Ranking All the Spider-Man Games Simply, Bafflingly Titled “Spider-Man”
Spider-Man is my favorite superhero. I love video games. I’ve played many Spider-Man games. And somehow, multiple teams and publishers over a more than 30-year period of Spider-Man video games have just called their game SPIDER-MAN. Do they not see the possible confusion that can stem from that? Of course, this is inspired by the release of Insomniac’s exciting PlayStation 4 exclusive titled, you guessed it, SPIDER-MAN. I’ve seen “Marvel’s” amended to the beginning of the title, but it’s really just called SPIDER-MAN. In fact, why is there so much other media simply called SPIDER-MAN!?! Get creative people! Anyways, I’m taking this bizarre frustration of mine and SPIDER-MAN’s release (see, what am I talking about here?) to rank all the games simply called SPIDER-MAN. There’s going to be a little bit of creative maneuvering here, as with “Marvel’s” SPIDER-MAN. Although some of these games have a prefix or suffix in some official or unofficial title, they are, on the whole, just called SPIDER-MAN. Without further ado, let’s start this entirely pointless and specific exercise that omits some of the best Spider-Man games to satisfy a pet peeve of mine!
(Dis)honorable Mention — SPIDER-MAN (2004)
I’m not sure if this Jakks Pacific Plug & Play set of games truly qualifies, as I’ve seen it referred to as the SPIDER-MAN Plug & Play game (not its proper title, beyond SPIDER-MAN), SPIDERMAN 5 IN 1 TV GAMES (gosh, no hyphen), and SPIDER-MAN CONTROLLER WITH 5 TV GAMES. But know that these games are truly awful. I’ve actually played them. There’s really no point in including this “collection” on this list besides the fact that I want to highlight what gets the mononymous “SPIDER-MAN” treatment and just call your attention to how weird the plug and play industry of the mid 2000s was. Just a bizarre blip in history.
#7 — SPIDER-MAN (1982)
Truly the only Spider-Man game that really deserves its title, being the first, this Atari 2600 game is, like many of its contemporaries, nevertheless woefully unplayable. It’s kind of cool to play the primitive adaptation of the webslinger’s swinging abilities, but otherwise, this is a frustrating, repetitive, simple, and inauspicious debut in the video game medium.
#6 — SPIDER-MAN (1995)
Alternatively called SPIDER-MAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES (although the qualifier is nowhere to be found on the game’s packaging), this platformer was inspired/based on/contained elements of its contemporary animated series, also frustratingly called SPIDER-MAN (1994–98). Like many Marvel platformers of the day, this game (released on Genesis and Super Nintendo as essentially different versions) is pretty unspectacular. It’s certainly not amazing. Zing. It’s just loose, kind of blurry, and lacks any kind of cohesive game feel and satisfying control input. SPIDER-MAN (1995) is just another unremarkable game to be graced with the purity of its title.
#5 — SPIDER-MAN (2007)
OK, this Stern pinball machine is not strictly a video game, but I put a Jakks Pacific Plug & Play game on here. I’ve gotta give some consideration to another unconventional entry, especially one that’s much cooler. I’ve never played this game, based on Sam Raimi’s movie trilogy, but it looks cool. Uh, I just think pinball machines are neat.
#4 — SPIDER-MAN (1991)
As with many of the entries on this list, this game’s title comes with an inconsistent parenthetical. THE VIDEO GAME is often appended to the hero’s name, but c’mon. This game is just called SPIDER-MAN. Like the 1995 animated series game and, as mentioned, many Marvel games of the era, Sega’s beat ’em up has a muddy and cheap-looking aesthetic rendered in slightly elevated detail due to its arcade hardware. I think there was a common attempt to make these games look like the comic books they were based on, which more often than not backfired. In any event, this is still a pretty cool game. It’s a very average, competent brawler with some brief platforming bits, but the game’s fan service in the form of a multitude of Spider-Man villains is pretty cool. It also incorporates other elements of the Marvel universe; Doctor Doom is the final villain and Black Cat, Hawkeye, and, weirdly, Namor the Sub-Mariner are also playable.
#3 — SPIDER-MAN (2000)
Neversoft’s SPIDER-MAN, based in the TONY HAWK’S PRO SKATER (1999) engine, brought the hero into 3D with relative success. Oh, it doesn’t hold up very well, but I hold the game near and dear to my heart. Ironically, the comic book aesthetic was achieved better than most other games in the past (besides the standout Capcom games and such), even in rough, polygonal 3D. There are plenty of cool, substantial villains and controlling Spider-Man in a 3D space is good fun. SPIDER-MAN (2000) is just a solid action adventure from the era, and like many, isn’t as easily played or enjoyed today.
#2 — SPIDER-MAN (2002)
Also known as SPIDER-MAN: THE MOVIE, this game, as you might imagine, was based on the first Spider-Man movie starring Toby Maguire and directed by Sam Raimi. I hold this game even closer in the nostalgia-based portion of my heart than SPIDER-MAN (2000); ironically, I came to the earlier game after this one. It’s actually a more competent movie tie-in than most, a genre which would reach its peak with SPIDER-MAN 2 (2004), which sadly can’t qualify for this list. Unlike its follow-up, this isn’t an open world game, but one that drops Spider-Man into open-ish areas, alternating between invisible walled sections of New York City and enclosed areas. There’s a pretty cool stealth mechanic and simple, satisfying brawling. As with most licensed games, SPIDER-MAN (2002) takes some creative liberties with its source material and injects different scenarios and characters as it sees fit, to its benefit. And who can forget the Matrix-y tutorial level narrated to great effect by Bruce Campbell. I can’t, since I restarted the game many, many times as a child without getting past the first few levels.
#1 — SPIDER-MAN (2018)
It hasn’t been released yet at the time of this writing and I haven’t played it, but I can’t imagine that this Spider-Man game won’t be the best to hold the mononym title, if not the best Spider-Man game ever. I like SPIDER-MAN (2002), but it’s not exactly AAA material.
What are your favorite Spider-Man games simply called SPIDER-MAN? And I guess what are your favorite Spider-Man games, period? Maybe next I’ll do all the games with “Amazing” in the title…