Superheroes. They’re everywhere these days. Some of the past decade’s most popular movies are of Superheroes. And yet it’s easy to forget that before that, Superheroes were considered as merely children’s entertainment. Today’s Superheroes have complex storylines and mature themes that rival even the the most popular of dramas. Video games have shared a similar fate with superheroes and both have matured to a great degree. And naturally, since Infamous: Second Son did just come out last week, we decided that this week’s Top 5 should focus on our favorite Superhero Games of all time. Are you ready for our lists? Let’s do this!
5. Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes
Yes, it’s got a ton of infinites. Yes, there’s many problems with the game. Yes, it’s totally broken. I honestly didn’t and still don’t care. The bottom line is this: This is the ultimate mash up of Marvel and Capcom characters in video game history, as well as the one that had an incredible cast to boot. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and its subsequent update Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 does a good job of bringing the game to current fighting game standards, but many characters were absent that people loved from the original. It’s totally personal preference perhaps, but having no Jin, no Mega Man, no Omega Red, and no Psylocke in UMvC3 was an instant deal breaker for me. It’s a game that I would, on occasion, bust out at parties to play with people and still have fun doing so.
4. Marvel Super Heroes
If you peek at Ted’s list, his favorite Superhero game of all time preceded mine. And while I personally admit that I have a special place in my heart for the X-Men, no other fighting game gave me a glimpse of the future of this type of fighting game than Marvel Super Heroes. It’s got Thanos as the main bad guy, along with a bunch of other Marvel characters that not a lot of mainstream comic fans even knew about. Still, this gave the game a lot of spread and allowed Capcom to experiment with what they wanted characters to have on their first Capcom crossover game X-Men vs. Street Fighter.
3. Saints Row IV
Saints Row started off as a Grand Theft Auto San Andreas clone with some comedic elements thrown in. As the series progressed the games slowly took on a personality of their own, ultimately ending up with the blockbuster hit Saints Row: The Third, which almost single handedly revived THQ. The game was a bombastic mix of slapstick humor, refined gameplay, and ridiculous scenarios that completely exceeded players’ expectations. So what’s a developer to do to top this? The answer was in the form of Saints Row IV, a game so crazy that I can only describe it as a blend of every single science fiction and Superhero trope. It parodies everything from Mass Effect’s infamous love scenes to The Matrix, and it does so in quite a liberal fashion. And yes, this counts as a Superhero game because of all the incredible powers you are given in the game. Saints Row IV is the ultimate Superhero sandbox game in my book, and while the review has been pending for several months now, I know that I at least really like the game for it to show up on my Top 5.
Disclaimer: I worked on this game as a QA Tester. Don’t believe me? Check out the QA Tester credits on MobyGames.
Many of my friends and colleagues feel that Spider-Man 2 had the best web slinging out of all the Spider-Man games to date. So much so that the guy who actually invented the feel and gameplay made a whole game that had similar mechanics and got it funded via Kickstarter. But when I think of Spider-Man, I think of this small, unassuming Neversoft game that captured the campiness of the comic books, topped with the cast from the original 90′s Amazing Spider-Man cartoon, as well as some amazingly creative collectibles and unlocks.
1. Batman: Arkham Asylum
If you thought that somehow Batman: Arkham Asylum was going to be lower on my list, then you got another thing coming. Batman: Arkham Asylum is the best game in the series to me because of how focused the gameplay and level design was. There was nothing extraneous about Batman: Arkham Asylum, and it had enough collectibles and exploration elements that kept me going even after I beat the game. It’s one of those games that I’ll forever have in my library and will replay from time to time. That being said, I’ll still play the upcoming Batman: Arkham Knight to close out the series, but I’m slightly a bit pessimistic given that Paul Dini’s not penning the game’s story.
I do not play a lot of Superhero games, so my number 4 and 5 spots this week include games I haven’t spent a lot of time with, but enjoyed nonetheless. There just haven’t been enough superhero RPGs!
5. Injustice: Gods Among Us
I think it’s fairly safe to say that Injustice: Gods Among Us is among the best of Superhero fighting games (alongside Marvel vs Capcom 2). With slick controls, great visuals, and characters that both look and feel as powerful as they should, I had a lot of fun with the limited amount of time I spent with the game.
4. Viewtiful Joe
Stylish, exciting and tough as nails, Viewtiful Joe is one of the best side-scrolling beat ‘em up games I’ve ever played. Unfortunately, I don’t play a lot of side-scrolling beat ‘em up games, so I never got that far into it. But even only a few hours of Viewtiful Joe leaves a lasting impression! It’s fun, challenging and incredibly entertaining to look at. If you never played this game or its sequel, you really, really should.
I showed up to the party a few years late for this one. I didn’t play Infamous until many years after it had been released. But I had heard so many good things about it that I gave it a try. After a few hours of playing it, I shelved it, but then eventually picked it back up, got completely hooked and nearly platinumed the game. I had to play through it on both sides of the moral line, after all. In the end, it turned out to be one of the best experiences I ever had playing a Superhero game.
2. Infamous 2
Infamous 2 was much the same. When this was released for free on PlayStation Plus, it sat on my hard drive for months and months before I finally dug into it. And much like the original, I ended up playing it for far more hours than I would have expected, and playing through the game twice to see both sides of the story. Infamous 2 cleaned up a lot of the rough edges surrounding Infamous, but it had some rough edges of its own as well. However, that didn’t stop it from being a great game, and marginally better than its predecessor. I’m quite looking forward to playing Infamous: Second Son several months or years late as well.
1. Batman: Arkham Asylum
This is yet another superhero game that was so highly recommended that I stepped out of my genre comfort zone to play it. My first impression wasn’t that great, but I stubbornly stuck with it until everything about it just clicked into place and it all made sense. Batman: Arkham Asylum was a perfect realization of Batman as a game. The gadgets, the villains, the setting; everything was spot on. The large amount of content squeezed into the confines of Arkham Asylum made for an extremely focused experience—one that seemed to be lost by the time Batman: Arkham City came around. Batman: Arkham Asylum is the best superhero game I have ever played, and its nearest competition doesn’t even come close.
5. The Punisher (Xbox)
Since The Punisher exists in the Marvel Universe, filled to the brim with superheroes and villains, I am including this particular console outing on this list. An underrated gem, The Punisher is yet another stellar use of a comic character and the world he inhabits. I can’t tell you how much fun I had torturing and executing no name bad guys in brutally violent ways. It was also an extremely competent shooter in it’s own right.
4. Hulk: Ultimate Destruction
A great video game that features Hulk doing what he does best – smashing things. In a relatively open world, the player is free to smash everything in his path while fighting the military and Abomination. While some parts of the story are a bit melodramatic, it’s still quite strong overall and cements it’s massive place on this list.
3. Infamous Second Son
While I’m not quite finished with the game, I can safely put on this list because of one word: Powers. The powers in Second Son are, simply put, extraordinary. Each unique set, while basically serving the same function as the others, varies enough and offers enough tactical pros and cons, that combat and navigation feels different for each. Unfortunately with the game being so new (at the time of this article), I can’t spoil the ones not advertised, but I will say that I thought Sucker Punch wouldn’t be able to top the Neon power. I was definitely wrong.
2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Yes, Buffy. Again. While many might question this game’s place on the list and by extension, the validity of Buffy being a superhero, they probably don’t know much about the character or the show this game is based on. To sum up, Buffy has heightened agility, strength, resilience and healing and senses. By every definition of the word “superhero,” Buffy fits the bill. Her first game, exclusive to the original Xbox (!), was yet another greatly underappreciated game with great level design, good combat mechanics, and a good story. Thankfully it was successful enough to allow for a “sequel” titled Chaos Bleeds. Unfortunately, while every bit as good, Chaos Bleeds wasn’t a success commercially and it remains the last Buffy game on consoles, 11 years later.
1. Batman: Arkham Asylum
Again, while not technically a superhero, Batman is still one of the most, if not the most, iconic of all comic book heroes, so his place on the list is earned. With semantics out of the way, Arkham Asylum is not only the best Batman game ever made, it is also one of the best games I have ever played. With a simple premise, plausible (for a Batman story) and organic integration of gameplay upgrades, a “metroidvania” progression to the game world, incredible fight mechanics, and all around great use of the character and his skillset, Arkham Asylum is unrivaled and as much as I love the games on this list, this one is a very distant first place leaving the others in the dust.
5. X-Men The Arcade Game
This was totally cool, you guys. There was a version of this arcade game that had two monitors and six player support. You can still do 6 players in the PS3 version, though, and it’s totally awesome unless you have to be Dazzler. Everyone wants to be Wolverine and no one wants to be Dazzler.
All 90’s nostalgia aside, this was a fun romp through the universe of the X-Men in the 90’s, when beards were scraggly, ink lines were thick and drippy, and we were totally starting to say swears. The monotony of some of the action is counterbalanced by the wild 6 player action. And who can forget the voice clips, such as “Welcome to Die!” and “Nothing moves the Blob!”
It was around the end of the original PlayStation’s lifespan that we got some really inspired games, some glimpses of the next generation. Spider-Man was a game that was clearly pushing at the seams of the little gray box, with its draw distance issues, and yet there was a freedom to the 3D movement that came with being the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
We would soon get Spider-Man 2, a game hailed by many as the best Spider-Man game ever created, but this was the starting point.
3. X-Men (Sega Genesis)
Old games were good and hard, but X-Men on Genesis was pretty memorable. Possibly because it was ungodly hard, or perhaps it was the puzzle that broke the fourth wall by making you reset your Genesis console to solve it. Quite frankly, it is a shame that games like this will never be made again. Nowadays, hard games have to advertise their nature, and licensed games tend to the easy side of things to attract the largest audience.
2. Batman: Arkham Asylum
When we got to the current generation of consoles, storytelling ability shot through the roof. It was to Arkham Asylum’s benefit to try to tell its own contained story, without trying to tie in to some movie. With a wonderful combat system, exploration, and puzzle solving to get the Riddler trophies, I STILL say the best part of this game is Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill. Disagree with me if you want, but people my age grew up with this.
1. X-Men: Children Of The Atom
Guess why this is number one. Come on, you know me. Fighting games are awesome, and X-Men COTA was really the first “versus” style game, with its super jumps and crazy super moves. Look deep and the game does fall apart, with infinite combos aplenty. However, it was totally a new paradigm in fighting games, and it was exciting. This was how superheroes would battle in a 2D Fighting game.
The series would continue with Marvel Super Heroes before the Capcom crossovers would start, and a legend was born.
And there’s our list of our all time favorite Superhero games. Got any that you wish to share? We’d like to know, so post them in the comments below!