Some companies elicit a deep emotional response when you hear their name. Disney, Nintendo, Applebees — all icons in their own right. But one company brings to mind a feeling of hope like none other. Marvel teaches us to conquer the insurmountable obstacles in our lives and to turn our deepest flaws into our greatest strength. Along with 80 years of comics and movies, these video games do just that. Or at the very least, they’re really really fun.
Marvel vs. Capcom 2 (2000)
20 years ago, one of the best fighting games of all time “mega optic blasted” the gaming community in the face. Marvel vs Capcom 2 featured an unheard of 56 playable characters with wildly overpowered abilities such as the infamous Magneto infinite combos. Combine that with new 3v3 matches, a frantic, jazzy soundtrack, plus some of the most iconic sprites of all time, and you’ve got yourself a classic. While Marvel vs Capcom 2 debuted just two years after its predecessor, it would be another 11 years until a third game hit shelves due to a real-life Marvel vs. Capcom licensing dispute. But by that time, MvC2 had solidified itself as one of the most beloved fighting games of all time.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
Once upon a time, we had some great movie tie-in games. Though only loosely based on the film of the same name, X-Men Origins: Wolverine lets you explore the backstory of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine as a hack and slash adventure game. There’s everything you’d expect, from quippy dialogue to brutal claw-based combat. You can get impaled on spikes, decapitate enemies, and lung claw-first to slice someone in half. There’s even an “Uncaged Edition” that bumps up the gore. It’s a blast to play, not to mention it’s probably the only game where self-healing makes sense. And this wasn’t the only great video game based on a Marvel movie.
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Spider-Man 2 shares its name and plot with the Tobey Maguire blockbuster, but adds more comic book characters, while also improving on the mechanics of the previous game. 2002’s Spider-Man used a simplified web-movement system based on the idea that you’re swinging from a helicopter. But while this offered completely free movement, that’s obviously not how Spider-Man gets around. Instead, Spider-Man 2 took a more practical approach. This game allows players to swing from building to building which grounds the game in a more realistic, albeit comic book, reality. In addition, Spider-Man 2 improves on combat with new abilities which continue to influence Spider-Man games to this day.
Marvel’s Spider-Man (2018)
Just as Spider-Man 2 was a must-play for the PlayStation 2, Marvel’s Spider-Man is not to be missed on the PlayStation 4. In fact, Marvel’s Spider-Man is in many ways a love letter to Spider-Man 2. It utilizes building to building web-swinging which plays almost identically. Abilities such as charge jump and web zip are present. But where this game shines is how well you embody Spider-Man. The story is original and captivating, the combat is satisfying, and the web-swinging mechanics gives exploration a sense of rhythm and momentum. Everything in this game is an absolute joy. You should play it, and then you should replay it. Then you should tell your friends to play it. Then we can all freak out about when we’re going to get a sequel because that’s what friends are for.
The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction (2005)
From the studio that brought you The Simpsons: Hit & Run comes the quintessential Hulk experience. Just as the Spider-Man games perfectly capture what it’s like to be Spidey, The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction is all about embodying the carnage that is Big Green. Unlike its predecessor, this game puts Bruce Banner on the backburner so Hulk can do what he does best: smash. Movement through the open-world is smooth with wall-running and grabbable buildings. The combat is rich in combos and special abilities while keeping the option to button mash if that’s more your speed. You can even pull planes down from the sky and swing tanks like they’re Thor’s hammer. You honestly might break a controller with this one.
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (2006)
Before their work on X-Men Origins: Wolverine, game developer Raven Software made three great top-down Marvel games — the best of which was Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. This game boasts a roster of 24 playable Marvel characters in a classic story to save the universe. You’ll visit iconic worlds like Asgard and Atlantis and take on enemies rarely seen outside Marvel comics like Galactus. The entire story is playable solo, where you bounce between heroes at the press of a button, or co-op through local or online play. There’s even a competitive mode where you and your teammates compete for points throughout the story. As one of the best team-up Marvel games, it’ll be interesting to see how the upcoming Marvel’s Avengers stacks up against this list.
What’s your favorite Marvel game? What do you think of the new Marvel’s Avengers game? Will you be giving Iron Man VR a try? Let us know in the comments.
Featured Image: Sony/Marvel/Insomniac