There is quite a huge list of games based on Marvel superheroes, and so condensing it down to just a handful of “greatest” titles is no easy feat – but we’ll take a stab at it. Here we will focus on games that not only received high scores from critics and fans, but also offer unique gameplay compared to your average “superhero action” game, as well as character rosters that should satisfy even the most die-hard Marvel fans.
Marvel vs Capcom 2
Capcom has released so many crossover fighting games, including several featuring Marvel characters, but Marvel vs Capcom 2 was seen as quite simply the best fighting game ever released in its time. Despite being released in 2000, it was and continues to be a staple of fighting game tournaments and eSports.
Featuring around 56 playable characters from the Marvel and Capcom universe, it’s a true gem of a fighting game that pretty much ranks at the top or very near the top of nearly any “best fighting game” list. Good luck finding a copy though – original, sealed PS2 copies can cost nearly $300, with used copies hovering around $100. You’ve got about the same odds finding a copy at your local GameStop as you do getting a royal flush at an online casino, to frame it that way.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
X-Men films and games have always been generally aimed towards a younger audience, so it came as a bit of a surprise when X-Men Origins: Wolverine decided to actually embrace the fact that Wolverine has razor-sharp claws, and claws do some pretty visceral things to flesh.
This wasn’t your Saturday morning X-Men cartoon, this was Wolverine dismembering and decapitating his way through baddies, with appropriate bucket-sized amounts of blood splashing across your screen. But don’t think we’re mentioning this game on sheer violence factor alone – it was, all in all, a darn good brawler game that proved Wolverine’s claws aren’t made out of rubber.
Developed by Treyarch, the studio that went on to develop notable titles in the Call of Duty franchise such as Black Ops and World at War, Spider-Man 2 was an awesome free-roamer released for multiple consoles in 2004.
The game was developed to closely resemble the Spider-Man 2 film also released in 2004, while adding additional villains from the comic books not present in the movie, such as Rhino, Mysterio, Doctor Octopus, Calypso, and others. There’s also a ton of seemingly randomly generated side quests to do, such as stopping a mugging, or ‘rescuing’ a kid’s balloon from floating off.
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
This shockingly good ARPG is like a blend of Diablo style gameplay with a huge roster of Marvel universe characters, and even some console-exclusive characters that may or may not be from the Marvel universe, depending on the console version being played. For example, Todd McFarlane’s Spawn is exclusive to the original Xbox version, whereas you’ll find Tekken characters in the PS2 version. You can check here for a full list of all characters available across platforms.
The PC version is customizable, and thus has a pretty large modding community, giving it the largest roster of characters out of all platforms. Fans of the Marvel universe or just ARPGs in general really can’t skip out on this game.
The Punisher very nearly received an Adults Only rating from the ESRB, because its depictions of violence are absolutely brutal. To be honest, the game before certain cuts were made was almost akin to torture-porn films like Saw and Hostel, as you torture and interrogate bad guys to extract information from them, in some pretty horrifying ways.
Volition made some changes to camera angles and filters to the torture scenes to get the rating dropped to Mature, but let’s not pretend the game solely revolves around brutal interrogation scenes. It’s actually a pretty fun action-shooter, similar in gameplay to titles like Max Payne and Manhunt, with a mixture of explosive violence and stealth gameplay.
Lego Marvel Superheroes
Lego has a large roster of games based on licensed properties, including Harry Potter, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and more. For Marvel Superheroes, Lego really dug deep into the Marvel universe, giving players a roster of around 155 playable characters, not including DLC (which makes it more like 180+).
Typical of other Lego games, Marvel Superheroes focuses on a blend of beat’em up action-adventure, with puzzle solving elements. It’s certainly a kid-oriented game, but adult fans of the Marvel universe will appreciate the incredibly deep roster, and the open-world gameplay is a blast.