Comic books and video games are simply made for each other, but the two mediums do come with diehard fans that will not easily be won over. For as long as there have been comic book characters, there have been video game adaptations.
The tradition of superhero video games continues to this day and is only frequenting in releases as superhero fever is reaching its peak. Here’s Gamify’s ranking of the top 10 superhero video games of all time for National Superhero Day.
10. InFAMOUS SECOND SON PS4, 2014
Infamous Second Son is the third instalment in the Infamous series and is visually head-and-shoulders above the previous entries. The story follows protagonist Delsin Rowe fighting the Department of Unified Protection (D.U.P.) in a fictionalised Seattle.
Much like the earlier instalments of the series, over the course of the game, Delsin acquires new powers and becomes either good or evil as player choices influence his morality. This game component makes this entry quite unique, as your gameplay actually carries weight behind it, whereas most of the other entries on this list set you up so that you can do no wrong, no matter how destructive your gameplay is.
One of the best parts about this game is the fact that the protagonist is not a well-established superhero from comic book lore. What’s great about this is that you have no preconceptions about what the main character should and should not be able to do. You’re going on the journey with him to find out what he’s capable of with his newly found powers.
InFamous Second Son has a reluctant hero for a protagonist, in the form of a former street-level vandal. Referred to as a “Conduit”, Delsin Rowe has the ability to manipulate materials into either weaponised or world-navigating abilities.
Playing as the reluctant hero that rises to the call, along with the responsibility of your morality rating, this game doesn’t feel like you're playing somebody else’s story. You’re not trying to fill the mould of say Captain America or Superman, this story is as much yours as it is Delsin’s. Not every decision is as black-n-white as some of your cookie-cutter comic heroes may face, and the choices are actually yours instead of feeling stuck to a moral path.
This game upon original release, sold over 1 million copies in 9 days. Making it one of the most successful PS4 games to-date.
9. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order Nintendo Switch, 2019
Although this game is the third in the series, it is set in a different universe to the previous games. With an all-star lineup of Marvel characters in their traditional outfits, it's hard not to get nostalgic and excited to play with any and all of your favourites, from Iron man to Wolverine and everybody in between.
On top of that, the game's story takes inspiration from a lot of the recent Marvel films, including Avengers: Infinity War & Endgame, which are obviously inspired by 1991’s The Infinity Gauntlet comic (A story that casts a much wider net across the Marvel universe characters).
Not to mention the recent Guardians of the Galaxy movies, Black Panther, Inhumans and a handful of iconic comic stories such as Uncanny X-Force, New Avengers, Doctor Strange: Damnation and so on, all have influence over the game’s story threads.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is the first Marvel game published by Nintendo and it comes a full 10 years after the second game in the series, and with that space in time comes a noticeably higher quality game, the principles and mechanics are much like its predecessors but the gaming quality is noticeably superior.
What makes this game a lot more engaging than some of the other titles in this list is the fact that you can have up to 4 players, playing cooperatively, whether that be locally or online. With players choosing from four characters from various Marvel families to traverse linear stages, fight enemies, and defeat bosses. This game is fun to play in a group context.
The game has sold over a million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling games on the Nintendo Switch to-date.
8. The Wonderful 101 Wii U, Nintendo Switch, 2013
This game is one of the most under the radar releases on this list, but that does not take away from the genius behind its concept. The Wonderful 101 was released on the Wii U and its animation style/approach to the content is very on brand for the console, unfortunately this is the very same reason as to why a lot of people missed it in the first place.
The game saw players collecting a total of 101 superheroes with different powers to rotate between in a hack-and-slash strategy game. It was weird, goofy, and an absolute blast.
This game is the answer if you’re wanting to play a superhero game without needing to be too invested in the characters and their arcs. Don’t get me wrong, there is a very convoluted and silly story as the basis for the game, but it’s quite apparent that the story was an afterthought that was built around what the original game idea was.
As the game collects recruits for your superhero horde, you can turn the collective groups into what is referred to as “Unite Morphs”, to overcome difficult enemies and objectives. The more heroes gathered, the greater the special morph powers can be.
Much like Marvel Ultimate Alliance, this game can be played as a single player or a cooperative game of up to 5 players.
7. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes PS4, XBOX ONE, PS3, 2013
LEGO somehow gets their mitts on every pop culture franchise out there and turns out a rich-world game that is somehow both tongue-in-cheek and true to the source material at the same time, and LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is no exception.
Following the gameplay style of past LEGO titles, players are able to control 180 characters from the Marvel Universe, each with their own unique abilities. Meaning you can play the game with your preferred character/abilities, eg fast and agile like Spider-man or strong like Hulk.
Galactus is the main antagonist in the game, which is a breath of fresh air from all the Thanos centric Marvel media at the moment. The game takes place predominantly in a LEGO version of New York City, filled with nods to iconic Marvel locations such as Stark tower.
What makes this game so fun is its light-hearted approach to a large property, casually modelling the character’s appearances around the celebrities that personify the characters on the big screen. The creative team behind the game has also incorporated Marvel Comics co-creator Stan Lee in the game as the ultimate nod to the greatly revered character creator. Not only does he feature in the game but he can also be selected as a playable character that possesses several iconic powers & abilities (RIP big guy).
Lego Marvel Super Heroes is currently the best selling Lego video game of all time.
6. Deadpool PS4, XBOX ONE, PS3, XBOX 360, 2013
The Deadpool game predates the successful Ryan Reynolds movie adaptations and actually sits closer to the release date of the dumpster fire version of Deadpool, also played by Ryan Reynolds in X-men Origins: Wolverine (yikes).
That alone should have been a warning sign to not touch the source material of Deadpool until the fire from earlier died down and yet here we are. In true Deadpool fashion, High-moon studios knew that Deadpool was too self-aware to lay down and die under his awful movie depiction.
Self-aware games aren’t all that common: with the direction the rest of the game industry was heading in, it’s rare for a big budget video game to do anything other than take itself deadly serious, especially when playing with a high profile intellectual property.
This game is one of the most faithful experiences of what it is to be “The Merc with the Mouth”, complete with 4th wall breaking gameplay and a Wade Wilson that cannot feel the weight of what is taking place around him.
All of the characters and animations are strong adaptations of the original comics and not the watered down Hollywood versions, meaning the cartoonish humour and violence just works on every level, there is little that true Deadpool fans can stick their nose up when it comes to this game.
5. Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds PS3, XBOX 360, 2011
I have a distinct memory as a child of walking through my local arcade and seeing the original Marvel vs. Capcom game and it absolutely blew my mind. To see two massive franchises face-off against each other is something I simply never conceived would be possible.
Jump ahead to the fifth instalment (I know, it’s confusing) in the series that simply never should have been and the playable character roster is bonkers. There is a plethora of both iconic and niche characters from both properties in the latest crossover title.
This instalment is the first to use three-dimensional character models instead of two-dimensional sprites. This news has divided audiences as a lot of longtime loyal players of the series are accustomed to the old 2D style, while others (myself included) enjoy playing a more updated looking fighter which still lends itself to the old look.
In Marvel vs. Capcom 3, players select a team of three characters to engage in combat and attempt to knock out their opponents in a tag team style fighter. It features mechanics both new and old in order to make loyal players and newcomers both feel welcome.
One of my favourite parts about this series is your team's ability to perform group moves known as “Crossover Combinations”. It’s like, if the ending of Avengers: Endgame was playable. Just that unexplainable release of endorphins when you see iconic characters side-by-side unleashing hell.
Having the ability to choose 3 characters from a unique line-up, gives you the ability to hedge your bets. If you choose a variety of complimentary characters, you can swap between fighting styles if you’re finding that a particular character isn’t faring too well against an opponent. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing Ryu coping a beating, only to tag in Wolverine and have him turn the tables.
More than 2 million units were shipped worldwide a month after its debut, rendering it a commercial success. For the years that followed, there were multiple updates that expanded the game’s character roster even further.
4. Injustice 2 PS4, XBOX ONE, 2017
When super-human people fight, it shouldn’t look like two average Joes laying into each other, it should be over-the-top and brutal right? Who better to capture this atmosphere than NetherRealm Studios, the team behind Mortal Kombat.
While still managing to be marketable to a large audience, this game manages to capture the darkness and severity of these godly characters absolutely pummeling each other. When you’re versing a friend, there’s no greater feeling than watching your character hit them so hard that they leave the Earth’s atmosphere, only to be slammed back down into the arena.
This sequel game to Injustice: Gods Among Us managed to iron out all the kinks of the original, unveil a ton of new characters, an even deeper story mode, and some awesome character customisation options.
What this game series has done that others haven’t, is develop a comic series on the backend of the game’s success. The backstory to both Injustice games actually has love put into it.
They really could have phoned it in and created a DC Universe fighting game with no real story behind it and people still would have bought into it just to have the ability to smash some of their favourite DC Heroes and Villains together like a child with his action figures. But no, the game’s creators actually developed compelling campaigns that are now canon in the DC comic world.
In addition to a stellar DC character line-up, DLCs for the game also have characters like The Ninja Turtles, Hellboy and Sub-Zero, this may pale in comparison to Marvel vs Capcom’s line-ups but it’s awesome all the same.
This game pays service to its DC fan base offering a little something for everyone. Whether you enjoy the classics or the more contemporary and unique characters, you will be more than happy to literally punch your friend out of this world.
3. X-Men Arcade, 1992
A lot of the games on this list are more recently developed titles. This is obviously due to recent consoles having better capabilities, naturally the games that are developed for these consoles also increase in quality (mostly), yet the arcade version of X-Men is an anomaly.
Long before the Marvel Cinematic Universe built up an increasingly large fanbase, before Hugh Jackman even made Wolverine a household name, the arcade game simply titled X-Men was released back in ’92 and is still quite possibly the most well-known game based on a comic book ever made. This game is a time capsule that has room for improvement yet is perfect all at once. Enjoyed by everyone, whether they grew around its original release or have only just experienced it for the first time last week.
The elevator pitch for this game is; “Double Dragon but with the OG X-Men roster”. This side-scrolling beat ‘em up is based on the character heroes and villains from the 1989 series pilot “X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men”.
If you’re questioning just how good this game is, Konami developed a “deluxe cabinet” version of the arcade, housing two screens so that you and five of your friends could all play cooperatively together as all six unique character options (Cyclops, Colossus, Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler and Dazzler). The bright colours and iconic colours still warm the hearts of those who ever find themselves coming face-to-face with this all-time classic.
2. Batman: Arkham City PS4, XBOX ONE, PS3, XBOX 360, 2011
Batman: Arkham Asylum took the medium of gaming to a new level. Bringing together many of the masterminds from the beloved Batman animated series, Asylum set a new precedent for rich, combat-driven storytelling in video games and introduced an incredible new world. And then, Batman: Arkham City blew the whole thing open by giving us a gigantic city to explore and bash heads in, perfecting this dynamic world that was setup in the first instalment. Arkham City is incredibly layered and remarkably well done.
We find that Batman: Arkham City strikes a chord with the fanbase that is more drawn to the gothic architecture of the animated series, the dark undertones of Frank Miller’s comics and the detective work in “The Long Halloween”.
Improving on Arkham Asylum would be no easy feat, but Rocksteady’s plans for Arkham City was clearly “go bigger, go deeper, BE Batman.” The team took everything that made Asylum such a success and poured it into a dilapidated chunk of Gotham City, before refining and building on their work, involving many of Batman’s greatest foes and improving the game’s already stellar mechanics. The result is spectacular, a unique vision of The Dark Knight that encapsulates what makes Batman so intoxicating as a character.
It’s hard to not get onboard with a Batman game that features Mark Hamill's Joker, Kevin Conroy’s Batman, and a twist ending that still has players stunned to this day.
1. Marvel's Spider-Man PS4, 2018
Much like Batman, Spider-man has seen countless game adaptations over the years and with those numbers there are bound to be both great games and stinkers.
The biggest thing the dynamic character of Spider-man needed in order to truly be portrayed in a game, is a console that was advanced enough to capture all the nuance that comes with a city swinging, arachnid acrobat.
The latest instalment in the world of Spider-man games, simply titled “Marvel's Spider-Man” is by far the best open world game of the bunch for the reason listed above. It walks out the vision that early games cast. You want to feel in control as you swing your character through a beautifully rendered New York cityscape. Bottomline you want to feel like you are Spider-man as much as possible and this is the closest experience to date.
Besides a game that handles better than earlier attempts, this game offers a story that covers a lot of ground within the Spider-verse. There is a little bit of everything here for the fanbase and on top of that it just looks outstanding, I mean the city feels alive, when you swing through Times Square above the traffic you truly feel like a Superhero within a city of civilians that need your help.
You do not just feel like a character completing tasks for an unknown purpose beyond it being the right thing to do. No, you see the beautiful city around you and it is worth protecting.
There are countless videos online that show you the level of dedication and detail the developers put into this game, I’m talking about legible text on enemy rockets, unique civilian AI, alternate voice projections depending on context, and so on. One of the coolest things about this game is simply the iconic locations that are scattered throughout the city, like Doctor Strange’s sanctum on Bleecker Street and the Stark tower.
This game shows that developers were well aware of what needed to go into a Spider-man game in order for it to be as close to perfection as possible… This game delivers.
That's our list, let us know if you feel we left any vital games out.