Insomniac Games’ highly-anticipated Spider-Man is almost upon us, and it’s set to (probably) be pretty awesome. Spider-Man looks to be the Spidey game that fans of the friendly-neighborhood-hero have been looking for: tight open-world web swinging, smooth and agile combat, and a cavalcade of fan favourite villains. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for some of the games on this list, and the legendary web-slinger’s outings in the video game world haven’t always been so positive.
We thought it would be fun to highlight some of the worst Spider-Man games of all time, so we can all realize how good we’ve got it with this upcoming release and just how bad it could have been.
These are, in no particular order, some of the worst Spider-Man games of all time.
The Amazing Spider-Man Games (2012, 2014)
I’m lumping both these games together because, well, they both suck, and not much really differentiates them. The games based on the Andrew Garfield/Emma Stone movies is about as underwhelming and opportunistic as you might expect. Both these games were released to coincide with their respective movies, and it really shows.
I thought The Amazing Spider-Man was an okay movie, so I wanted the game to be good, too. Unfortunately, it wasn’t so hot. It’s hardly the worst Spider-Man game ever made, but it’s extremely lackluster. Weak, mushy combat that just doesn’t feel great, unrealistic swinging that lets your webs attach to clouds, sub-par voice acting, and a story that was, well, a load of nonsense. If you absolutely adore this version of Spidey and just want more, then you might get something out of it, but it was a pretty disappointing release at the time.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 did nothing to improve on these issues and was a technical mess when it launched–a game loaded with bugs, glitches and dodgy scripting galore. Another disappointment, but a less surprising one.
Spider-Man: Friend Or Foe (2007)
This game is mainly on the list because of how cool the concept is and how disappointing and boring the final product is. The basic premise of Friend Or Foe is that Spider-Man must work together with many of his archrivals to take down a mysterious villain. It’s essentially Marvel Ultimate Alliance for the Spider-Man universe. Unfortunately, it’s not as varied and exciting as Ultimate Alliance and, ultimately, it’s just not as awesome. While Ultimate Alliance also allowed you to play as a variety of villains, Friend Or Foe only lets you play as Spider-Man, which always seemed like a missed opportunity to me.
A common problem with beat-em-ups is that they lack any sort of depth and can quickly become repetitive. Friend Or Foe definitely suffers from these pitfalls. The combat is very simple and a little too easy, meaning it doesn’t take long for this game to get stale and boring.
The Amazing Spider-Man (1990)
Spidey had quite a few games in the realm of 2D sidescrollers. Some of them were pretty good, like the arcade title Spider-Man: The Video Game, but this one certainly wasn’t. It’s not the most offensively bad game on this list, it’s just boring.
Despite appearances, The Amazing Spider-Man is actually more of a puzzle game than a beat-em-up. The main problem with this game is that it’s slow. Like, really slow. Spider-Man moves like he’s just gotten out of bed after a bad night’s sleep. Some of the puzzles are kind of interesting, but the game is just too lifeless to make it worth slogging through. There’s a bizarre absence of music from most levels, and Spidey is completely lacking in charisma or humor.
Fans of the web-swinger can safely skip this one.
Spider-Man: Battle For New York
A year after the amazing Ultimate Spider-Man, Activision decided to capitalize on that success by making a second game in that universe. Unfortunately, this game wasn’t quite so amazing. A game released only on the Game Boy Advance and the Nintendo DS, Battle For New York is one of the weakest handheld Spider-Man games out there.
The combat is incredibly simplistic, awkward and clunky to control, and hard to even comprehend at times—Battle For New York is just a bad game. It’s one of the many soulless cash grabs to appear on handheld systems around this time. Not good.
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
One of the few instances of a movie tie-in game actually being better than the movie it was tied to. The fact that the game is on this list speaks volumes to just how bad and disappointing the 2007 movie really was. It may be better than the notoriously awful finale to the Sam Raimi trilogy, but it’s still not great.
Following the awesome Spider-Man 2, this underwhelming game was even more disappointing. Spider-Man 3 does little to improve upon its predecessor–the web swinging is still fun, but the combat is clunky and not as smooth as you’d like, the visuals aren’t great for the time, and the camera is dodgy and unpredictable. The addition of quick-time events was somewhat novel, but it wasn’t enough to save this sub-par game.
Spider-Man: Return of the Sinister Six (1992)
The NES era was an unfortunate one for licensed games, especially for Marvel games. Return of the Sinister Six is one of the more embarrassing outings for Spider-Man games. A poor, lifeless cash grab that tried to cheaply profit of the web-swinger. There’s not a great deal to say about this game, it’s just really bad. A slow, clunky platformer akin to many of the other lame licensed games of the era.
The NES version of this dreadful game was made even more shameful by the Game Gear and Master System ports. These ports may have been better, but they still weren’t good.
What do you think about Spider-Man’s history in games? What are some of the worst experiences you’ve had with the web-slinger?