The best Spider-Man games are surprisingly hard to choose. The web-swinging hero has starred in dozens upon dozens of games since the early 1980s and appeared in countless others, and like most licensed games, Spider-Man games have improved considerably over time. Spidey’s games also span multiple genres but they generally live or die by satisfying combat and movement, and that’s especially true today, which has become a golden age of Spider-Man games.
We’ve played a lot of Spider-Man games in our day, from 2D brawlers to open-world 3D masterpieces, and assembled a definitive list of Peter Parker’s video game escapades. From superhero gameplay to Peter’s characterization, these are the 10 best Spider-Man games around.
10. Spider-Man: The Movie
Release Date: 2002
Platform(s): GameCube, PS2, Xbox
If licensed video-games had a bad reputation in the ’00s, don’t even get us started on movie-tie ins! And yet, despite all of this, Spider-Man: The Movie was a surprisingly good time. You get Tobey Maguire and Willem Dafoe reprising their roles as Spider-Man and Green Goblin, you get a little Bruce Campbell – who narrates the tutorial in phenomenal fashion – and you get some solid combat and boss battles. It’s telling that the success of this game would push Treyarch to become the lead developer on Activision’s Spider-Man games for six years, before ultimately getting a shot at the Call of Duty franchise with 2008’s World at War.
9. The Amazing Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin
Release Date: 1990
Platform(s): Mega CD
One of the great shames of the 8-bit and 16-bit era is that developers didn’t really know what to do with Spider-Man. Atari, Paragon and Rare put in a solid effort, but it was Sega who proved it had the best handle on the character. Released for the Sega CD, The Amazing Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin wasn’t a brainless brawler, but a pretty ahead of its time adventure game. Spidey was able to wall-crawl, web-sling, and even spend a little time in a more open-ended level – all fairly revolutionary for the time. It also looked fantastic, had a great soundscape, and some pretty enjoyable combat mechanics. It’s a fun throwback, even today.
8. Spider-Man: The Video Game
Release Date: 1991
This is one of those quintessential arcade games. The sort that burrowed into the brain, leaving a generation of kids believing that this was the pinnacle of not only Spider-Man games – but superhero games in general. 16 different stages, a story that had you battling everybody from the Sinister Six through to Fantastic Four’s Doctor Doom, and four-player co-op which featured Black Cat, Hawkeye, and Sub-Mariner. Spider-Man games have come a long way since 1991, but Spider-Man: The Video Game is such a pure, joyful expression of the character and the broader Marvel universe he inhabits. Oh, and it looks utterly gorgeous as well, such is the power of the Sega System 32 board.
7. Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro
Release Date: 2001
Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro is perhaps remembered best these days for the delay it suffered, as developer Vicarious Visions pushed back release to modify the final level of the game – the World Trade Center replaced with a generic skyscraper following the September 11 attacks. But Enter Electro deserves to be remembered for so much more than that, particularly for the way that it introduced ground levels; in its predecessor, Spider-Man would be consumed by a weird yellow mist if he swung too low below the skyline of New York – such were the limitations of the time. Still, Enter Electro was a good PlayStation exclusive that had solid combat and a great selection of villains to fight.
Release Date: 2000
Between development of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2, developer Neversoft snuck out a truly ahead of its time Spider-Man game. Okay, so it seems primitive by today’s standards, but Spider-Man was the genesis for the way the character is seen in video games today. It was able to bring Spidey into a 3D space convincingly, and the extra space afforded by the PlayStation CDs meant that we got a properly wise-cracking Peter Parker. It’s full of personality, solid combat, and really showed the potential for the character outside of the simplistic side-scrolling brawlers he had been relegated to headlining in prior years.
5. Ultimate Spider-Man
Release Date: 2005
Platform(s): PC, GameCube, PS2, Xbox
The cel-shaded suits that appeared in Marvel’s Spider-Man from Insomniac are extremely cool, but did you know you could play a whole game like that? Often forgotten, owing to its release date falling in the year the Xbox 360 launched and fewer than 12 months after Spider-Man 2 blew everybody’s socks off, but it’s truly one of the best Spider-Man games of all-time. Treyarch did a fantastic job bringing a younger Peter Parker to life, and an even better job at delivering such a phenomenal looking cel-shaded world. The boss battles held it back from true greatness, but Ultimate Spider-Man did a fantastic job of capturing the vibe and style of the comic books it was drawn from.
4. Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions
Release Date: 2010
Platform(s): PC, PS2, Xbox 360
If you’re a fan of Into the Spiderverse, you might want to check out Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. Released in 2010, developer Beenox made the controversial decision to make a more linear adventure – ditching the open world and, subsequently, the web swinging. This meant Shattered Dimensions was able to step out from the long shadow cast by Spider-Man 2 and take a more focused approach, giving you control over four different Spider-Men voiced by four incredible actors: Amazing Spider-Man (Neil Patrick Harris), Spider-Man Noir (Christopher Daniel Barnes), Spider-Man 2099 (Dan Gilvezan), and Ultimate Spider-Man (Josh Keaton). The pacing and style of play shifted to better emphasize each heroes’ particular strengths; it was just a really good time.
3. Spider-Man 2
Release Date: 2004
Platform(s): PS2, GameCube, Xbox
It may seem a little outdated by today’s standards, but Spider-Man 2 was once the pinnacle of licensed games. This 2004 classic nailed the web-swinging across what was, at the time, a pretty revolutionary open world. If you go back to it now, there’s still a lot to love – there’s a charm to its presentation and structure, its boss battles are excellent, and real joy to had in the feeling of movement and momentum it conveys. Spider-Man 2 was so damned good that it would take over a decade before another video game developer was able to clear the high benchmark set out by Treyarch here.
2. Marvel’s Spider-Man
Release Date: 2018
Platform(s): PS5, PS4
When Insomniac set out to make a modern Spider-Man game, it had the weight of Spider-Man 2 on its shoulders. The 2004 release was the best of an old era of licensed games, and few believed that the Ratchet & Clank studio would be able to topple it… and then we played it, and realized we hadn’t seen anything yet. Swinging around this digital recreation of New York City is exhilarating, enthralling, and utterly enchanting. It’s the version of Spider-Man you grew up reading in the pages of comic books, that the movies kinda-sorta brought to life, only now you’re in full control of the misadventures of Peter Parker. Marvel’s Spider-Man is pure joy.
1. Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Release Date: 2020
Platform(s): PS5, PS4
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is as close to a perfect Spider-Man game as there is right now. Insomniac Games took everything that worked with its 2019 effort and refined it, improving on the core set of combat, stealth, and web-slinging systems, all while cutting the chaff. The result is an excellent adventure that excels in building forward momentum – reflected in the way you’re able to soar through the snowy streets of New York or the way you are pushed through a heartfelt story from the perspective of Spidey protégé Miles Morales. Spider-Man: Miles Morales isn’t just the best Spider-Man game, it’s also one of the best PS5 games too.
There’s more Spider-Man games coming soon! Insomniac is working on a sequel to its award-winning run with the character, with Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 expected to launch in 2023.