Marvel comics has been with us for decades, and in this time the superhero universe has branched into many different media. Most famous, of course, is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a cultural behemoth that’s impossible to ignore. However, Marvel has also been the basis for a lot of video games, good and bad.
This gaming legacy goes back to the Spider-Man game from the eighties, but in our short list of the best Marvel games of all time we won’t need to go quite that far back. We will still go back to the 2000s, so buckle up.
Without further introduction, let’s talk about…
|Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered||2022-08-12||Action||Insomniac Games||60%|
|Spider-Man: Miles Morales||2022-11-18||Action||Insomniac Games||58%|
|Marvel's Midnight Suns||2022-12-02||RPG||Firaxis||70%|
|Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy||2021-10-26||Action & Shooter||Eidos-Montréal||76%|
|LEGO Marvel Super Heroes||2017-11-14||Adventure||TT Games||89%|
|ULTIMATE MARVEL VS. CAPCOM 3||2016-12-03||Fighting||CAPCOM CO., LTD.||72%|
|Marvel: Ultimate Alliance Bundle||2016-07-26||Action & Shooter||Zoë Mode|
|Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2||2016-07-26||Adventure||Zoë Mode|
Marvel's Spider-Man (incl. Miles Morales)
Insomniac Games have the distinction of making probably the best batch of Spider-Man games since Spider-Man 2. They started with a dedicated Peter Parker adventure in 2018, continued with a Miles Morales-centric sequel in 2020, and are now hard at work making Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, featuring both Spider-Men… and a looming Venom problem.
The games are generally open-world, with plenty of secrets to discover and small problems to solve, but there are also plenty of story-driven, thrilling scripted missions to engage in. On top of that, the regular lives of Pete and Miles are also important, because these games are complete Spider-Man experiences, and the “civilian” side of friendly neighborhood duties has always been essential.
Marvel's Midnight Suns
Midnight Suns is a tactical RPG, gathering a dozen or so superheroes under one roof because of a supernatural threat. The roster includes both household names like Captain America and Wolverine and lesser-known heroes like Nico Minoru or Robbie Reyes’ Ghost Rider. Over time you’ll get to know all of them quite well, as the game puts strong emphasis on forging friendships with the team.
It’s not all for fluff, either, as higher friendship ratings provide meaningful bonuses during missions. They take the form of turn-based combat deployments, with hero abilities represented as cards drawn from hero decks under various circumstances. Combat is both spectacular, thanks to creative animations, and engaging, as making the most out of the hand you drew can be tricky.
Spider-Man Shattered Dimensions
Since the Across the Spider-Verse movie is a hot topic, it would be wrong not to mention Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. Released back in 2010 it featured four different Spider-Men fighting to restore reality on orders from Madame Web. There’s the Amazing Spider-Man, Spider-Man Noir, Ultimate Spider-Man, and Spider-Man 2099 AKA Miguel O’Hara.
Structurally, Shattered Dimensions is very goal-oriented and uses traditional, self-contained missions linked by a shared plot. The story revolves around the Tablet of Order and Chaos, the accidental shattering of which screwed up reality a bit, causing a multiversal intervention in hopes of restoring the artifact. Sadly, SD is very hard to get now, having been out of stores for years.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
|Genre:||Hack and slash|
Another sadly unavailable game. X-Men Origins: Wolverine was based on the movie of the same title, but if you remember that famous dud, don’t worry: unlike the direct source material, the game was actually really good. Not only was the plot given time to develop, but the gameplay was an exciting TPP romp which, especially in the Uncaged version, really let Wolverine’s lethal side shine.
Combat was close in idea to the likes of Devil May Cry, with high-speed, precise combos, except at a rather close distance, as claws don’t offer quite the reach of a sword. An interesting feature was that, true to character, Logan could heal from any non-knockout injury. It happened in real-time: his body literally healed visible, see-through holes in the model. It was cool, and quite graphic.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy
|Genre:||Action & Shooter|
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy were a bit unlucky, as the game came out after the poorly received Marvel’s Avengers. It took a while for the public to realize that it’s a fantastic, focused, single-player adventures with no nonsense… Except for the kind of fun nonsense people expect from this part of the Marvel license: vibrant planets, energy weapons’ pew-pew, and epic adventures.
The game is party-based, but you play as Star-Lord and can give orders (not always obeyed) to your bunch of misfits. There are synergies to find, power moves to deploy, and each member of the team has a different specialty. The game is very cinematic, both in combat and interactive cutscenes, so if you crave more Guardians after the third movie, you should give this game a chance.
LEGO® Marvel™ Super Heroes
Although LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is about to celebrate its tenth birthday, it remains one of the highest-rated Marvel games on Steam, so it’s clearly doing a lot things right. It certainly does a great job selling the scale of the Marvel universe. First of all, the plot is kicked off because Doctor Doom and Loki joined forces, which opens a lot of potential for cosmic shenanigans.
There are nearly 200 characters, ranging from the famous characters like Beast and Deadpool to obscure ones, like A-Bomb or Union Jack, and even a few civilians, for extra variety. Each character has some unique trait or ability, which can be used during specific missions and while exploring the Lego version of the New York City acting as the open-world hub.
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3
|Developer:||CAPCOM CO., LTD.|
Have you ever wondered what it would be like if Wolverine punched Phoenix Wright, you’re in luck, because in Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 you can make it happen. It’s a wild crossover, but it’s a tradition dating back all the way to 1996, when X-Men vs Street Fighter was released. As for Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, it’s an upgraded version of Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds
The mix of franchises wouldn’t be enough to carry a game, however. Thankfully, it’s also an excellent fighting game benefitting from decades of Capcom’s experience in the genre. It uses a tag-team system with three characters per side, opening a great combo potential for the dedicated players. There are 50 characters on the roster, and you can make mixed-franchise teams easily.
X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse
Another gem lost to time. X-Men: Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse, released in 2005 was a co-op-oriented action RPG starring a whole bunch of famous mutants, both X-Men and Brotherhood, joining forces against the growing forces of Apocalypse. The plot visits a satisfying variety of locations, including Genosha and Savage Land, with central hubs for team management and conversations.
From the hub you could take a four-character team on a mission, which usually involved a lot of superpowered combat and quite a bit of exploration, especially if you wanted to find all the secrets, like Danger Room scenarios or sometimes even hidden characters. While it was perfectly fine in single-player, it shined in full four-player co-op, especially if you wanted to use power combos.
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (series)
|Genre:||Action & Shooter|
While X-Men Legends 2 was a strictly mutant-driven affair, such limitations don’t apply to the Marvel: Ultimate Alliance series. Instead, the games feature rosters drawn from various super-groups, including, of course, X-Men, Avengers, and in the case of Ultimate Alliance 3, also Guardians of the Galaxy. Independent heroes like Blade or Daredevil also had a strong presence.
In terms of gameplay the Ultimate Alliance games are very similar to X-Men Legends: co-op oriented top-down dungeon crawlers with RPG elements. While the first two games in the series are delisted and rather hard to get, the third is still available, as long as you have a Nintendo Switch, which hold exclusivity for the title for the time being.
What if Diablo, but Marvel? Marvel Heroes, before its unfortunate and unfair demise, what the answer to this question. Except where Diablo has a few champions, Marvel heroes at the end of its lifespan had over sixty characters, with their own skill and ability trees, and unique mechanics, like Wolverine’s rage or Iron Fist’s martial arts stances. There was a lot of personality in this game.
On top of that, there was, of course, a metric ton of loot, providing stat bonuses and extra ranks in abilities. MH was also a fairly relaxed MMO, with several large maps swarming with enemies where all the players on the instance could fight together. There were also story-focused solo-missions starting small in New York and reaching all the way up to Asgard. It was a fun comic book romp.
This concludes our list of the best Marvel-themed games out there…including those that truly are out, living only in memory. Hopefully, you’ve put a few of them on your radar, and will keep an eye for new releases, like the Insomniac games we were promised!