With few exceptions, the rule of thumb used to be that, much like movie games, any game based on a comic book license would turn out to be a real stinker. Luckily, within recent years a plethora of great to fantastic games have arrived to dispel the old trends. This list is a tribute to those games, as well as a tribute to the few old games that managed to break the trend to create fun, enthralling, old-school comic games. NOTE: I have opted to make this a Marvel-only list. Why? Because, sadly the ONLY good game based on a DC license is Justice League Heroes, and that might at best break the list at #9 or 10 anyways. Beyond a few mediocre games like Batman: Rise of Sun Tzu and Teen Titans, the rest of the DC entries really have been abyssmal. Get to it DC! I want my Green Lantern game. Until then... The top 10 Marvel games!

This is simply an old-school, side-scrolling beat-em-up in the same vain as Double Dragon, Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time or Battle Toads. But that certainly doesn't mean it can't be fun! Play as Captain America, Iron Man, Hawkeye, or The Vision. Naturally, the characters are pretty inter-changeable, the only real difference being that Captain's long-range attack is his shield while Vision's is a laser blast. With decent graphics for the time the game was a lot of fun. I still fire it up sometimes for mindless fun: between solid side-scrolling action and fun vehicle levels the game is worth a play. It's probably aged the worst given the 16-bit sound, but an old classic is still a classic.

This game is a side-scroller just like the previous one, only better. Firstly, the gameplay features only two main characters: Spider-Man and Venom. Both are unique. Spidey is fast and nimble, Venom is more of a tank character, able to take and deal more damage though slower. Two unique characters is better than four identical ones in my book. Also, the graphics are very cartoony and stylish, meaning the game has actually aged pretty well. Along with your two characters, you can summon a whole host of allies from Cap America to practically unknown characters like Cloak and Dagger by finding icons of their faces. A little strategy is involved in deciding when to use your icons. Soundtrack by the insane band Green Jelly. Good stuff!

This game came out of nowhere... limited budget, no marketing whatsoever, handheld-only... and a lot of fun! Who could have figured a great game could be made out of such a cheesy villain like Mysterio? The game is, surprisingly enough, VERY difficult! You must often use Spidey's ability to crawl along ceilings and walls to actually avoid the hundreds of thugs waiting to pummel you. Just like in the (616-universe) comics, Spidey's webs are actually limited, meaning you have to use them only when truly needed. An interesting suit-upgrade system ( e.g. without electric protection Shocker will completely fry you) and some tough boss battles... and you have an underdog hit that everyone should check out.

Just like The Avengers and Maximum Carnage, it's a side-scrolling beat-em-up. The reason this scores higher is because it's a much more interesting game for several reasons. For one, it is REALLY difficult. #10 is mostly mindless button-mashing, #9 is mindless button-mashing with minimal strategy. Here, you can choose from many mutants, and all of them play completely different. Wolverine's a self-healing tank, but Cyclops has powerful ranged attacks. You can only choose two mutants every level! Choose Cyclops over Beast and you'll be destroyed in a level with lots of melee foes. Choose Wolverine over Storm and you are literally helpless against some enemies that attack from the ceiling (a couple bosses included). Scores highest of the side-scrollers for being the toughest and most unique.

The very epitome of 2D fighting in my book along with the stronger entries in the Guilty Gear series. This game completely solved all my problems with old-school fighters. It's insanely fast and incredibly frantic, allowing you to switch characters on the fly, use your allies for punishing super-combos, and make all kinds of over-the-top combinations. Who could say no to a match like Wolverine and Captain Commando vs. Strider and the cactus from Samba de Amigo? I'll come out and say it: this game features infinite combos and a very clear tiering system... some characters are better than others, plain and simple. It is not the ultimate balanced 2D fighting game. I want insane combos and speed that keeps me twitching, however, not balance. MVC provides that for me. Features many (if not all) characters from previous fighters like X-Men: Children of the Atom, so I opted for this game over those.

This game is basically the same engine as #2 with better graphics and new characters, but even though it's the same basic game I couldn't help but include it. Why? Because for many of the characters, like Moon Knight, Daredevil, and Ghost Rider, this game is the ONLY way for a comic nerd like me to get their superhero fix with characters besides Spider-Man and Wolverine. I have opted for the next-gen version both because of better graphics (looks great in HD) and new characters like Colossus and Moon Knight. I have chosen the 360 version over the PS3 because Xbox Live offers a downloadable package with interesting new characters (like Venom and Doctor Doom) that is currently 360-only.

Spider-Man 2, the game based on the movie, was the first game that ACTUALLY made you feel like you were playing Spider-Man. It was sandbox-style like Grand Theft Auto, only with Spidey's incredible web-slinging abilities. Unfortunately, the creation of such fantastic web-slinging resulted in less development time spent on stuff like... non-repetetive missions. Spider-Man 3 took the web-slinging from 2 and turned it into a truly great game: a huge, amazing city with you controlling Spider-Man. Fantastic boss battles and better missions make this the ultimate Spidey game. I've chosen the PS3 version because this version lets you control the Green Goblin (!) and his awesome flying board!

If Spidey 3 is the ultimate Spider-Man game, this is the ultimate Hulk game. HULK SMASH. Forget the crappy stealth-based missions in the movie-based game: in this game, Bruce Banner is found ONLY in cut-scenes, and that's the way it should be. Control Hulk and literally tear apart buildings fighting giant mechs and super-powered foes like the Abomination. Smashing stuff earns you upgrade points you can use to unlock new powers. You can do almost anything: pick up a tank and throw it at an enemy chopper. Rip up a car to turn it into giant iron boxing gloves. Drop a building on the enemy soldier. Control Hulk's super-powered mega-jumps. This game is just pure, mad destruction, and it's awesome.

This is largely the same game as the original X-Men Legends and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, only with different characters. Why do I feel this game is the best of the three? For one, the original Legends had single-player missions where you would explore the mansion with a young X-Woman named Magma. While this was fun, it COMPLETELY killed the awesome multi-player mode. None of that here. This is pure dungeon-crawling, level-upping goodness with everyone's favorite mutants. While it doesn't have Spider-Man or Cap. America, it does something M:UA doesn't. For some reason, M:UA removed the ability to level up your character's stats. One of the great elements of replay value is making unusual hero builds (e.g., making Juggernaut a support character instead of a tank). M:UA removes the ability to do that. Additionally, M:UA totally castrated Wolverine >.<. Screw you, X-Men Legends 2 is better.

The reason I made this list. Curious I would pick such an old game that's the same formula as #09 and #10 (side-scrolling beat-em-up) over games like X-Men Legends and Hulk: UD, I know. It's simply THAT much fun. The REAL way to play this is the 6-controller system, not the older 4-controller system. Every mutant has weird mutant powers (Colossus explodes like a nuke, Wolvie shoots lasers from his claws... okay?) But who cares? This is the crown jewel of arcade side-scrollers, equalled only by the fantastic Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time. Who knows how many quarters were wasted on this? I've actually BOUGHT the arcade game of this... I love it that much. Also, it has DAZZLER! YAY! No other X-game lets you control Dazzler. Dazzler and arcade goodness make this #1.

This is my conclusion. Comics rule. These games rule. If you disagree, you suck. But seriously, DC. Make a good game that isn't an X-Men Legends rip-off please.

List by Azrael007 (07/02/2007)

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