When the public was given a first look at PlayStation 5 software during the summer, easily the game that would’ve caused people to find several hundred dollars for a new console was Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, the next chapter in Sony and Insomniac Games’ new Spider-Man saga. Thankfully, Sony announced earlier this week that those who can’t afford to get a PlayStation 5 – or simply can’t get one if they wanted to – can enjoy Miles Morales on the PlayStation 4.
There are those who are somewhat slighted about this development, perhaps feeling that there should be a clearer generational divide or that Miles Morales won’t be as optimized as it could be because of the development staff having to make a downgraded version. This isn’t the first example of a comic book game that has jumped from one console to another though, as it’s something that has been happening since the second generation of 3-D consoles began in the year 1999. (All of the below dates are for North America only)
NINTENDO 64/SONY PLAYSTATION/PC: August 1999
SEGA DREAMCAST: December 1999
Shadow Man was Acclaim’s second attempt at turning one of the Valiant Comics properties they bought in the mid-90’s into a video game franchise. Unlike Turok before it which stayed on the Nintendo 64, on consoles at least as the first and second games found their way to PC, Shadow Man would come to all of the major home platforms at the time, including Sega’s brand new Dreamcast. Because of the power afforded by that console, the best version of Shadow Man for many years was the one found on the Dreamcast. While the N64 game was nothing to scoff at, the PlayStation version suffered greatly, scoring only a 4/10 from IGN. Nightdive Studios has since rereleased the game on PC, and are now busy working on a remaster that’s set to arrive next year.
SONY PLAYSTATION: August 2000
SEGA DREAMCAST: April 2001
It took Spider-Man a whole console generation to get his very own 3-D game, but it was well worth the wait. Developer Neversoft who broke out a year prior with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, defined what it was like to play around with the wall-crawler in this new dimension, and because of their efforts, it would start a whole new saga in Spidey’s video game career. Spider-Man would jump to many consoles and PC after its release, the most noteworthy port was the one again for the Sega Dreamcast. Handled by Treyarch, who would go on to make Spider-Man 2, the Dreamcast version was the same game but it brought with it a few graphical improvements. Lines could be seen on Spider-Man’s costume where they weren’t before, and Black Cat would get her trademark mast both in and out of cut-scenes.
MARVEL VS. CAPCOM: CLASH OF SUPER HEROES
SEGA DREAMCAST: September 1999
SONY PLAYSTATION: January 2000
This is the first time when a comic book game would get a downgraded version post release. Prior games in what would be known as Capcom’s Vs. Series received excellent conversions on the Sega Saturn, but because of that consoles poor sales in North America, ports for X-Men vs. Street Fighter and Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter would end up staying in Japan. The latter two games would get North American releases on the PlayStation, however due to that consoles architecture, they had to be modified significantly. Many character animations were missing, but most importantly the ability to tag back and forth between fighters like in the arcade had to be axed entirely. Finally with the Sega Dreamcast, players could take the arcade home without having to import as it brought the true experience without the need for compromise, not counting the Dreamcast’s awkward controller for fighting games of course. The same could not be said for the PlayStation version that would arrive early the next year and suffer from the same problems as the games that came before it. It was an enjoyable one-on-one fighter if the PlayStation was all you had access to, it just wasn’t the pure Marvel vs. Capcom title that Sega fans were getting.
X-MEN: THE OFFICIAL GAME
NINTENDO GAMECUBE/MICROSOFT XBOX/SONY PLAYSTATION 2/PC: May 2006
MICROSOFT XBOX 360: May 2006.
Microsoft would get the jump on the third-generation of 3-D consoles with the 2005 release of the Xbox 360. For many months after its release, its library would be bolstered by enhanced ports of games that would appear on the original Xbox. Among them was X-Men: The Official Game, the first true X-Men movie universe tie-in that bridged the second and third films. While the Xbox 360 game was easily the one to pick provided you had the hardware at the time, all it really brought other than better graphics was the ability to accumulate achievements.
MARVEL ULTIMATE ALLIANCE
MICROSOFT XBOX/MICROSOFT XBOX 360/SONY PLAYSTATION 2/PC: October 2006
NINTENDO Wii/SONY PLAYSTATION 3: November 2006
Activision and developer Raven found great success when they placed the X-Men an RPG dungeon crawler, so much so that they applied the concept to the entirety of the Marvel Universe in 2006. Marvel Ultimate Alliance would arrive on about every platform that could handle it starting in October 2006, but it would be a notable part of the launch line-up for Nintendo’s Wii and Sony’s PlayStation 3. While the game was more or less the same everywhere, barring a few graphical differences, the Wii version attached motion gestures to certain moves and the Xbox 360 game would score downloadable characters like Cyclops, Magneto, Venom, Hawkeye and Hulk. While these have since been pulled from digital stores, a “Gold Edition” that put everything on disc was eventually released if you can get your hands on it. Both Marvel Ultimate Alliance and its sequel would come digitally to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, marking the first time Sony players could use the Microsoft exclusive heroes and villains, however they’re no longer available to buy.
MICROSOFT XBOX/SONY PLAYSTATION 2: November 2006
MICROSOFT XBOX 360: November 2006
This fall will mark fourteen years since Superman has starred in his own console game. Originally planned to arrive in time for the summer theatrical release of Superman Returns, the companion game would instead move towards the home video release of the film. It would miss Sony’s new console, but not the Xbox 360. Like X-Men: The Official Game before it, Superman Returns is best enjoyed on Xbox 360, however it’s really only the graphics and achievements that are truly different.
Zen Studios brought back pinball in a big way when they started their digital pinball series in 2010. They smartly used popular licenses to showcase their faithful recreation of the pinball medium, often transcending physical tables themselves by how they told stories through their tables. Zen has crafted tables inspired by Marvel Comics and Telltale’s The Walking Dead, and you’ve never been once required to repurchase tables between generations, that is unless you happened to switch platforms. Presently the Marvel series of tables are not available on the Nintendo Switch too.
Telltale Games, a studio born out of a desire to rekindle the adventure game genre, exploded when they released the Game of the Year winning episode series based on The Walking Dead comic series. In the years that would follow, Telltale would continue the saga and apply the formula to properties like Fables with The Wolf Among Us and DC Comics’ Batman. The problem that arose though is that your saved decisions would carry over from season to season, which was a great idea, that’s until new consoles began to come out. The first two seasons of The Walking Dead arrived during the tail end of the life cycles for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, but in 2013, their eventual predecessors would come in the form of the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. You could answer questions that would emulate your save if you moved platforms, but it wasn’t the same. This would lead to Telltale continuing to support last-gen consoles up until 2016’s Batman: The Telltale Series, whose second season wouldn’t come to some of the consoles the first arrived on. Telltale would close in 2018, however it has since been resurrected by outside parties. A follow-up season to The Wolf Among Us was planned, then cancelled due to the studio’s closure, but is now back on track.
It’s doubtful that your save from the Xbox 360 will still work.
MARVEL’S AVENGERS: BATTLE FOR EARTH
XBOX 360: October 2012
NINTENDO Wii U: December 2012
Had things gone differently, defunct publisher THQ, which has since been rechristened THQ Nordic, would’ve published a first-person action game starring The Avengers to launch alongside the team’s cinematic debut. Due to financial difficulties, that game never saw the light of day and instead we got Marvel’s Avengers: Battle for Earth, a better than it had any right to be motion controlled fighting game from Ubisoft. Using the Xbox 360’s Kincet peripheral, players had to punch, dodge, and lift their legs in the air to make superheroes and villains perform fantastical feats on screen. It can best be described as dorky fun, but not so much so when played on the Wii U. Without the Kinect, Battle for Earth became either a boring game you played on the console’s tablet controller or a not that much more enjoyable experience when played with the Wii remote and nunchuck.
THE LEGO SERIES
When the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One launched in 2013, one of the better games to play on both was LEGO Marvel Super Heroes. Though simple in its design, it was easy to sink hours into the game’s open world missions and fifteen chapter campaign that still remains today one of the best Marvel video games ever produced. Of course, if you weren’t able to upgrade at the time, you were still able to enjoy LMSH on devices like the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii U. LEGO series developer TT Games would continue supporting those consoles even as they ventured into the toys-to-life genre with LEGO Dimensions. Their last multiplatform release that came to the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii U was 2016’s LEGO Marvel’s Avengers.
The toys-to-life genre, games that brought physical toys to life on screen, was big business throughout the early part of this decade, attracting even the mighty Disney who would launch Disney Infinity in 2013. A year later, a sequel would arrive that would add characters from the Marvel Universe and it would also mark the franchise’s debut on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. A final edition, mostly focusing on Star Wars, would come in 2015 but the entire project would get shutdown by Disney in 2016 as they moved towards licensing their properties to other publishers. Throughout the entirety of Disney Infinity’s lifespan, it would never commit to the current generation of consoles, allowing players to join in on the fun regardless of what they owned, and if you upgraded between games, all of your figures would still carry over too.
MARVEL PUZZLE QUEST: DARK REIGN
Puzzle Quest, a tile matching puzzle game mashed up with RPG mechanics, became a surprise hit for publisher D3. Eventually they would marry the idea to the Marvel Comics licenses to create Marvel Puzzle Quest for mobile devices. For those who were weary of jumping into the free-to-play model of the mobile game, D3 along with the help of developer WayForward produced a version free of microtransactions for console. It came to the last and current generation of consoles and was a game in the cross buy category, meaning if you bought it on PlayStation 3 and moved to PS4, you could download it to that console at no extra charge.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: MUTANTS IN MANHATTAN
It’s easy to forget that there was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game released this console generation, but there was, developed by acclaimed studio PlatinumGames no less. For a short while, Activision was partnering with PlatinumGames on producing licensed titles, and while some like Transformers: Devastation turned out okay, Mutants in Manhattan unfortunately didn’t. What should have been a match made in heaven turned out to be a shallow, as well as short, action game that featured none of Platinum’s trademark polish. For all of the games produced during their partnership with Activision, of which Mutants in Manhattan was the last, they came to both the current and last-generation of consoles.
SONY PLAYSTATION 4: 2018
SONY PLAYSTATION 5: 2020
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales might be coming to the PlayStation 4, but those who buy into the Ultimate Edition of the game on PS5 will get an enhanced version of 2018’s Marvel’s Spider-Man. This is no mere upscale either, as it’s using the PlayStation 5’s architecture to produce better character models and animations. On top of that, it will add three new costumes and trophies for players to hunt down.