In honor of the new Spider-Man game arriving September 7th, I believe a look at the webslinger’s history in games is in order. Now despite being a pop culture icon, Spider-Man has had a fair share of spectacular video games.
The beginning of Spider-Man in games
Starting with Spider-Man (1982), made for the Atari 2600 and one of the first games Marvel made based on one of their characters. The main goal was to swing around a single building diffusing the Green Goblin’s bombs, with the addition of defeating various criminals. A simple but entertaining game for an archaic system.
Another fantastic Spider Man adventure that spun two more sequels was The Amazing Spider-Man (1990) made for the Gameboy portable device. It featured a majority of Spider Man’s villains including Green Goblin, Venom, and Scorpion. The premise of the game was to save your wife, Mary Jane, from the hands of the villains. Including wall climbing, the appearance of many of the fan favorite villains, and the common cheesy lines from Peter, this installment of Spider-Man is a wonderful addition to the Gameboy library.
Swinging into the future
Moving from consoles and handhelds, and into the Arcade, we got Spider-Man: The Video Game (1991), a side scrolling beat-‘em-up much like the Double Dragon game. Little did we know that this game will set the tone for all of the Spider-Man games for years to come. Jumping many years forward, we get two games which included the earliest foundation of gameplay we have now for Spider-Man games. Spider-Man (2000) and Spider-Man: The Movie (2002) were two games that featured an almost open-world aspect with the freedom of swinging from building to building and rooftop to rooftop. They have the same mechanic of holding down the trigger button to swing through the air freely and finish your objectives, which wasn’t really seen before. This spawned the next few games to copy the mechanic and improve upon it.
Movie games don’t always have to suck!
Following Spider-Man: The Movie was its sequels Spider-Man 2 (2004) and Spider-Man 3 (2007). The differences between these and the original game are the ability to customize move sets, swing lower to the ground, and a more open world city of New York to swing around in. An interesting mechanic added to Spider-Man 3 is the ability to transform into black suit Spider Man (which we all know is the symbiote Venom), thus entering a ‘rage’ mode.
However, despite the changes in the third installment, I’ll have to say that my favorite is the Spider-Man 2 game. The movie tie-in had similar themes to the actual film, but added a lot more to the source material. It was the first Spidey game to allow you to go below the skyscrapers and walk/fight on the streets. It also included a level up system where you would combat enemies and unlock interesting web finisher combos for battle. The move I always performed was the one that had Spider Man punching the bandits a couple of times before webbing them up and hanging them from a street light. After that, it was like a virtual punching bag that Peter could use to release stress. We all know how stressing “superheroing” in New York is.
Four is better than one
The next games worth mentioning are Shattered Dimensions (2010) and Edge of Time (2011). Shattered Dimensions (2010) featured four different playable main characters, all revolving around the spider persona. This featured our Spider Man, Spider Man 2099 (The spider from a different dimension set in the future), Spider Man Noir (a 1933 version of Spidey that adheres more to violence, stealth, and use of guns), and finally Ultimate Spider Man who is a little more angry due to his permanent bondage to the black suit (Venom symbiote).
Together, these four Spider-Men journey to save the multiverse from total annihilation. In the second game, Edge of Time, it had a similar concept with the exception of only two characters which were our universe Spidey and the 2099 one. I have to give props to these two games for their ingenuity in story telling and use of multiple main protagonists. Each with their own fighting style, voice acting, and story behind each character.
The future is looking Amazing
Finally, I believe I’ll skip to our next Spider-Man game, set to release on September 7, 2018 and made by Insomniac Games. Featuring a completely original story and a Spider-Man that is more mature and experienced than ever before seen in a game. I can’t help but feel excited for a return to the open-world city of New York. Although I highly doubt it can’t trump that guy from the Spider-Man 2 game yelling “Hey watch it! I’m walking here!”