In 2015 I looked at Acclaim’s roster of in-house produced comic book video games, and in 2016 I’m taking the year-long feature concept further and will determine what is the greatest Marvel console video game of all time. There are some things I’d like to clarify before the feature starts in the new year, the first being the word “console”. Marvel’s output in the video game world over the past few years has been primarily in the mobile space, and it’s simply impossible for me to fairly evaluate all the free-to-play and mobile offerings so while a game like Marvel Heroes may be a fan favourite title, its unfortunately excluded. Also, I simply do not have a PC to run the game, nor the money to purchase one. Secondly, I’ve excluded handheld games as well, limiting the term “console” to a device that requires a TV.
In determining the twelve candidates that I’ll roll out over the course of the year, none of even my favourite portable games like The Invincible Iron Man even made the cut. This is also my own personal list, so people may be upset that their personal game didn’t make the cut. That’s fair, and I welcome all comments and criticism as always, and again, this is my personal list of the best of the best of Marvel console video games.
As to how I went about choosing the twelve candidates, I looked at the games that were the best representation of their respective characters, teams, or the Marvel Universe as a whole that not only were fun to play when they came out, but are still fun now. A lot of the games I’m talking about are also ones that I’ve already written reviews for, and some that I intend to look at next year in some mini-features I’m planning for specific months. For the ones that I’ve already written reviews for, I’ll write a short piece explaining why I feel this game deserves to be considered as one of the greatest Marvel console games of all time while the others will get a fresh review as well as a case plead in their favour. As to what games made the cut and when to expect them, without further adieu:
JANUARY: LEGO MARVEL SUPER HEROES: I planned to look at these games in chronological order of when they were released, but with Lego Marvel’s The Avengers slated to hit in January, I couldn’t think of a better time to revisit this game.
FEBRUARY: X-MEN (ARCADE): The up to six-player simultaneously co-op arcade classic that returned thanks to PSN and XBLA. This is an early example of an X-Men game done right, and who doesn’t think of this stellar beat-em-up when thinking about Marvel’s merry mutants in a video game?
MARCH: SPIDER-MAN/VENOM: MAXIMUM CARNAGE: The only 16-bit game to make the list, this is perhaps the first Spider-Man game that was worth anyone’s time and is still fun to play today. Also it’s one of the few games to actually be based on a comic story and use it as an inspiration for cinemas as well as story telling.
APRIL: MARVEL ULTIMATE ALLIANCE: The thematic sequel to the X-Men Legends series, this was a landmark title in that players could make their own Marvel dream team to fight against the most infamous bad guys of the Marvel Universe. There’s also many versions of this game, but I’ll be looking at the Gold Edition on the Xbox 360.
MAY: X-MEN LEGENDS 2: RISE OF APOCALYPSE: The first of a few X-Men games I plan to look at in the same month, this is still the single best X-Men game on the market to date.
JUNE: SPIDER-MAN (2000): The game that revitalized Spider-Man in the video game world, what more can I say that I haven’t said many times in the past.
JULY: MARVEL VS. CAPCOM 2: There’s been many Capcom themed fighters before this entry, as well as a recent follow-up, but this sequel is still regarded as one of the best 2-D fighters that is still played in tournament settings.
AUGUST: THE INCREDIBLE HULK: ULTIMATE DESTRUCTION: Much like his movie career, the Hulk has had a rough go of it in the video game world as well. However this Hulk meets GTA mash-up makes up for all of the 16 and 32-bit stinkers featuring the character. Despite having a pseudo follow-up in movie tie-in in 2008, this Hulk game has yet to be topped.
SEPTEMBER: ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN: A controversial entry in that in that many ways even I feel this should belong to 2004’s Spider-Man 2, however as this is a personal list, I feel that Ultimate Spider-Man has stood the test of time much better and is probably the best open-world Spider-Man game.
OCTOBER: THE PUNISHER (2005): The Punisher is set to make his debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the second season of Daredevil, and while it’s yet to be seen if this version of the character will beat the likes of Ray Stevenson and Thomas Jane, there’s no doubt that 2005’s The Punisher is the best video game starring the character. Featuring excellent gun-play, brutal torture scenes that border on horrendous and hilarious and the voice talent of Thomas Jane, why this didn’t get a sequel is beyond me.
NOVEMBER: X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE UNCAGED EDITION: Speaking of games that didn’t receive a sequel that shouldn’t, this movie tie-in is the best game starring Wolverine. No other game allowed you to cut loose with Logan’s trademark adamantium claws like this M-rated brawler. Given Marvel’s attitude towards the X-Men lately, it looks like we won’t get to do so any time in the near future, and that’s a crying shame.
DECEMBER: SPIDER-MAN: SHATTERED DIMENSIONS: After a series of disappointing open-world entries, Spider-Man returned to a structure much like his PSOne outings in a game that’s one of, if not the best game to feature the wall-crawling wonder. Spider-Man has never gotten his “Arkham” equivalent game, but Shattered Dimensions is the closest anyone has ever come.