With the release of the long-awaited game, “Batman: Arkham Knight” today, I figured it’d be a good time to take a nostalgic look back at some of the best comic book based video games of the past few decades… (wow we’ve come along way!)
15. Comix Zone (Sega Genesis)
Here was a love letter to 90’s-era comics in video game form. With a concept way ahead of it’s time, this arcade-style beat-em up was about a comic artist who gets sucked into his own comic and then has to fight his way from panel to panel. The main downside is that the game’s nearly impossible and frustrating as hell.
14. The Adventures of Batman & Robin (Super Nintendo)
One of the few noteworthy early Batman games, “The Adventures of Batman & Robin” is a video game adaptation of the fantastic Batman: The Animated Series (which still holds up btw). The game is a really simple side-scrolling platform game. Each level is a recreation of an episode from the show with one of Batman’s rogues as the boss, which completely blew my mind when I was a kid. I fondly remember renting this one from Blockbuster… along with a stack of VHS tapes which I inevitably ended up racking up late fees on…
13. Spider-man (Playstation)
This was the one, the first truly great super hero game. The original “Spider-man: The Game” for the PS1 actually predated the first Sam Raimi / Tobey Maguire Spider-man movie by a few years. This game was actually one of the reasons I got into comics, because of all the references to specific issues. I absolutely loved discovering all the alternate costumes, collectibles, cheat codes, and bonus content. There were a number of Spidey games prior to this one, but this was the first 3D one and the first one worthy of the name. Overall it was a lot of fun and is still good for a laugh between all the web-swinging off clouds and awkward blocky character animations.
12. The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction
Here’s a game concept that could use a remake! Although far from perfect, smashing everything in your path as the Hulk is undeniably fun. Hulk likes.
11. X-Men (Arcade)
The X-Men Arcade Game is an absolute classic. Back in the day, before there was online multiplayer, we actually had to leave the house and use quarters to play games with our friends. Nothing quite as satisfying as slashing up some Sentinels with Wolverine’s adamantium claws, alongside your fellow mutants.
10. Spider-man: Shattered Dimensions
“Spider-man: Shattered Dimensions” is one of the best and most unique Spider-man games. It starts off with our favorite web head (voiced by Neil Patrick Harris!) facing off against Mysterio (with a narration by Stan Lee), who then has to team up with other versions of himself from alternate realities. It’s basically the precursor to the “Spider-verse” event. You get to play through distinctly different eras / environments as Spider-man Noir, Spider-man 2099, and the Black-suited Peter Parker from Ultimate Spider-man. If you’re a fan of the comics, this is a must play!
9. The Walking Dead – Telltale Games
A worthy companion to ‘The Walking Dead’ series (and comics), Telltale Games puts you in the zombie apocalypse and forces you to make some very tough decisions…
8. TMNT III: The Manhattan Project (NES)
Of all the great Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games over the years, this one is often cited as one of the best.
A completely ridiculous and hilarious game starring Deadpool. What’s not to like?
6. Scott Pilgrim vs the World – The Move: The Game
I LOVE this game! Not only as a Scott Pilgrim fan, but as a fan of video games. As you may or may not know, this is the video game adaptation of “Scott Pilgrim vs the World”, a movie adaptation (starring Michael Cera, directed by Edgar Wright) of the graphic novel series by Bryan Lee O’Malley, which is chock-full of video game references (how very meta). This retro-style game is a blast and even more fun with friends.
5. Marvel Ultimate Alliance – series
This follow-up to the “X-Men: Legends” games is a ‘Gauntlet Legends’-inspired RPG featuring A TON of classic Marvel characters, featuring alternate costumes of various versions of each. Although a tad outdated, it’s still a lot of fun and great for some frantic multiplayer action.
4. Ultimate Spider-man
This is sometimes considered the best open-world Spider-man game. It took what made the ‘Spider-man 2’ game so good and built on it. Taking place within the awesome world of Brian Michael Bendis’s Ultimate Spider-man comics, the game featured numerous villains in a recreation of a cell-shaded New York City as gameplay switched back and forth between Spidey and Venom.
3. Marvel vs Capcom – series
Originating in the arcades, this classic fighting game series has been getting better and better ever since, in all it’s button-mashing glory.
2. Injustice: Gods Among Us
From Nether-realm Studios, the creators of the insanely good ‘Mortal Kombat’ games, comes a bad-ass fighting game featuring the best heroes and villains DC has to offer. The game mechanics are spot on, the multi-layered interactive environments (Gotham, Metropolis, Atlantis, etc) are stellar, and the special moves are absolutely bananas! (Superman punches you through the atmosphere?!) If all that’s not enough, the story mode is actually kinda cool! It’s about an alternate universe (inspired by the “Kingdom Come” storyline), where The Joker kills Lois, destroys Metropolis, and drives The Man of Steel insane, Superman becomes a tyrant and then Batman and Lex Luthor lead a resistance against him. The Ultimate Edition of the game is def worth picking up for bonus characters like Lobo and Zod!
1. BATMAN: Arkham Asylum / City
Prior to “Arkham Asylum”, many of my old school fellow Bat-fans may remember that good comic book games used to be few and far between and for some reason (for the most part), Batman games kinda sucked. This was the one that changed all that. “Arkham Asylum” (loosely based on the Grant Morrison book of the same name) is a perfect game. It takes elements from games like ‘Metal Gear Solid’ and ‘The Legend of Zelda’ and does something completely original and awesome. It’s sequel, “Arkham City” improved on just about everything the first game set out to do. Although the prequel ‘Origins’ is sometimes given a bad rep, I still enjoyed it. The series features versions of pretty much everyone worth noting in Batman’s rogues gallery and does them all justice. What’s even cooler than that? Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill the voices of Batman and The Joker respectively (from the Animated Series) reprise their roles to spectacular effect. These aren’t just the best Batman games ever made, they’re among some of the greatest video games of all time.
Honorable Mentions: DC Universe Online, Batman ’89 (Arcade / NES), The Death and Return of Superman (SNES), Spider-man / Venom: Maximum Carnage (SNES), X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse (SNES), TMNT: Turtles in Time (Arcade) Batman: Vengeance, Batman: Dark Tomorrow, Watchmen: The End is Nigh, Wolverine’s Revenge, Spider-man: Web of Shadows, X-Men Legends, Judge Dredd (SNES), The Punisher (Arcade), etc
Erik Slader is a blogger, barista, web tech, digital artist, gamer, comic book aficionado, history buff, part-time nerd, and full-time husband. Creator of “Epik Fails of History” (@EpikFails.com) and writer for SuperheroBeach.com, MovementMagazine.com and ComicZombie.net – check out his digital design portfolio at ErikSlader.com