It’s finally happened, Spider-Man is home!
The news I woke up to this morning via my Facebook feed was that Sony/Disney/Marvel Studios have finally come to an agreement that will allow Spider-Man to become part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This news has caused such a ripple that Marvel has moved its five-year film slate in order to accommodate a new Spider-Man film in 2017, which admittedly is a bit rushed as this will be the second Spider-Man reboot in under two decades, but you know what? It’s MARVEL’S SPIDER-MAN!!! No amount of words can convey how excited I am to write that out as factual information.
To mark this momentous occasion, I’ve done up a list of ten games where Spider-Man has shared the spotlight with someone outside of his established group of heroes and villains. This isn’t a countdown per say, as these games are in no particular order, and another stipulation is that I’m only including games that I have personally had hands-on time with. For example there’s a 90’s Spider-Man arcade beat-em-up where he teams up with Black Cat, Hawkeye and Namor but I’ve never played it personally. So let’s get to the list, starting with…
10) THE PUNISHER: THE ULTIMATE PAYBACK! (GAME BOY) (REVIEW)
This is one of the earliest examples of Spider-Man sharing the spotlight with another character from the Marvel Universe, in this case The Punisher. The Ultimate Payback is a port of sorts of the pretty decent shooter The Punisher on the NES. The game unfortunately didn’t translate as well to the Game Boy handheld, however one thing it did have over its big brother on consoles was that Spider-Man helped saved civilians during certain sections of the game. The inclusion of the web-slinger was such a selling point that he was promoted on the box-art for the title via a special message.
9) MAXIMUM CARNAGE (SNES/SEGA GENESIS) (FEATURE)
One of the better known Spider-Man games in existence, Maximum Carnage was based on the comic event of the same name that saw Spider-Man team up with his arch-nemesis Venom to take out the title character. Joining in the fray as special consumable power-ups were other heroes from outside of the regularly established Spider-Man universe including Captain America, Iron Fist, Cloak, Dagger, Firestar and Deathlok.
8) SEPARATION ANXIETY (SNES/SEGA GENESIS) (REVIEW)
Given the success of Maximum Carnage, Acclaim commissioned a sequel based very loosely on the Venom: Lethal Protector mini-series. While it made sense for all of the heroes that appeared in Maximum Carnage to show up as they were all part of the bloated cross-over from the comics, their inclusion was shoe-horned into SA to keep it in line with its predecessor. Certain heroes like Captain America made a return appearance, but the majority of the summonable super heroes were brand new including Hawkeye, Ghost Rider, and Daredevil.
The biggest cross-over of properties in the 16-bit era came courtesy of LJN when they joined two of Marvel’s easily most popular entities in Spider-Man and the X-Men in Arcade’s Revenge. The introduction level forced the player to use Spider-Man, but after collecting a few blinking collectibles, the game opens up and allows you to play as four members of the X-Men: Cyclops, Gambit, Storm and Wolverine, each with their own levels and play styles.
6) SPIDER-MAN 2000 (PSONE/N64/DREAMCAST) (REVIEW)
Spider-Man released in the year 2000 is regarded by fans as one of the best games to ever feature the character, and the precursor to the game that would forever change Spider-Man games as we know them today, Spider-Man 2. It truly is a Spidey fans dream come true, featuring some of the heroes most iconic villains like Doc Ock, Venom, Carnage and Mysterio, as well as unlockable costumes and easter eggs from his decades of history in comics. Among all that Spider-Man love developers Neversoft managed to squeeze in a few cameos from other Marvel characters such as the Human Torch, Daredevil, The Punisher and Captain America, all of which meet up to play poker once the day is saved.
5) X-MEN: MUTANT ACADEMY 2/SPIDER-MAN 2: ENTER ELECTRO (PSONE) (REVIEW)
2000 wasn’t just a big year for Spider-Man, but for the X-Men as well, as they arrived on the big-screen for the first time in 2000’s X-Men. X-Men was of course met with the fighting game tie-in X-Men: Mutant Academy the same year as Activision’s Spider-Man. Both would see a sequel come out in the twilight years of the PSOne in 2001: X-Men: Mutant Academy 2 and Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro. Each of the games shared characters with one another as Spider-Man became an unlockable combatant in MA2, and Beast, Rogue and Professor X would appear in Enter Electro during the games first level and training levels that took place in the Danger Room.
4) SPIDER-MAN: WEB OF SHADOWS (XBOX 360/PS3/DS/PSP)
Web of Shadows was the first non-movie based console Spider-Man game since 2005’s Ultimate Spider-Man from a new developer in Shaba Games who took over from Call of Duty developer Treyarch. Their first and only Spider-Man game revolved around Eddie Brock spawning symbiotes within New York, turning Manhattan into a quarantine zone.
Depending on what version of the game you play, Spider-Man will meet up with a different set of heroes and villains: The primary SKU on the Xbox 360 and PS3 includes among a few others Luke Cage, Wolverine and Moon Knight; The DS game of the same name allows you to call upon Nightcrawler for help and finally the PSP game allows you to summon Stilt-Man as a support character.
3) MARVEL SUPER HEROES IN WAR OF THE GEMS (SNES) (REVIEW) /(PSONE/SEGA SATURN/PSN/XBLA/ARCADE)
The follow-up to Capcom’s X-Men: Children of the Atom and the foundation for which the VS. Series would be based on, the arcade fighter Marvel Super Heroes is a classic in the fighting genre, marrying Street Fighter’s mechanics with over the top super moves and high-flying aerial combat. Spider-Man was among the numerous players you could select from, along with Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Doctor Doom and the mad titan himself, Thanos.
A version of the game, subtitled War of the Gems was released for the SNES as a pseudo-sequel to X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse. Similar to Capcom’s other hit franchise, MegaMan, players could select whichever level they wanted to tackle first, and unlike Mutant Apocalypse, whatever hero they wanted to play as from a roster of five: Spider-Man, Hulk, Captain America, Wolverine and Iron Man.
2) AVENGERS: BATTLE FOR EARTH (XBOX 360/Wii U)
2012 saw both Marvel’s The Avengers and The Amazing Spider-Man arrive in theatres, however due to rights being held by different companies (Marvel Studios and Sony), neither were allowed to exist in the same universe (until now, that is). When the only real Avengers game arrived later in that year on both the Xbox 360 and Wii U in Marvel’s The Avengers: Battle for Earth, it didn’t have that barrier and Spider-Man was allowed to appear on-screen with the cast of Marvel’s The Avengers along with the Human Torch, future film Avenger Scarlet Witch and X-Men members Storm, Iceman and Jean Grey.
1) MARVEL: ULTIMATE ALLIANCE SERIES
The closest series of games that we can consider real Avengers titles, the Ultimate Alliance series built upon the foundation of Raven’s X-ceptional X-Men Legends series and substituted the Merry Mutants for the Marvel Universe as a whole in a team based action-RPG that is a Marvel’s fans digital fantasy come to life. The first and only sequel, 2009’s Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2, would base a majority of its story on the Civil War cross-over event that saw long time comrades Iron Man and Captain America battle over their views of the superhero registration act, a bill that would force heroes to sign up with the government or else put themselves in the crosshairs of the law. This series will also be the basis for the third Captain America film, Captain America: Civil War, heading to theatres in May of 2016.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go rock out while listening to this: