games / Columns

The Top 8 Marvel Video Games

November 26, 2021 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Marvel Ultimate Alliance

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball! This week I’m here to talk about comic book-based video games, specifically on the Marvel front. Generally speaking, the Marvel games are better than DC ones in terms of quality but also output. Sure, there are some fantastic DC games out there but just not as many as when it comes to Marvel. So I’m here to talk about some of the Marvel ones here. Enjoy:

#8: Spider-Man (2000)

The 2000 version of Spider-Man is the first example I can think of when it comes to a 3D, “modern” super-hero game. If you look back at it now, you can see how primitive it was, but back in 2000, it was damn near cutting-edge. Featuring a 3D perspective, Spider-Man could web-swing, crawl, jump around and sneak in levels to web up bad guys and take them out. There was also a lot of history in the game with over a dozen different Spider-Man costumes for you to find and wear, based on the long history of the character. Even today, the game still kind of works, aside from a few 3D camera issues here and there.

#7: The Punisher (PC)

I’m specifically singling out the PC version of The Punisher game. If you want to get reductive, The Punisher is a pretty standard clone of Max Payne, without the bullet time but with way more violence and gunplay. That’s not actually a bad thing though since it stays very true to the comic book source material. The reason I’m singling out the PC version though is due to the interrogation/torture scenes. On the consoles they were censored to achieve a MA rating. The PC version was also censored but there was a fan-made patch that re-activated the original scenes. There was a patch on consoles also, but it was way more cumbersome to actually use. With that said, it’s kind of shocking there hasn’t been another Punisher game put out, since, comparatively, he’s a fairly easy character to build a game around.

#6: Marvel Ultimate Alliance

The first of the Diablo-like Marvel games and it still is great to play. It has about 30+ characters to pick, depending on the version you play, ranging from mainstay Marvel characters like Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, etc., to slightly more obscure characters like Ronin or Spider-Woman. This game was made before the great Marvel/Fox fracture so a lot of the X-Men were fully in it as well. More than that, of the three MUA games, this was definitely the most Diablo-like, having actual skill points for you to invest in, and gear for you to find and equip. Plus, it wasn’t based on any single comic story or event, it just told its own creative story and it worked. It’s a shame the HD remasters of this (and MUA 2) were such garbage.

#5: X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Like with The Punisher, Wolverine is another pretty good character that you can slot into his own solo game. Not only was it a good comic book game, it was also a good movie tie-in game, which is pretty rare. If you think about it, Wolverine’s main powers are healing and claws, so the game works well based on that. You can take a lot of damage before you have to hang back and regenerate health, which you can actually see happen on the character model. Meanwhile, cutting up guys with your claws is always a blast since the basic enemies go down with one or two swipes. Plus, lunging at guys from halfway across the room was even more fun since they go down immediately after you do it. I really hope the Insomniac Wolverine game has some of the elements from this game in it.

#4: The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction

Unlike Punisher, Wolverine or Spider-Man (to some degree), the Hulk is really a vastly super-powered character that has a real weight to him. With that said, Ultimate Destruction delivers all that power to you in spades. When you go running up a wall it almost feels like the building is going to break apart just by the force alone. Combat was solid, since you had a lot of moves (once you unlocked them), letting you wield a car like brass-knuckles or turning a wrecking ball into an offensive yo-yo. Plus, it was just a lot of fun, most super-hero games before this were level-based games where you go from mission to mission. Ultimate Destruction gave you a pretty big-sized open world for you to just run around in and create havoc.

#3: Marvel Heroes

Marvel Heroes was the other big Diablo-like game but it also ran as a bit of a games service. It was free to play and you could pick any hero to initially start with. If you wanted to unlock more, you either had to farm the currency for it, or just buy them. The thing is, though, it didn’t really feel exploitative. The game did give you the option of picking your favorite hero first, as long as they were in the game, and if you wanted more you either had to put in the hard work, or the hard cash to buy them. Aside from the business aspect, the game was just fun and ever-evolving. It had a lot of sidekicks for you to unlock, a TON of costumes, and a good amount of production values. I’m sure Marvel would jump at the chance to get this game back, if they could, over the dumpster fire known as “The Avengers” right now.

#2: Marvel’s Spider-Man (2020)

If the 2000 version of Spider-Man was the dawn of the superhero game, Spider-Man is generally the culmination of it all. Spider-Man features a beautiful city for you to web-swing around, great combat, an actual interesting story, and plenty of things for you to do. Granted, the game isn’t 100% perfect, some of the stealth sequences were a bit lame, but aside from one DC game in the next column, it’s the best game in the Marvel stable of open-world super-hero games. Plus, Tara Platt is in it and she is magnificent, as always.

#1: Marvel vs. Capcom 2

The best Marvel game isn’t actually the traditional super-hero game, but a fighting game, specifically Marvel vs. Capcom 2. I recently just purchased this game on PS2, for $160, which is expensive but worth it. Bear in mind, I own a copy of it on the Xbox 360, original Xbox and iOS (obviously the best version to play), but it’s such a great game, why not own multiple copies of it? Featuring 23 Marvel characters, well, 22 with an extra Wolverine thrown in, this game gives good service to almost every character, showing their popular powers or moves. The fighting is just good though, it’s the apex of the 2D Capcom fighting game engine, full of screen-filling super attacks and great looking backgrounds. Also, the soundtrack is worth just listening to on its own, it’s such a weird but great departure for a fighting game that it almost doesn’t fit but it makes the game even more special since you can instantly recognize songs. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is still one of the best fighting games around. Now, just give us a current version port of it please, Capcom.

For comments, list which Marvel games are your favorites and why.

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Top 8 DC Video Games