Let's Rank All The Spider-Man Games, From Worst To Best

Illustration for article titled Lets Rank All The Spider-Man Games, From Worst To Best
Image: Kotaku / Marvel

Spider-Man, Spider-Man! Does whatever a spider can! Has he had, lots of games? Yup and many, are the same. Watch out, here’s our ranking of (most) of them!

I’m a huge fan of Spider-Man and from the moment I was old enough to play video games, I’ve been playing Spider-Man games. It turns out Marvel’s famous webhead has starred in a lot of video games. In fact, to make this list easier to read and put together, we had to ignore some of his handheld and phone games. We are also only looking at Spider-Man games where he is the main star or part of a duo. So for a game to be ranked on here, it’s not enough that Peter Par- I mean, SPIDER-MAN is playable or makes a cameo. He needs to be the star!

With that out of the way, here’s our list ranking Spider-Man console and PC games, from worst to best…or as close as we could manage.

Kotaku Weekend Editor | Zack Zwiezen is a writer living in Kansas. He has written for GameCritics, USgamer, Kill Screen & Entertainment Fuse.

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26. Spider-Man: The Sinister Six (1996, PC) 

26. Spider-Man: The Sinister Six (1996, PC) 

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Screenshot: Marvel / Moby Games

Just what every kid wanted: A Spider-Man point-and-click adventure game with terrible action sequences. Wait. Nobody wanted that. But at least it wasn’t a generic 2D side-scrolling beat ‘em up. Speaking of which…

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25. Spider-Man: Return of the Sinister Six (1992, NES/SMS)

25. Spider-Man: Return of the Sinister Six (1992, NES/SMS)

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Screenshot: Marvel / Moby Games

Here is the first of many 2D side-scrolling action games that Spider-Man starred in during the ‘90s. So why is this game at the bottom of the pile? It’s an average NES action game with okay music that you could beat in about 15 minutes. It’s not terrible but it’s barely a Spider-Man game.

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24. Venom/Spider-Man: Separation Anxiety (1995, Gen/SNES) 

24. Venom/Spider-Man: Separation Anxiety (1995, Gen/SNES) 

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Screenshot: Marvel / Moby Games

True, this looks better than Return of The Sinister Six, thanks to being on the SNES, but it isn’t much better. You run around as Spider-Man punching and kicking people until you reach the end. You could replace Spider-Man with any generic hero or action character and this game would be the same, except nobody would be talking about it in 2020.

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23. Spider-Man/Venom: Maximum Carnage (1994, Gen/SNES)

23. Spider-Man/Venom: Maximum Carnage (1994, Gen/SNES)

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Screenshot: Marvel / Moby Games

Released the year before Separation Anxiety (what a name for a comic book video game), this was another brawler starring Spider-Man. However, what makes this a bit more interesting is that you could also play as Venom. And people like Venom, I hear.

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22. The Amazing Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin (1991 Gen, 1993 Sega CD) 

22. The Amazing Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin (1991 Gen, 1993 Sega CD) 

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Screenshot: Marvel / Moby Games

It’s wild how many early Spider-Man games focus on him repetitively punching things. Luckily, Amazing Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin isn’t just about punching. Players are able to web-sling around some areas, crawl walls, shoot webs at bad guys, and even visit Peter’s apartment, where your health is restored over time while you wait on the ceiling. Y’know, Spider-Man stuff!

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21. The Amazing Spider-Man: Web of Fire (1996, 32X)

21. The Amazing Spider-Man: Web of Fire (1996, 32X)

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Screenshot: Marvel / Moby Games

Like Spider-Man vs. Kingpin, Web of Fire isn’t just about punching people and instead includes some wall-crawling and web-slinging. And it includes a nice list of Marvel characters, like fan-favorite Daredevil and Dragonman, a real character from the comics that I didn’t just make up. Seriously. Random fun fact: This was the last game Sega released for the 32X and it would be the last time Sega published a Marvel Comics game until 2008’s Iron Man.

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20. The Amazing Spider-Man (1990, Amiga) 

20. The Amazing Spider-Man (1990, Amiga) 

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Screenshot: Marvel / Moby Games

On one hand, this game doesn’t look or sound great. On the other, it did include large levels that forced players to use Spidey’s different abilities, instead of just having you fight 200 random thugs for an hour. It’s also a weird game, featuring robots that look like R2-D2 and one of the most disturbing life bars I’ve ever seen in a video game. The more damage Spider-Man takes, the more of his skin disappears to reveal his skeleton.

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19. Spider-Man: Friend or Foe (2007, 360/Wii/PS2/PC) 

19. Spider-Man: Friend or Foe (2007, 360/Wii/PS2/PC) 

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Screenshot: Marvel / Moby Games

The most modern spin on the Spider-Man beat ‘em up, Friend or Foe looks nice, with a cartoon style that still holds up in 2020, but it doesn’t do much to innovate on the older Spider-Man games. You can now buy upgrades and visit more levels, but I got bored before I finished it.

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18. Spider-Man (1982, Atari 2600)

18. Spider-Man (1982, Atari 2600)

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Screenshot: Marvel / Moby Games

This is arguably the very first Spider-Man game ever made, and it’s incredible how different it is from what would follow in the ‘90s. It focuses entirely on using Spider-Man’s powers to climb and swing your way up a building. It’s not a great game, but I applaud the developers for making something that tried to take advantage of what makes Spider-Man unique.

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17. The Amazing Spider-Man: Lethal Foes (1994, SNES)

17. The Amazing Spider-Man: Lethal Foes (1994, SNES)

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Screenshot: Marvel / Moby Games

Released only in Japan, Lethal Foes is another side-scrolling 2D Spider-Man action game. However, it looks and sounds great, featuring some lovely pixel art and rockin’ tunes. There are a lot of these games, as you’ve no doubt noticed, but Lethal Foes is one of the best. A fan translation makes it easy to check out today.

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16. Spider-Man (1995, Gen/SNES) 

16. Spider-Man (1995, Gen/SNES) 

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Screenshot: Marvel / Moby Games

Of all the side-scrolling action games Spider-Man got, this is the best. You got web-slinging, you got jumping, you got wall-crawling, you really got it all. And it looks nice, with some terrific art and music, including the classic theme from the animated series released in the ‘90s. I do find Spider-Man a tad too bulky in this game, but that was also a complaint I had with the show, so at least they stayed true to the source material.

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15. Spider-Man: Edge of Time (2011, PS3/360/Wii) 

15. Spider-Man: Edge of Time (2011, PS3/360/Wii) 

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Screenshot: Activision / Marvel

Setting an entire Spider-Man game inside one building sounds like a bad idea on paper and that’s because it is a bad idea. As the follow-up to the much better Shattered Dimensions, it felt like a major step back. It did include some nice alternate suits though, so that’s something.

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14. Spider-Man: Homecoming / Spider-Man: Far From Home VR (2017/2019, PSVR)

14. Spider-Man: Homecoming / Spider-Man: Far From Home VR (2017/2019, PSVR)

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Screenshot: Marvel / Sony/ Moby Games

For free little “experiences” these are better than you might expect. Homecoming is the “game” that I would boot up every time someone came over and wanted to see PSVR. Sticking someone on a tall roof was enough to make some folks start laughing from fear and excitement. This short, free outing is just alright as a game, but as a VR toy it’s great. I’m also lumping the other VR Spider-Man experience in here. It’s a little longer and more involved, featuring web-swinging in VR, which might be too much for some folks. I liked it. These aren’t traditional Spider-Man games, but I still think they deserve a spot on this list.

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13. Spider-Man: The Video Game (1991, Arcade) 

13. Spider-Man: The Video Game (1991, Arcade) 

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Screenshot: Marvel / Moby Games

Yet another beat ‘em up, but thanks to the power of ‘90s arcade hardware, it’s one of the best-looking Spider-Man brawlers ever made. It also includes heroes like Hawkeye and Namor as well as classic villains like Venom. If you want to go back and play one of these many beat-em-ups, this is probably the best one to return to in 2020.

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12. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012, PS3/360/Wii U/PC) 

12. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012, PS3/360/Wii U/PC) 

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Screenshot: Activision / Marvel

Let me be clear: This is a bad game, but still a fun Spider-Man game. It has an open world featuring some okay combat and web-slinging. And that’s better than a generic brawler in my book. However, it did feel barebones compared to previous Spider-Man games.

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11. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014, PS4/PS3/Xbox One/360/Wii U/PC)

11. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014, PS4/PS3/Xbox One/360/Wii U/PC)

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Screenshot: Activision / Marvel

This sequel aimed to fix some of the issues folks had with the prior game. Namely, the team seemed to focus a lot on making web-swinging more enjoyable. And while it’s not as good as later games, or even some of the earlier PS2 games, it was still fun enough that I spent many hours just swinging. (I never beat this one, but I did swing around a lot.) You also get to save Stan Lee in the first few hours, which is about where the game peaks. You can stop playing at that point, unless you want to keep swinging around NYC.

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10. Spider-Man 3 (2007, PS3/360/PS2/PC) 

10. Spider-Man 3 (2007, PS3/360/PS2/PC) 

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Screenshot: Marvel / Moby Games

While there was another, better, game that came out after the classic Spider-Man 2, this was the real, big sequel fans had wanted. And it was a disappointment. It looked rough, it lacked the charm of Spider-Man 2, and felt rushed. It did include Bruce Campbell, so it wasn’t all bad. And the web-swinging was still a blast. Not a bad game, but not quite the sequel folks were wanting.

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9. Spider-Man (2000, PS1)

9. Spider-Man (2000, PS1)

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Screenshot: Marvel / Moby Games

Released back in 2000, this was one of the very first 3D Spider-Man games, and it shows. But the real reason to play Spider-Man was for how it took elements from previous games and translated them into an enjoyable, 3D adventure. It also included a ton of fun cheat codes and wacky Spider-Man suits alongside a simple, comic book-like story. Stan Lee makes a voice cameo, too. Young Zack played this game for months and months and really only stopped when the sequel came out.

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8. Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro (2001, PS1) 

8. Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro (2001, PS1) 

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Screenshot: Marvel / Moby Games

Nearly everything in Enter Electro is an improvement on the previous PS1 game. Now you could walk around on the streets in certain levels. Now you had more abilities. There were more villains too! Spider-Man even had the little webbing-wings under his arms, which I always liked. This and the original together were two classics that stayed in my PS1 for many years.

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7. Spider-Man The Movie (2002, PS2/Xbox/PC) 

7. Spider-Man The Movie (2002, PS2/Xbox/PC) 

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Screenshot: Marvel / Moby Games

I know some folks might disagree with this being so high up on the list, but for me, it was exactly what I wanted. I loved Enter Electro so much and this was more or less that same game, with better visuals and a new Spider-Man. I was also a big fan of the film that came out around the same time, so this was just the perfect game. Going back to it today is a bit rough, but I still had fun the last time I played. And there’s a whole secret mode you can unlock where you play as Green Goblin, who has his own moves and abilities.

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6. Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions (2010, PS3/360/Wii/PC)

6. Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions (2010, PS3/360/Wii/PC)

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Screenshot: Activision / Marvel

Into the Spider-Verse is one of my favorite movies, but while it was the first big Spider-Man film to play around with different dimensions, it wasn’t the first time that sort of storyline had been done before. It first happened in the animated series and comics and it’s even appeared in some games, like Shattered Dimensions. At the time I wasn’t as into this game because it ditched the open-world web-slinging action of the best, previous Spider-Man games. But over the years I’ve grown to enjoy its more linear gameplay and its cast of various Spider-Mans (Spider-Men?) from different universes.

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5. Spider-Man: Web of Shadows (2008, PS3/360/Wii/PC) 

5. Spider-Man: Web of Shadows (2008, PS3/360/Wii/PC) 

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Screenshot: Marvel / Moby Games

This was the game I wanted Spider-Man 3 to be. It looked nicer, had solid web-swinging, and improved combat. It also featured a new storyline that wasn’t based on any films or TV shows. It was a darker game than previous Spider-Man titles, though going back to it today reveals a lot of the writing to be a little overdramatic. Still, it was great fun and also featured narrative choices and different endings, a first for these games.

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4. Ultimate Spider-Man (2005, PS2/Xbox/GameCube/PC)

4. Ultimate Spider-Man (2005, PS2/Xbox/GameCube/PC)

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Screenshot: Marvel / Moby Games

Spider-Man 2 on PS2 and Xbox was an amazing game. And while everyone tends to remember it fondly, fewer people talk about the follow-up, Ultimate Spider-Man, released the following year. That’s a shame because this is a wonderful game and one of the best Spider-Man games ever made. It used the same engine and controls as Spider-Man 2, but was set in the Ultimate Spider-Man universe, with a younger Peter. It also featured comic-book-inspired cell-shaded visuals and was quick to break the fourth wall or make meta-jokes. Some might find Peter too talkative, but I felt it fit the vibe of the game.

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3. Spider-Man 2 (2004, PS2/Xbox/GameCube) 

3. Spider-Man 2 (2004, PS2/Xbox/GameCube) 

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Screenshot: Activision / Marvel

When talking about Spider-Man games there are two eras. The time before Spider-Man 2 and the time after Spider-Man 2. It was that monumental of a game for the character. To this day, people still compare new Spider-Man games to this classic released back in 2004. When developers talk about their upcoming Spidey game they almost always have to reference and talk about Spider-Man 2 and its amazing web-swinging and open world. Here’s the thing though, while the swinging in Spider-Man 2 was amazing, the rest of the game is great too. For example, the “boss fight” against Mysterio. Oh and there’s a lot of Bruce Campbell in here too, which is always a good thing. There’s a reason this game is still fondly remembered and praised: It’s damn good.

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2. Marvel’s Spider-Man (2018, PS4)

2. Marvel’s Spider-Man (2018, PS4)

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Screenshot: Marvel / Sony / Kotaku

Few games have instantly connected with me and made me euphorically happy like 2018’s Marvel’s Spider-Man. The moment I started web-swinging and zipping around I was sold faster than a $10 Ferrari. What’s amazing though is that the rest of the game is also just as good. The combat is skillful, but fun. It looks incredible too, and has one of my favorite Spider-Man narratives ever, with some superb acting and writing. I teared up toward the end. (If you’ve played the game, you know the moment I’m talking about.) And let’s not forget the great collectibles dotted around the city that were so rewarding to find. More importantly, this is the game that introduced us to a new video game take on Miles Morales. And that led us to...

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1. Spider-Man: Miles Morales (2020, PS5/PS4)

1. Spider-Man: Miles Morales (2020, PS5/PS4)

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Screenshot: Marvel / Sony

For as much as Spider-Man (2018) gets right, and it gets a lot right, it isn’t perfect. It features some wonky stealth sections as Mary Jane and has a storyline that gets bogged down in the middle with some padding. Miles Morales fixes that, cutting out all the fat and mediocre bits and leaving a lean, pristine, near-perfect video game. The fantastic web-swinging returns, and you now have a whole cast of loveable characters who help flesh out Harlem, the area of the now-snowy New York that Miles calls home. By the end of the game, I wasn’t fighting to save New York, some abstract city filled with people. I was fighting to save my friends and family, who I cared about, who had names and hopes and fears. I didn’t think Miles Morales would be as good as Spider-Man (2018). I was right...It ended up being better. I mean you can swing around NYC with a cat on your back. What more can you ask for?

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Kotaku Weekend Editor | Zack Zwiezen is a writer living in Kansas. He has written for GameCritics, USgamer, Kill Screen & Entertainment Fuse.

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