I’ve reviewed a few Spider-Man movie tie-in video games for this site over the years, some even like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 on both the PS4 and 3DS when they were just released in 2014, and over the past two weeks I’ve been posting reviews for the ones that I had yet to cover in any capacity. Today’s the day that Spider-Man: Homecoming comes out in North America which starts a new chapter in the web-slingers movie career while also ending the streak of a dedicated Spider-Man console or handheld game releasing alongside a movie. As promised several weeks ago, I’m going to countdown the worst and best Spider-Man movie titles. Which games are the video game equivalent of Spider-Man 2 and which are those that should be never looked at again like The Amazing Spider-Man 2? Read on and find out!:
18) THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (NINTENDO DS) (FULL REVIEW)
Ugly, unchallenging and short even with extra padding thrown in, The Amazing Spider-Man on the original DS arrived at a time when the 3DS had a large enough install base that the only reason this game was more than likely put into production and released was so Activision could trade on the Spider-Man license. Other Ocean’s small output of Marvel games are the farthest things from classics, but their Spider-Man: Edge of Time game at the very least had a few interesting ideas in its design and put the Metroid-vania style of Spider-Man game started by Griptonite on the original DS to a somewhat good use. If you’re looking for a Spider-Man movie game to play on the go, there’s much better options in either the Raimi trilogy variety and the The Amazing Spider-Man family.
17) SPIDER-MAN: FRIEND OR FOE (NINTENDO DS) (FULL REVIEW)
The Spider-Man: Friend or Foe family of games are harmless titles best enjoyed by younger players, and of the different SKU’s of that game, the Friend or Foe game on the original DS is easily the worst. It at the very least tried to do more than just be a basic brawler like the other titles that carry the same name, requiring you to explore across two screens in search of civilians to save among other objectives, but given how it’s not that enjoyable to explore, it would have maybe been for the best if developer A2M stuck with a simpler design when working with the constraints of the underpowered DS. There’s some interesting boss fights here, but everything else feels less feature rich than other Friend or Foe games, including the small number of partners you can pick and the inability to either level up your partner or even pick which one you want for a level. Couple all that with frustrating touch-screen mini-games and you’re left with a game that’s just barely above the one below it.
16) SPIDER-MAN: FRIEND OR FOE (PSP)
Hailing form the same developer as Spider-Man: Friend or Foe on the DS, A2M, the PSP version of Friend or Foe is a game that I’m not sure should even exist. Given that Vicarious Visions managed to squeeze all of their Spider-Man 3 game onto a UMD and make it better, I’m surprised Activision would commission a game built from the ground up just for the PSP instead of just porting over the PS2 game of the same name. Friend or Foe on the PSP is a much more focused game than the DS title, being little more than a shallow brawler like the console game, with some exclusive characters like Electro and Carnage, but you see pretty much everything this game has to offer in its first few stages. Short, but feeling as long as a Persona game given how repetitive it is, Spider-Man: Friend or Foe on the PSP is a functional brawler that’s okay in short bursts but can ultimately be avoided unless you’re the most dedicated Spider-Man fan.
15) THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 (3DS) (FULL REVIEW)
In their tenure making games with in the Spider-Man universe, Beenox produced some decent 3-D Spider-Man games for the 3DS in Spider-Man: Edge of Time and The Amazing Spider-Man. Sadly for the second The Amazing Spider-Man 2 game on the 3DS, Beenox handed development duties off to another studio, High Voltage Software, and the results feel much more phoned in. The game for one loses a dimension, going back to 2-D after being preceded by two 3-D titles, which isn’t a deal breaker as there’s just as many good 2-D Spider-Man games as there is 3-D. Despite still being enjoyable to navigate the game as Spider-Man, the cut-and-paste level design combined with a disjointed narrative cobbled together from the console game of the same name, boring combat and pointless web-swinging transition stages keep this on title on the lower end of the Spider-Man movie game quality spectrum.
14) SPIDER-MAN 2 (NINTENDO DS) (FULL REVIEW)
The first and second Spider-Man movie games on the Game Boy Advance were nothing spectacular, but they’re nice looking, fun to play, solid 2-D action platform games. The Spider-Man 2 game that the DS game received was an admirable first effort from developer Vicarious Visions, but issues with the games convoluted levels, frustrating difficulty and pointless touch-screen distractions keep it from being perhaps one of the worst outings with the character in the developers history. Spider-Man’s locomotion controls are far better than what’s present in the Game Boy Advance Spider-Man movie titles, but like the console Spider-Man 2 game, that comes at a price of not-so-great combat that for the most part will get you killed. That’s not a good thing in a game where death has a steep penalty of sending you all the way back to the start of levels that are not very fun to play through due to their confusing maze-like structure. It’s too bad the pointless touch screen mini-games weren’t removed and had a map put on the lower screen in their place.
13) SPIDER-MAN: FRIEND OR FOE (XBOX 360/Wii) (FULL REVIEW)
Released in the same year as four unique versions of Spider-Man 3, Spider-Man: Friend or Foe is an interesting movie game in that it isn’t based on any one film, but rather uses villains from the Sam Raimi film trilogy along with other heroes and villains from the Marvel Universe to craft a globe-trotting adventure for the title character. The concept is interesting, but the game in which is built around said concept, a generic and easy brawler, is best enjoyed by the younger audience in which it’s targeting. If you can find a like-minded co-op partner, Friend or Foe is worth playing through at least once if you’re a fan, but there’s much more engaging Spider-Man games in which to occupy your time with. Also available on PS2.
12) SPIDER-MAN 3 (PS2/PSP/Wii) (FULL REVIEW)
It’s not very often that movie titles have expectations placed on them, but that was the case with most versions of Spider-Man 3. Given how beloved Spider-Man 2 was on home consoles, I’m sure there were a lot of people back in 2007 who were just looking for just more of that only with new bad buys to fight, more variety in the side-content and better content. The at-the-time last generation version of Spider-Man 3 wasn’t developed by Treyarch, who made Spider-Man 2, but Vicarious Visions who were mostly responsible for the movie tie-in games that appeared on various handheld devices. For a first attempt at a 3-D open-world Spider-Man game, Spider-Man 3 is okay, but it’s still nowhere near as good as a game that came close to three years before it with some ugly visuals, once again mandatory side-missions and a short campaign even with it being locked behind said side-missions. The added villain characters add much-needed context to the black suit and if just looking at the PSP port, this would rank much higher, but unless you’re playing it on that device, this is nothing but a disappointment when compared to every Spider-Man game of this variety.
11) SPIDER-MAN 3 (XBOX 360) (FULL REVIEW)
Of all the games that carry the name Spider-Man 3, this was the one that people were most looking forward to back in 2007 as it was from the same developer, Treyarch, who made Spider-Man 2. Similar to the game that came before it, it’s fun when your swinging around a recreated version of New York City, but things take a turn for the worse when you’re doing everything else. Things like repetitive side-missions and poor combat mechanics were far more excusable in Spider-Man 2 as I’m sure it took a lot of time to figure out how to make that game and also meet the strict deadline for a movie game. Given Treyarch’s experience with Spider-Man 2 as well as Ultimate Spider-Man a year after that, it’s a much tougher sell for players to have what amounts to Spider-Man 2 again just with new bad guys, the black suit and obnoxious quick-time events. Also available on PS3.
10 THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 (PS4) (FULL REVIEW)
There’s a lot to like about The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but it keeps throwing up literal road blocks that keep you from having fun. Unlike Beenox’s first The Amazing Spider-Man game, web-slinging is once again accomplished by having to anchor to buildings, something that at the time hadn’t been done in a Spider-Man game in close to six years, and combat owes a lot to Rocksteady’s series of Batman games. There’s also some interesting perks to getting new costumes as they augment certain attributes like strength and stealth where in most games changing suits was purely for cosmetics. If only developer Beenox hadn’t throw in a morality system that forced players into doing the same handful of side-missions over and over again, even during the end game, so they could enjoy simply swinging without having your route blocked off by flying enemies and force field walls, this would rank much higher. There are things to like about TASM2, but you can tell it came at a time when Activision cared more about making money than a good Spider-Man game. Also available on PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Wii U.
9) SPIDER-MAN (2002) (GAME BOY ADVANCE (FULL REVIEW)
The Game Boy Advance series of Spider-Man movie games may not have offered the same level of Spider-Man simulation as their 3-D console counterparts, but they rarely were disappointing or terrible either. Whereas a game like Spider-Man 3 on the Xbox 360 or The Amazing Spider-Man 2 on the PS4 allowed players to swing around more or less just like in Spider-Man 2, they also had things like boring, forced side-missions that dragged down the experience as a whole. The GBA Spider-Man games were far less ambitious in their design, and for the most part were solid, great looking 2-D action plat-formers. The quality of the GBA would only go up from the first chapter, but just because it’s the lesser part of a trilogy doesn’t mean that Spider-Man (2002) is bad, it’s just that they would only get better as the series moved forward and the pseduo-3-D web-slinging that Digital Extremes crafted for this game is still pretty impressive to look at, even today. If only these games had better combat as well as traversal mechanics and more interesting boss fights they may even rank a little higher.
8) SPIDER-MAN 2 (GAME BOY ADVANCE (FULL REVIEW)
Spider-Man 2 on the Game Boy Advance has nowhere near the leap in quality as the game of the same name on console, but it still managed to tighten up a few things from Spider-Man (2002), mainly levels that are far more manageable to navigate. Developer Digital Extremes’ attempt at “open-world” within the cart is admirable, yet had it not been in the game, it would perhaps be for the better but these sections are few and aren’t really frustrating either. Things like web-zipping feel just as awkward as they did in Spider-Man (2002) and the loose-feeling combat isn’t exactly any tighter either, however the tighter level design make this a better overall game, but just slightly.
7) SPIDER-MAN 3 (GAME BOY ADVANCE) (FULL REVIEW)
Of the three Game Boy Advance Spider-Man movie games, chapter three is easily the best, which is only the case for most things Spider-Man 3 related, here and in the DS game that both hail from the same developer, Vicarious Visions. Spider-Man 3 for the GBA is a much better game in nearly every other way than its predecessors, with better combat, tighter traversal skills, and much less cumbersome to navigate levels, all without any 3-D gimmicks. Spider-Man 3 may be easier than either Spider-Man (2002) or Spider-Man 2, but that’s mainly because it’s a much better designed game that save for a few annoying boss fights, is also much less frustrating as well.
6) SPIDER-MAN 2 (PSP (FULL REVIEW)
The PSP was the last handheld to get a Spider-Man 2 game, mainly because the PSP took longer to come out. In the case of Spider-Man 2, the best was most definitely saved for last as this is the best game inspired by the movie to play on the go. Benefitting from the power of the PSP, Spider-Man 2 was the first ever 3-D Spider-Man game anyone could play on a handheld device, and for the most part it works. Using a similar engine and assets as the console version of Spider-Man (2002), it’s far more linear than Spider-Man 2 on consoles which may have been a disappointment to some back in 2005, but the structure is great for pick-up-and-play portable sessions and as Spider-Man (2002) used a similar template to the Neversoft title that spawned the 3-D Spider-Man revolution in the 2000, it’s a good fit for the Spider-Man character and the limitations of the PSP handheld. The major flaw in this game is that the camera control is not the best, but that’s due largely with the PSP device and really not the developers fault.
5) THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (3DS) (FULL REVIEW)
Beenox’s first attempt to make a 3-D Spider-Man game on the 3DS, Spider-Man: Edge of Time, was impressive as it more or less compressed the console game onto a 3DS cart but suffered in a similar way as Spider-Man 2 did on the PSP as camera control was delegated to the directional-pad which is never ideal in a 3-D game. The Amazing Spider-Man on the 3DS is maybe less interesting as a Spider-Man game as it uses the story of Beenox’s game that was released on the PS3, Xbox 360 and eventually the Wii U where Spider-Man’s rogues gallery are reimagined as monsters, but it’s a far more playable and diverse 3-D handheld game than Spider-Man 2. There’s limited X-axis camera movement with the triggers which is a huge bonus, and the combat from the console game of the same name that was largely inspired by the Arkham series survives the transition, as does the ability to sneak around the environments and silently dispatch enemies like in the Noir sections of Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. While it’s disappointing that there wasn’t some type of open environment in which to swing around like in the console game, or for that matter Spider-Man 3 on the PSP, there’s enough content in this game to keep you occupied for a decent amount of time.
4) SPIDER-MAN 3 (NINTENDO DS) (FULL REVIEW)
Just as they impressed by going from a linear Spider-Man game to an open world one in the transition from Spider-Man 2 to Spider-Man 3 on the PSP, so to did Vicarious Visions impress in the drastic leap in quality from the second and third Spider-Man movie games on the original DS. Spider-Man 2 was a well-meaning 2-D action game with some decent movement controls, however lackluster combat, a punishing death system, confusing levels and tacked-on touch screen controls kept it from being a worse game than the GBA title of the same name. Spider-Man 3 on the other hand does open-world as well as expected on the original DS hardware and moves most functions to the lower touch screens that are not only functional, but amazingly intuitive. Easily the best game to carry the name Spider-Man 3.
3) SPIDER-MAN (2002) (XBOX ORIGINAL) (FULL REVIEW)
You never forget your first time.
Spider-Man (2002) ushered in an era of Spider-Man movie games that lasted for over a decade and touched countless handhelds and devices. People credit Spider-Man 2 with being a revolutionary game because of how it handles web-slinging, but for its time, Spider-Man (2002) was a pretty big deal as well. It finally addressed the camera issues prevalent in the PSOne games and it was also the first game that allowed you to fight in the air and web-swing around near indefintely. Sure, games have surpassed it mechanically in nearly every way, but there’s an endearing charm to the first Spider-Man game that makes the game still hold up over fifteen years later. It’s probably the closest “movie” game as it follows the plot of the first Sam Raimi film closer than any of the other Spider-Man movie games, even with the inclusion of villains not seen in the film like Vulture, Shocker and Scorpion. It can never be understated how much fun it is as well to hear Willem Dafoe get to play the Green Goblin. This game is available on the PC, PS2 as well as GameCube, however the Xbox Original version has the most content with an extra mission included featuring Kraven the Hunter, but play this game anyway you can with whatever control scheme you feel most comfortable with.
2) THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: ULTIMATE EDITION (Wii U) (FULL REVIEW)
The criticism for the film The Amazing Spider-Man was that it retreated familiar ground from what Sam Raimi did in 2002, and in many ways so to is Beenox’s game of the same name. Whereas in the case of the movie it was a criticism, in the game it was a compliment. After two linear Spider-Man games in Shattered Dimensions and Edge of Time it was once again nice to swing around an open-world environment as Spider-Man, even if the “realistic” swinging from Spider-Man 2 was taken away in favor of just being able to attach your web-line to seemingly nothing. Web-physics aside, there’s a lot to like about The Amazing Spider-Man: New York City is big with lots of collectibles to track down; Combat, while sometimes overly simplistic, takes a page from Rocksteady’s Arkham games and is easy to learn and there’s a lot of unlockable costumes from both the Raimi trilogy and Marvel Comics. This version of the game is also available on PS3 and Xbox 360, but the most complete version is actually on Nintendo’s Wii U. It’s the only way right now to get the game’s DLC as it was the only version to have it on the disc and not as downloadable content. Though a lot of it is throwaway stuff like pointless recreations of phone games, there’s a mode where you get to swing around as Stan “The Man” Lee. Nuff’ said!
1) SPIDER-MAN 2 (XBOX ORIGINAL) (FULL REVIEW)
Do I love Spider-Man 2? No, but I appreciate it a lot more than I have in the past lately. When taken as a whole package, Spider-Man 2 has a lot of flaws including poor combat, repetitive side-missions, some frustrating boss fights and a problematic camera when in interior environments. Flaws aside though, the importance of Spider-Man 2 to both Spider-Man and super hero games in general cannot be understated. Neversoft proved in 2000 that Spider-Man games could be more than just a beat-em-up with a license thrown on, but it was Treyarch in 2004 that showed that Spider-Man could do the same things in a video game that we had seen him do in comics, animated shows and now movies, and in a movie game that came out barely two years after the last Spider-Man console game no less! Other games have come along and have done what Spider-Man 2 have done but arguably better, but no Spider-Man game since 2004 has really done anything to “wow” players in the same way that that game did. It may not feel as great to do anything but swing around New York City in Spider-Man 2, but when you’re simply web-slinging around NYC, those problems seem trivial.
That’s the Comic Gamers Assemble official list of the best, and worst, Spider-Man movie tie-in video games. Feel that a game was placed too high, or maybe even too low? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments section below and you can also reach out to me on Twitter or on the official Comic Gamers Assemble Facebook page as well to discuss all things Spider-Man and comic book game related.