawls or basic navigation. Despite impressive attempts at presentation, it’s just not that fun.
All it really has going for it is being a solid tech demo for the DS – something other games achieve while still being entertaining.
Swipe Out – Ultimate Spider-Man for Ds
Ultimate Spider-Man for DS is an admirable effort marred by lack of polish and just not having the power necessary to capture its home console counterpart.
The 2.5D look is great, bolstered by cel-shaded graphics. The touch screen based controls are far less endearing.
Rather than an open world with two morally opposed protagonists, you’ve got a string of vignette levels that border on feeling like WarioWare minigames stretched out for too long. It has interesting ideas for how to use the stylus, but Ultimate Spider-Man for DS is far from the best Spider-Man game on handhelds.
Topped Out – Spider-Man: Friend or Foe for Ds
Spider-Man: Friend or Foe is a fun little spin-off of the Raimi films filling the gap left by Spider-Man 4’s cancellation. The DS port tries to not be yet another 2D Spider-Man platformer game by instead opting for isometric brawling in 2.5D and 3D levels.
It’s a compelling idea, made horrendous due to an absolutely abysmal camera that’s constantly shifting in ways that don’t help. It not only makes it hard to tell what’s happening but to enjoy the spectacle.
It’s really close to being an Elite Squadron-style romp, but nSpace had the common sense to not waste processing power on the second screen. It’s a really weird presentation that rarely benefits the player. The only credit to the DS port’s favor is that not every level is quite as linear as its home console counterpart.
This is particularly strange since the PSP manages to run the full console game with a pair of extra playable characters. A few touch screen minigames don’t make up for the DS port falling so short of its potential.
Ultimately Fated to Obscurity – Spider-Man: Total Mayhem for Mobile
Speaking of punching over a platform’s weight, we can’t forget the mobile tie-in to Ultimate Spider-Man, Total Mayhem. It might not be a commonly known Spider-Man game, but for all its 2010 mobile phone jank, this might be one of Gameloft’s most noteworthy 3D titles.
Noteworthy in that it’s not a microtransaction-fueled mess but just an earnest 2.5D action game. It’s clearly inspired by not only the comic of its namesake but also the Treyarch Spider-Man games – the good ones, that is.
Unfortunately, it’s still clearly a 2010 mobile phone game. The art direction is weak, the polycount looks lower than a PS1 game, and the voice acting is cringeworthy. The only thing in its favor over other Spider-Man mobile games? It’s not an infinite runner nor a giant sandbox game full of filler content.
It’s oddly refreshing to see a superhero game that’s so focused. Yet somehow, this is far from the most ambitious Gameloft mobile entry.
A DULL EDGE – SPIDER-MAN: EDGE OF TIME FOR PS3, XBOX 360, & PC
Spider-Man: Edge of Time is perhaps the biggest disappointment that still manages to just function well enough to skirt past most of the competition. It’s essentially a standalone expansion to Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, using the same progression system, voice actors, controls, combat system, etc. As great as the game it’s based on may be… Edge of Time is as dull as its gray hallways.
Truly, this is another instance of “That Spider-Man game you like, but not as good” taken to the extreme. It even has some compelling ideas for exploring the whole “power and responsibility” dynamic that drives all versions of Spider-Man. If only it was interesting.
Every gaming cliche possible is relied on for Beenox’s second mainline Spider-Man game. Needing key cards for doors.
Fighting infinitely until an elevator or something arrives. Zombie enemies. Timed sequences with little room for error.
Boss fights are basically just reskinned enemies with bigger health bars. Backtracking. It’s all such a slog. This is an extra shame because…
THE CUTTING EDGE – SPIDER-MAN: EDGE OF TIME FOR 3DS &WII
Would you believe that Beenox managed to get the entirety of Edge of Time running on a 3DS?! Do you realize how incredible it is that someone got a PS3 game running at a stable framerate on a base generation 3DS? That’s some absolute software wizardry right there!
The Wii, sure, Shattered Dimensions even had a faithful downgrade on the Wii, but the 3DS?! I can count the number of games with parity between a home console and their 3DS ‘port’ on one hand!
Now if only it was actually a good game like Shattered Dimensions. Instead… it’s Edge of Time. So if you’ve got to get your Spider-Man game fix on the go, this is one of your better options, but it’s certainly not the best.
A Not-Terrible Raimi Tie-in! – Spider-Man for GBA
Spider-Man – the movie tie-in GBA game, is almost the pinnacle of what Spider-Man could achieve on the GBA. It’s not the most innovative entry, or the most profound, but hey – it’s actually good! Again, this one’s more of a middle-of-the-road experience, but it has great pacing, levels are more than just a linear obstacle course but have some little rewards if you think ahead.
The HUD is wonderfully minimalist without leaving you confused. The moment-to-moment gameplay flows beautifully. You can even take photos of Spider-Man as a bonus objective – I can’t think of a game before this to incorporate Peter’s photography in the same way.
To be fair, the game only barely follows the plot of the film or even the plot of the home console game. Still, after all the many, many, many 2D platformers of Spider-Man we’ve seen, this is by far one of the stronger ones. Incredible to think its sequel ups the ante in every way.
A Truly Amazing Spider-Man Game on GBA! – Spider-Man 2 for GBA
Here we are. We did it folks! We’ve finally made it! We’re out of the muck of “middling at best” Spider-Man games.
This GBA game has open-world traversal in a 3D New York City?! It actually tries to replicate the content of the home console version between these open-world environments and detailed 2D platforming levels!
The animations are solid and the framerate is more than reasonable!? The music is decent! The art direction is great?! Web swinging is frequently utilized in both modes of play?!? It’s like someone actually learned from the other Spider-Man games and made improvements!
At long last… we get our first glimpse at great Spider-Man games.
Of Course, There’s an N-Gage Game – Spider-Man 2 for N-Gage
There’s an N-Gage Spider-Man game because however terrible the handheld system may have been, they had a knack for getting people to release major IP on it.
Remarkably, Spider-Man 2 for N-Gage isn’t terrible. It’s just, essentially, a slightly higher fidelity Spider-Man 2 for GBA. It’s got the same mechanics and enemies but presented in a different order. Though the storytelling is… it’s something else.
So if you wanted more of Spider-Man 2 for GBA shenanigans, turns out you’re in luck!
The Amazing Average-Man – The Amazing Spider-Man for Ds
In an odd way, the first Amazing Spider-Man game for DS is something of a spiritual successor to the Game Boy Amazing Spider-Man games. It accomplishes everything it set out to do while also harnessing several of the best ideas from the Metroidvania genre.
It’s not quite a full-on Metroidvania, but it’s closer than you’d expect. Something that’s a recurring trend in the latter DS Spider-Man games.
Amazing for DS stands on its own as a fun time. It plays well, looks good, and faithfully adapts the home console experience as best it can. All the basics you’d want are executed properly, and there’s unnecessary nonsense getting in the way.
It’s… fine. A solid time-waster, if nothing more than that.
Spider-Man Unlimited for Mobile
It’s an infinite runner. An infinite runner with boatloads of different Spider-people from across the Spiderverse, but other than the vaguest narrative framing, it’s just an infinite runner with the odd boss fight.
The best thing about it is its cel-shaded visuals.
Spider-Man 2 for Psp
Spider-Man 2’s PSP “port” shares a unique lineage in the history of Activision license tie-ins. Like the Quantum of Solace tie-in game, it’s less a true full-on adaptation as it is a very odd blend of new and old.
By all accounts, Spider-Man 2 here is essentially a glorified expansion pack to Treyarch’s first Spider-Man movie tie-in. You’ll see familiar level assets, animations, combos, and catch several overly familiar voice lines.
On one hand, this is actually kinda great seeing as Treyarch’s first title was an inspired step up from NeverSoft’s first 3D Spider-Man game. On the other, the PSP game is clearly an afterthought. No Bruce Campbell for the tutorials, a paltry runtime, and substantially worse level design.
There are different pre-rendered cutscenes with demonstrably worse models interspersed with ones from the home console game.
It’s functionally entertaining enough to escape the piles of Spider-Man shovelware. Especially for fans of this older style of Spider-Man gameplay, there’s something to appreciate here. Though they may be just as easily pleased by revisiting the original Spider-Man games that Spider-Man 2 for PSP draws from.
FLAWED BUT FUNCTIONAL – SPIDER-MAN 3 FOR PS2, PSP, & WII
Speaking of Sam Raimi film tie-ins, remember how great Spider-Man 2 was? No, I mean the Treyarch one for home consoles. Yeah, that one. Well, like Spider-Man 2 for PSP, Spider-Man 3 for PSP, PS2, and Wii is another glorified expansion pack, this time for the mainline Spider-Man 2.
Sadly it doesn’t pick up on any of the story beats or subplots of the Spider-Man 2 game, but it has all the gameplay you remember. Well, save for a less elegant swinging system, that wouldn’t come back until later.
Some people give this game flack, but when you compare this to the other versions, can you honestly tell me this is really the inferior version? The lighting is functional, which is seriously a step up from last time. There’s somehow more traffic and pedestrians here than in the 7th gen version. The story actually more closely follows the plot of the film, while throwing in a nice bit of tragedy with Morbius and Shriek.
The open-world is also vastly more involved, especially on PSP which has an entire additional Conquest mode with more sidequests as you take down crime across the streets of New York City. There’s an entire other gang to fight that ties into Shriek. It’s a lot of effort that’s typically dismissed simply because of the hardware it was released on.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s far from greatness. There’s still plenty of silliness onscreen hour after hour, but it’s not so ridiculous that I can’t recommend playing it for genuine entertainment. The ironic bits are there, but they’re nestled between gameplay fans of Spider-Man 2 will be delighted to see.
THE TONY HAWK GUYS MADE THIS ONE?! – SPIDER-MAN FOR PS1, DREAMCAST, NINTENDO 64, & PC
Spider-Man was a bold reinvention by Neversoft. It features full 3D graphics, expansive levels, a wide array of Marvel characters from across the comics, some top-tier vocal talent, and one of the weirdest final bosses in the history of Spider-Man games.
This game was for many young players their first taste at really being able to play in their own slice of the Marvel Universe… with all the weird, wacky, strange things that it entails.
This is the sort of game where Daredevil and Captain America randomly appear. Or you end up chasing Venom through an apartment complex to slapstick absurdity. There are more over-the-top explosions than in a Schwarzenegger movie. Plus you can’t swing below a certain height limit because the hardware wasn’t capable of rendering a full level to that detail.
Make no mistake, as nostalgic and formative as this game may be for future titles, it’s… aged. You can absolutely still have fun with it, but more in an ironic Adam West’s Batman sort of way. Nothing makes sense, but the fanservice is constant.
Also, don’t play the PC port if at all possible – it runs horrendously with so many bugs. Granted, with how there’s scarcely a mid-level checkpoint to speak of, having save states in an emulator might be for the best anyway.
Smooth Criminal – Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro for PS1
So, you’re Activision. You just had a wildly successful first outing with a 3D Spider-Man game. What do you do? Of course you only release the real sequel on PS1, ignoring every other platform!
Enter Electro is memorable mostly for features accomplished far better in Treyarch’s follow-ups, but it is owed some credit.
For the first time, you could actually play levels on the ground, which somehow was absent from the first game. There’s also an attempt at stealth gameplay for a nanosecond. The plot isn’t constantly throwing so many heroes and villains in your face that you can barely make sense of what’s happening.
While some took issue with Enter Electro daring to pace itself, the result is a less utterly breathless, exhausting experience. It might not be bursting with everything, but that ensures it can nail what it does well without the fluff. Still, I can understand why some put the original above the sequel. For myself, it’s an obvious tie.
Swinging Above the Bar – The Amazing Spider-Man for Mobile
When we last left Gameloft, they were pushing to accomplish something in the vein of Activision’s earliest Spider-Man games. With the Amazing Spider-Man films, Gameloft aimed even higher, managing to craft two games walking a fine line between a 6th and 7th gen experience.
Except unlike Spider-Man 3, there are above-average visuals and functional gameplay. The story is pretty absurd though, not helped by cringeworthy voice acting.
I’m not saying The Amazing Spider-Man for mobile is a jaw-dropping work of art, but you just didn’t expect a mobile game to be this good back in the day. It draws on mechanics not only from Treyarch’s Spider-Man 2 but also Beenox’s home console Amazing Spider-Man games.
There are better open-world Spider-Man games, especially those with stronger stories, but Gameloft tried to deliver something substantial when most expected garbage.
A Sequel of Their Own – The Amazing Spider-Man 2 for Mobile
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is one of the strangest cases in gaming. It’s the first time Yuri Lowenthal would play the famous web-head, years before being cast in Insomniac’s series. Amazing’s second game also shares an incredibly strange relationship with the film it’s based on.
Instead of adapting the plot of the film or expanding on it, each Amazing Spider-Man 2 game is an alternate story with similar events. You’ll still go toe to toe with Electro and Green Goblin, but nothing quite plays out like the film.
Depending on how you feel about the movie, this might feel like a blessing. That doesn’t mean either game quite learned from the film’s mistakes. Each tries to deliver a more expansive tale, boasting even bigger casts with tons more subplots.
Of these alternate tales, Gameloft’s isn’t the most profound. It’s all a conspiracy of Harry Osborn taking over his father’s company and trying to proliferate weapons all over. Venom, Black Cat, Hammerhead, and Kraven all join the party alongside who you’re expecting.
All the tight gameplay of Gameloft’s first effort is here, just bigger. It’s a far sillier, campier take on The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but at least the voice acting is far better across the board.
SPIDER-MAN: FRIEND OR FOE FOR PS2, PSP, XBOX 360, WII, & PC
Friend or Foe is one of those Spider-Man games that fell through the cracks. It’s a great little co-op brawler by future Nintendo developer Next Level Games, featuring a more lighthearted take on the Raimi timeline.
No one’s died in this universe, and as such, Harry Osborn’s actually one of the good guys, siding with his friend Peter. The title received a mixed reception, but for reasons that honestly feel like critics missed the point.
Is it an easier game than most on this list? Yes! It’s a game made for kids to play with their parents, not to test your combo juggling skills.
Is it repetitious? Only in that, it’s a brawler, so, you know, you… brawl through each level. Is that really so different from the other games?
The locations are varied, the characters all feel unique, and there’s a whole mess of extra heroes and villains besides the ones from the Raimi trilogy. The voice acting is surprisingly charming, featuring some serious A-grade talent like James Arnold Taylor of The Clone Wars and Josh Keaton from Spectacular Spider-Man. There was a ton of heart put into what could’ve easily been a mindless cash grab.
The story is definitely not aiming for high art, but it’s charming. The art direction is great, looking fantastic whether on 6th or 7th gen hardware. Levels are brief, snappy, and replayable. Of all the games delisted thanks to Activision letting the Spider-Man license lapse, this one hurts more than most.
It sadly is hard to track down on Xbox 360, PSP, or PC – your best odds are the PS2 or Wii ports. This is an unfortunate, recurring issue with Next Level’s work in tie-in games – their brilliant Captain America game is just as hard to track down.
Metroid: Spider Mission – Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions for Ds
Shattered Dimensions is a surprisingly important tie-in game for the Spider-Man franchise as a whole. The main game helped inspire the Spiderverse comics and subsequent movie, accidentally spawning one of Marvel’s biggest success stories.
Shattered Dimensions actually leans harder into the multiversal shenanigans, with three spider-men trading skills and leaping through holes in reality.
Griptonite’s work here is fantastic, on a level with WayForward’s best. The sheer kinetic ferocity of your attacks. Plus everything you see and experience is fully 3D, if across a 2D plane.
The second screen on the DS shows an ever-growing maze of a map for easy navigation, ensuring you never get lost. Even the sound design is superb, as is the score. With everyone besides Neil Patrick Harris returning from the main game to voice their DS counterparts, there’s no real downside other than the game being shorter and smaller.
Truly a superb piece of work.
The Underdog – Spider-Man: Web of Shadows for Ds
Web of Shadows may have suffered horribly on PSP and PS2, so why on earth would the DS version be better? Well friend, because irony is the 5th strongest natural force in the universe, and it’s on full display in the shockingly good Web of Shadows for DS.
Fully voiced, better paced, beautifully animated, and drawing even harder from Metroidvanias, it’s little surprise that this surprise gem was also crafted by Griptonite.
HOW ON EARTH – THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN FOR 3DS & WII
A great 2D ride is one thing, but what about a fully realized AAA action game in the palm of your hand? That’s the 3DS version of The Amazing Spider-Man.
The 3DS version is rather incredible as it’s virtually feature-complete with the home console game, just excluding the open-world systems for a mission-based linear structure. While the graphics look a bit cruder upscaled on PC, they look darn good on a 3DS screen.
This version was also ported to the Wii, but the limited motion controls hardly warrant playing it there rather than on other home consoles. Or, hey, if you want the entire experience on the go, there’s always…
The Impossible Port – The Amazing Spider-Man for PS Vita
Yes, that’s right! The PS Vita actually has a full-scale open-world port of a Spider-Man game! It struggles to stay above twenty FPS in the open world, and the resolution is cramped, but it’s the full game in your hands.
It’s up there with Resident Evil: Revelations 2 in terms of sheer “This shouldn’t be possible!” awesomeness.
This thing pushes the absolute upper limits of its platform, while still managing to be playable. It’s a jaw-dropping feat.
Unfortunately, it’s also one of the rarest PS Vita games – I’ve seen physical copies go for upwards of $80 USD. And this isn’t even the weirdest version of Beenox’s third Spider-Man game.
SUPER SPEED SPIDER-MAN! – THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN FOR PS3, XBOX 360, WII-U, & PC
Okay so, let’s break it down. Set after the events of the first Amazing Spider-Man, this game was seriously planned at one point as a loosely canonical midquel to the next main film. An extended epilogue, in essence. While that didn’t hold true in the end, the game leans all-in on the cross-species sci-fi aspect, with every boss either being a synthetic cross-species slayer or a biological twist on classic villains like Rhino and Scorpion.
Also, Spider-Man kinda-sorta accidentally unleashes a deadly virus across Manhattan.
The less you think about the plot and its implications, the better.
On Xbox 360 and PC, the experience is a fairly traditional, if faster-paced, Spider-Man game. The inclusion of a web-strike attack and focus mode lets you pull off crazy cool Spider-Man moves in rapid succession.
It’s by far one of the easiest Spider-Man games to play, but you also have to fragile health. The pacing isn’t unlike that of, say, Vanquish or The Force Unleashed. The only part that falls flat is the hilariously easy stealth system.
There’s a heavy emphasis on trying to minimize the HUD, especially on Wii-U, which moves all elements to the tablet Gamepad other than a single button prompt and crosshair.
The Wii-U port is also the only way to experience the DLC, which lets you play games on Peter’s phone, swing around as Stan Lee, or wreak havoc as Lizard and Rhino.
The strangest inclusion of them all though is full PS Move support for the PS3 version. This isn’t a gimmick for some side feature, but a fully embraced mode of play. I’ve never tried it myself but I’m told it’s actually far better than it has any right to be. That honestly describes the game on a whole – it’s not the best Spider-Man game, but there’s a reason some gave it decent scores.
The Amazing Spider-Man is a totally acceptable, brainless romp.
THE EDGY ONE – SPIDER-MAN: WEB OF SHADOWS FOR PS3, XBOX 360, WII, & PC
Spider-Man: Web of Shadows was Treyarch’s final Spider-Man game. After this, they’d go on to be an exclusively Call of Duty-focused studio. After the utter failure of Spider-Man 3, they really honed in on creating an interesting mess rather than a hot mess.
There’s never been a Spider-Man game quite like Web of Shadows before, nor since. In the age of Disney owning Marvel, I highly doubt they’d greenlit a game where Peter Parker can rip Wolverine in half and doom New York to be his symbiote kingdom.
The moral choice aspect is very early 2000’s “Help the old lady cross the street, or kick her into a passing bus’ path.” For an over-the-top, melodramatic superhero soap opera? That’s perfect.
Everything in Web of Shadows is so over the top and crazy. The entire premise of Venom’s symbiotes growing out of control, and turning into a plague, is like Web of Fire done right. The entirety of Manhattan is yours to save or destroy. Major and minor Marvel mainstays all appear, everyone from Luke Cage to frigging Moon Knight.
Several heroes and villains even become available to summon as allies who will support you in the field for sizable chunks of time. And they actually help you!
Tying this all together is some of the most aerial-focused gameplay since Spider-Man 2. Not only do you have additional moves while swinging, but there are now sideways combat moves when facing foes alongside buildings. Again, there’s nothing quite like it.
Now if only it weren’t also a buggy mess half the time. The glitches you can cause are almost as ridiculous as the ones for Spider-Man 3, as are the quick-time event failure animations. There is one way to dodge most of them though – the Wii version.
The Wii port has better performance, total content parity, and next to none of the glitches. Fortunately, the Wii version is also usually around $30-$50 dollars cheaper than the other HD versions. They did not print a lot of copies of Web of Shadows.
Meanwhile, the PC version barely works at all on modern operating systems, so unless you have a Windows Vista PC sitting around, you’re looking at an uphill battle to make it playable.
Still, if you can, you absolutely should play it, if you can find an affordable copy.
GROOVY – SPIDER-MAN FOR PS2, XBOX, GAMECUBE, & PC
From the moment Bruce Campbell greets you with his snarky charm in the tutorial, you know you’re in for something special with Treyarch’s Spider-Man. A lovingly crafted adaptation of the movie, this title is often overlooked for its more ambitious little brother.
It captures everything great about Neversoft’s Spider-Man with a massive graphical update. Throw in a ton of (for the time) destructibility and interactivity most games wouldn’t dream of for their time.
It might not be the fan service palooza given it could only build on Sony’s rights to Spider-Man, but the few extra villains who show up here fit perfectly with Green Goblin’s fancy techno suit. Shocker, Scorpion, and Vulture get the breathing room of multiple stages, really fleshing out your duels with each of them.
What’s even better than the main game are the unlockable extras. You can play as a young Harry Osborn flying his own Green Goblin suit, going toe to toe with the Hobgoblin in an alternate campaign remixing existing levels with new story elements.
There’s four-player web-bowling. Alex Ross’ concept art appearances for Spider-Man and Green Goblin. Even a special Oscorp challenge arena with unique enemies cut from the main game.
While the main game is a great ride there are some flaws that also carry over from the original 2000s game. The cutscenes aren’t the best, most stages won’t let you step foot on solid ground unless you’re locked inside a building. There’s also a mandatory stealth section in Oscorp’s labs that the game really wasn’t built for. Plus an entire two stages with Kraven the Hunter were made exclusive to just the Xbox version, which thankfully is compatible with an Xbox 360 if you still have one lying around.
A LIVING COMIC – ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN FOR PS2, XBOX, GAMECUBE, & PC
Ultimate Spider-Man is a much venerated Spider-Man game, one of the truly great 6th gen tie-in games. At one point it was even meant to be in continuity with the comics, though that didn’t hold true for too long.
Still, it had the comics’ writer, Brian Michael Bendis, on as a story consultant and producer. So, everything is totally 00’s like the rest of the Ultimate Universe, all rendered in a super cel-shaded style.
Plus Ultimate carries on the time-honored tradition of Josh Keaton playing literally anyone other than his most famous TV role – Spider-Man. Harry Osborn in the Raimi trilogy games, and now Eddie Brock in Ultimate. At least in both cases, you get to enjoy playing an iconic villain/antihero.
Because of how the symbiote works in the Ultimate comics, you’re actively encouraged to devour civilians and Silver Sable’s men. It’s the only way to maintain your health as the suit gradually eats away at you. Another slice of dark gameplay I doubt we’ll see in any modern Spider-Man games. It verges on the chaos you can cause in Hulk: Ultimate Destruction,
It’s not that Ultimate is an innovative superhero game, it’s just an immensely polished one. From the animation and sound design to the core gameplay loop. Everything’s presented like a series of playable comic books, even incorporating extra panels on-screen for key moments.
The attention to detail is incredible, bolstered by snappier controls than Treyarch’s efforts. The swinging around on webs might not be all that complex, but as a whole package, Ultimate is easily one of the best Spider-Man games.
Ultimate Spider-Man perfectly captures the feeling of playing in a comic book better than anything before it. Were this list a few years ago, it’d be at the top of the list. However, a few other titles just edge it out with even greater presentation and innovations of their own.
A+ for Effort – The Amazing Spider-Man 2 for PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii-U, and PC
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a polarizing Spider-Man game. It’s associated with one of the most hated Spider-Man movies, which is ironic, as it was granted the same freedom as the mobile game to reinvent Sony’s story however they saw fit.
As a result, neither Electro nor Green Goblin is actually the main antagonist. Kingpin and Carnage are your greatest threats, amid arguably one of the darkest Spider-Man games this side of Web of Shadows.
You might not turn villainous, but Peter is taught by Kraven the Hunter and grapples with some heavy themes about grief, mourning, and morality. This also makes it more controversial as obviously most folks like their Spider-Man games super upbeat.
Not many Spider-Man games meditate on how hard it is to contain gang warfare and how easily society’s institutions can be corrupted from within.
Hero or menace?
The new Hero or Menace system makes it so that the more you take care of random crimes in the city, the better your approval rating. Except wasting time on those means you aren’t tackling the real threat, which is what Kingpin wants. Ignore the citizens of New York, and Kingpin still wins because he can start installing security measures to take you down across the city. These traps emphasize the enhanced swinging system that draws a lot of inspiration from Spider-Man 2.
There are sections where you actually investigate as Peter Parker, interviewing friend and foe alike. An entire sidequest is based around photography.
The mechanics of the first Amazing game are refined and deepened. Side activities aren’t just beating up goons but saving civilians from fires and stopping car chases. There are also additional story elements like audio logs.
However, the facial animations leave something to be desired, and a lot of Peter’s jokes fall flat. There’s not much to do outside of randomly generated missions in the sandbox when not engaging with the story. And it all ends on a cliffhanger only resolved in spirit by what comes next.
Still, Beenox’s final Spider-Man aims to be much more than a simple license tie-in. In many ways, it set the stage for the latest favorite.
The Crowd Favorite – Marvel’s Spider-Man for PS4, PS5, and PC
There’s no denying Insomniac’s soft-reboot has become a major driving force for Spider-Man in gaming. Though the web-head has playable cameos in other games like Avengers, Future Revolution, and Ultimate Alliance 3, none compare to Marvel’s Spider-Man. Well, none compare in terms of sheer recognition.
Though nowhere near as divisive as its predecessor, some were whelmed at launch by the relatively safe gameplay. Great _feeling_ gameplay, but much of it was lifted either directly from Amazing Spider-Man 2 or Ratchet & Clank. Especially with regards to your gadgets. Bold strides would have to wait for later.
The real highlight of Insomniac’s take is the story and presentation. Never has a Spider-Man moved or sounded as beautifully as this Spider-Man game. There are layers to the narrative that I won’t spoil.
Rather than a simple plot of defeating a specific villain who’s out to rule the world, everyone is portrayed with complexity. The storyline is so expansive it’s spread across a season pass of additional plot developments, a novel, and multiple comic book mini-series.
That’s what makes Insomniac’s Spider-Man fascinating to talk about. Keeping in mind how rough the state of Spider-Man games were in the early years of gaming, it’s easy to see why some absolutely love this take on the webhead.
At a time when Spider-Man games were an uneven prospect, something like Marvel’s Spider-Man restored faith in the hero’s ability to lead a game on his own. However, by playing it safe, three other Spider-Man games rise above even Insomniac’s most famous effort.
The Best One – Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions for PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, and PC
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is an incredible pitch. Four different versions of Spider-Man with unique abilities, art aesthetics, and stages built entirely around elaborate boss fights. Essentially four Spider-Man games in one, under a single unified control scheme.
Upgrades and bonuses are unlocked by completing stage-specific challenges rather than just grinding experience points. It’s a fantastic blend of form and function.
The challenges encourage you to not only play more skillfully but explore the depth of each stage. The different Spider-Men emphasize their own facet of Spider-Man’s personality and enduring legacy.
Classic Amazing Spider-Man is the hero as you know him, Ultimate is a teenager struggling with the pressures of growing up too fast, 2099 struggles to not leap in without thinking things through, and Noir broods up a storm.
This is all knitted together with absolutely gorgeous art direction and fantastic sound design. The acting is top-tier, even featuring Neil Patrick Harris as Amazing Spider-Man. All of this translates across every port, even the Wii port!
Beenox’s panache for masterful optimization is on full display. There are unique quips for every stage. Most stages feature wholly unique mechanics like fleeing a mega-Sandman or darting between steel girders to stealth-attack a cannibal Vulture. Out of every stage, only Doc Ock’s falls flat, and that’s more due to a weird gimmick than anything else.
While Shattered Dimensions is Beenox’s first game, it’s by far their best. This was before they had to chase deadlines and were more creatively locked in. Everything great about their later games is here in some form or another, which also means a not insignificant number of ideas in Marvel’s Spider-Man are clearly derived from here.
It’s just such a shame how hard it is to come by a copy. It was briefly relisted on Steam for a reasonable price but then delisted just as quickly.
Out of every original Activision Spider-Man game, this one most deserves a remaster/re-release.
The Other Best One – Spider-Man 2 PS2, Xbox, and Gamecube
Spider-Man 2 truly is an amazing product of its time. For whatever limitations the 6th console generation places upon Treyarch’s second Spider-Man game, they’re outdone by sheer scale, amazing execution, actually maintaining continuity with the preceding game, and of course — the best web-swinging system in the history of Spider-Man games. There’s a reason Spider-Man 2 is held up as one of the very best games of its generation.
Tobey Maguire, Alfred Molina, and Kirsten Dunst all reprise their roles. Bruce Campbell returns to snark in your ear. New story elements expand the tale immensely, such as Peter being pulled into dating Black Cat when Mary Jane is engaged to John Jameson.
Octavius’ descent into villainy isn’t some spontaneous heel turn here but comes after desperately seeking help. A litany of other heroes and villains demonstrate there’s more to Peter’s life than just fighting Doc Ock.
In many ways, every open-world Spider-Man game since is merely an iteration of what Treyarch made over a decade ago. Not until Batman: Arkham Asylum was a superhero game so defining that it altered the landscape of its contemporaries.
Spider-Man 2 is packed with things to do across multiple famous areas of NYC. It had collectibles, races, and an almost Tony Hawk-tier skill ceiling to web-swinging that even future Treyarch games struggled to top.
Plus it still has that 6th gen grit to it. There’s some bite that Insomniac’s Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 lacked. That grounding that you still can be trounced if you aren’t careful and clever. It hammers home the tone of Raimi’s films, which are fantastical but, for the time, more grounded than anything seen previously.
It’s a whole cohesive package. So, what could possibly be better than that?
The Ultimate Best One- Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Miles Morales is the best Spider-Man game to date. It’s not the biggest, fanciest, or heaviest – instead, it tows the balance between all that’s come before.
Miles Morales has everything right about Insomniac’s first foray without any of the fluff and padding. It grapples with real, important themes without bumming you out. And it manages to be gorgeous and creative while still feeling a bit believable.
In every way possible, Miles Morales’ self-titled gaming debut is just better at combining every disparate aspect of his personality, powerset, and personal journey than those that came before.
The shorter eight to twelve-hour runtime in contrast to the thirty or so hours of Peter’s journey demands a focused adventure.
Miles doesn’t fight a cavalcade of villains, but he does go up against one of Spider-Man’s oldest opponents. Many don’t remember, but the Tinkerer and Vulture were the first real foes Peter fights. In redefined ways, Miles gets to go against both of them, effectively translating a classic comic book coming of age for a new audience.
An Ultimate Tune Up
It also helps that everything just plays better. The stealth in the original Marvel’s Spider-Man is, to put it politely a bit of a joke. It absolutely works, but even if you manage to clear an entire set of enemies without setting off an alarm, that just means you have one less wave out of six mandatory spammed waves of goons. With Miles’ invisibility and better missions to navigate, stealth is actually viable.
Miles’ electric ‘venom’ attacks also solve another key issue – the health system. In the original game, it’s very easy to keep yourself flush with health and little other reason to build up a combo meter. Now that same resource can be harnessed for devastating attacks. It leads to one of the best-balanced Spider-Man games in years, even on the hardest difficulty setting.
Finally, Miles Morales’ story is just that good. It’s unflinchingly honest about its themes and arguments. The familiar story beats aren’t repeated how you’d expect, letting Miles Morales stand on its own alongside Into the Spiderverse. The reinvention of the Tinkerer is truly fantastic, elevating the story above even Insomniac’s past heights with Spider-Man.
In every single way, Miles Morales nails what we’ve spent generations waiting for from a Spider-Man game. I hope the sequel on the horizon is even better.