Top 10 Superhero Video Games

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Best Superhero Video Games List It was inevitable that video games and comic book superheroes - two of the most beloved hobbies of children young and old - would cross paths, and ever since the first hero or villain was adapted into pixel form, comic fans have been lining up to see these icons in action. Unfortunately, not all of the combinations have been winning one. In fact, there are likely more failures than successes. However, the tide seems to be turning. With superheroes taking over the box office, video game dominance may not be far behind. So to honor those that have yet to come, we look back at those which proved the genre could thrive in the first place. Here is our list of the Top 10 Superhero Video Games.

City of Heroes

Best Superhero Games City of Heroes Although it wasn't a direct adaptation of any specific comic book universe, or its characters, City of Heroes was one of the first games to prove that a superhero MMO was a recipe for success. Since its release in 2004 (until its unfortunate demise in 2012) both Marvel and DC have attempted to capture its success with the power of established heroes, but they simply couldn't hold a candle. Giving players the chance to craft their own hero in the fictional Paragon City, villains demanded players from around the world team up to bring them to justice. With 23 free updates, the game remains one of the best superhero games in terms of fan service, if nothing else.

X-Men (Arcade)

Best Superhero Games Xmen Arcade It's difficult to name any single superhero game the 'best ever,' but if you ask gamers over a certain age which comic book video game holds the most youthful nostalgia, most are likely to name the original X-Men arcade game chief among them. Released back in 1992, the game enjoyed a multiplayer component like few '2.5D' beat-em-ups ever had, letting 2 to 6 players control fighters onscreen at once (oh, how the times have changed...). The gameplay may be somewhat simple, with players able to move, attack, and unleash 'mutant powers,' but the overall charm and fun Konami managed to include made it a must-play for any comic book fan. It may be a product of its time (and hard to hold up these days), but its place in history is beyond debate.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Best Superhero Games Xmen Origins Wolverine Anyone familiar with X-Men Origins: Wolverine - Uncaged Edition knows that the game's success defied virtually all odds and expectations. Raven Software gets all the credit for making a diamond from the dirt - the film released alongside the game was largely panned by critics - and delivering a bloody, adult, tongue-in-cheek guilty pleasure. In other words, what many fans always hoped for from the big screen adaptations of the clawed superhero. With the new-found family-friendly success of Marvel's superhero films, the game represents what will likely be gamers' only chance to give in to Logan's darker side. The gruesome executions, finishing moves, and wounds healing in real time helped make the game a delight for movie fans, gamers, and comic book die-hards alike.

Turtles in Time

Video Game Brothers Ninja Turtles While they aren't usually lumped in with other 'superheroes,' the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were created as an amalgamation of several costumed comic heroes, so they certainly apply. Fans of the animated TV series from the 1980s were treated to an arcade game incarnation courtesy of Konami in 1989, but it was the sequel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time that perfected the formula. Up to 4 players at once (in the arcade version) could fight as their favorite hero, beating the Foot Clan and their leaders into a pulp as they worked their way from side to side. Turtles in Time refined every aspect of the original, and is one of the best beat-em-ups arcades ever witnessed.

Freedom Force

Best Superhero Games Freedom Force Superhero video games aren't what come to mind when someone mentions Irrational Games, a studio most well-known for System Shock 2 and its spiritual successor BioShock. But back in 2002 - a full 2 years before City of Heroes took action-based superhero gameplay online - Irrational had success of their own with Freedom Force, letting players control an entire squad of superheroes in the world of Patriot City. The core gameplay was sound enough, but it was the clear love for the Golden Age of comic books that made Freedom Force a hit with comic fans. With original heroes like the patriotic Minuteman, and villains like Nuclear Winter and Time Master, the artists and writers captured something few video game adaptations attempt: the spirit of comic heroes, not just the action.

Ultimate Spider-Man

Best Superhero Games Ultimate Spiderman In the realm of Spider-Man video games, there is no question that Treyarch's work on the movie tie-in game for Spider-Man 2 receives the most accepted praise - and with good reason. In many ways, it set the stage for what most superhero games would be: a freely explorable, expansive open world filled with people in need. But in our minds, that success makes their work on Ultimate Spider-Man even more impressive. Instead of trying to reinvent or top their success, Treyach added another dimension: they would adapt not a film, but the "Ultimate Spider-Man" comic series, aimed at a younger audience with a clearer sense of humor. Add in an art style that captured the comic perfectly, and include both Spider-Man AND Venom as playable protagonists? It's every bit as polished as the movie tie-in, but with a superhero feel torn right from the comic.

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3

Best Superhero Games Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 It's true that Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 may be the most difficult to master among the games on our list, but that doesn't make it any less impressive on nearly every front. Bringing some of the most beloved characters from both Marvel Comics and Capcom's video game roster into one colossal battle, it's genuinely shocking that so many superheroes and villains could be adapted so faithfully. The game may have been the source of controversy among die-hard fighting game fans, due both to Capcom's use of locked on-disc content for microtransactions and the fact that the game is an upgraded version of Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds. Regardless of its business model, no one can argue the game's overall polish and technical precision. It's arguably one of the best fighting games of the last decade, so the fact that it includes superheroes is simply a bonus.

LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes

Best Superhero Games Lego Batman 2 Over the years, the development team at Traveller's Tales has produced some of the best licensed video games around, bringing the world of Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and both DC and Marvel Comics into the realm of LEGO. Letting players reenact some of the films' most iconic moments in toy form has proven a successful formula (to this day), but if we had to choose one, the team truly outdid themselves with LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes. Swapping corridors for an open world, and doing fan service (and justice) to the likes of Batman, Robin, Superman, Wonder Woman - you name it - resulted in not just one of the best video game focused on DC Comics, but arguably the best LEGO video game as well.

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance

Best Superhero Game Marvel Ultimate Aliance The original pitch for X-Men Legends was simple enough: it's an old-school, isometric dungeon crawler, but starring the X-Men instead of warriors and wizards. The finished game proved just as promising as its concept, and the developers at Raven Software delivered a surprise hit for every Marvel fanboy (or fangirl). A sequel would soon arrive on the PS2 and Xbox, before the team moved on to develop a next-gen successor in the form of Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. Players were once again allowed to construct a team of 4 Marvel characters of their choice, each possessing unique abilities and attacks. With over 140 comic book characters appearing from start to finish, and a wealth of unlockable fighters and costumes to keep completionists engaged, Ultimate Alliance remains one of the best superhero dungeon crawlers a Marvel fan could hope for.

Batman: Arkham City

Best Superhero Games Batman Arkham City It was a fact taken entirely for granted by video game and comic fans everywhere: there was simply no way of making a good game starring Batman or Superman. That was, until Rocksteady Studios decided to shock the world with Batman: Arkham Asylum. Following the dark knight in his fight against one of Joker's twisted traps, Asylum let players experience the thrill of being Batman for the first time. Raising the bar seemed nearly impossible, but Rocksteady surprised once again with Batman: Arkham City. The two games share much in common, ranging from their cast of villains to the third-person combat system (which was quickly adopted by nearly every competitor). Players are sure to have their favorites - the tight plot of Asylum, or the open world of City - but by writing a truly inspired Batman tale while removing restrictions, City remains a tentpole for superhero games as whole.


Best Superhero Games List Just as everyone is sure to have their favorite superheroes, so too are they likely to have their favorite superhero games - and with more on the way, even the most beloved could be challenged before long. These are the ones which we believe were impactful, refined, or inspired enough to earn their place in history, but be sure to offer up your own selections (or arguments) in the comments below. _____ Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

TAGS: Batman Arkham City, City of Heroes, LEGO Batman 2, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, X-Men Origins Wolverine, X-Men: The Arcade Game

  • redskullbeats

    CAPTAIN AMERICA AND THE AVENGERS!! the old sega arcade game that NEEDS to be in that list. i spend hours on that game as a kid. it was much better than the x-men one! 😉

  • Hanzo

    Im surprised no Lego Marvel on here with the roster size and overall rating that game received.

    • Anthony Taormina

      LEGO Marvel is great, but as the resident LEGO enthusiast I had to vouch for Batman 2 for a couple reasons. I think the writing and the humor is much sharper in LEGO Batman, and I think the gameplay is tighter in terms of using the strengths of individual heroes. It was also one of the first LEGO games to introduce the open world exploration – there’s really nothing like flying around as Superman.

      LEGO Marvel basically builds off LEGO Batman’s lead, and ultimately it will come down to Marvel vs. DC allegiances, but as a superhero game, and a LEGO game, I think Batman 2 is better.

      • hanzo

        Well on the same coin wouldnt you say that Marvel Vs Capcom 2 is better than 3? I would. 2 was way more fun in my opinion. But i also enjoyed the nostalgic fighting games more.

      • Some Guy

        I’m gonna have to disagree. LEGO Batman 2 is not that great a game. Marvel had a lot more variety in the story, I got really tired of just playing as Batman and Robin for every stage except the last couple. Marvel had you switching heroes just about every level. I also think the writing in Marvel was a lot better, yes it was cool to have Clancy Brown as Luthor again, but the story in Marvel was just so much bigger and more interesting. Not to mention funnier. Marvel also had side missions, which added a lot more to the post-game.

        And this doesn’t even touch on the controls. Batman 2 had godawful flight controls. Marvel’s were still bad, but Batman 2 was infinitely worse. Add to that the lack of a minimap, and the overworld in Batman 2 is basically unplayable. Then there’s the fact that when two people are playing, both would freeze while one was changing characters, or when one character had just gotten a gold brick. It’s really a terrible system. Marvel was much more polished as a game, and was just a more enjoyable experience.

  • Griff

    I think that Lego Marvel was better than Lego Batman 2.

  • COREY_1993

    1. Marvel vs Capcom 3
    2. Arkham games
    3. Ultimate Spiderman.

    if you wanna count original superhero games then infamous series (2 being the best) and prototype are great games. still need to play prototype 2

  • boogoo

    Man, I sunk soooo many hours into Marvel Ultimate Alliance. Time well spent.

    • Andrew Dyce

      I honestly have a hard time thinking of a better ‘sleepover game’ than those Marvel games. Sooooo many hours into X-Men Legends!

      • boogoo

        Totally! They were my go-to games whenever friends were over.

  • Jason

    I still pull out my Gamecube and play Ultimate Spider-man.

    • Andrew Dyce

      Man. The feeling of flying down streets and over rooftops in Queens is still one of my favourite gaming experiences. Nostalgia or game design, doesn’t matter to me.

  • jwalka

    hulk ultimate destruction imo was a very solid hulk game. it had difficulty spike issues but overall a neat package for hulk fans :3

    i’m glad you listen ultimate spidey and for once (in overall history) didn’t have spidey 2 there =.= dont get me wrong the game was fun, but it’s more or less ultimate spidey with a different art style and deeper combat (iirc).

    wolverine was a good game, but got so repetitive a few hours in =.= i was so bored by the time they introduced the stealth guys that i didn’t care if i finished the game or not (not usually the case since i like to finish what i start (that’s what she said)).

  • Batman

    The Arkham series is seriously overrated.

    • Joe

      Can’t disagree more. I think Origins (though I’m only 1/2 way though is lacking a lot). Asylum was ground breaking and both Asylum and City had fantastic main and side story lines. And they took some very bold steps with City which I think paid off for them. I think that the action in the games is very similar game after game which they’ve been criticized for but I’m in it for the overall experience.

      • Some Guy

        Yeah, Origins kind of sucks, but that was because it was made by a different studio than Asylum and City. I don’t count Origins as a true Arkham game.

  • blazex

    man wat about saints row IV!!!

    • Beastinrocks

      And the superhero in that game is!??!

      • Joe

        Whoever your character is :) I think SR4 makes an excellent template for a future Superman/Thor/Green Lantern/Ironman game because all the things previous games of that nature were lacking this game give potential for.

  • flatstanly

    missed out on some truly great super hero games: xmen legends (a better version of marvel ultimate alliance), marvel vs capcom 2 (the superior mvc title), marvel heroes, injustice: gods among us, and everyone’s favorite, and maybe spiderman and xmen in arcade’s revenge

  • McGygas

    No Inustice? Pffff

  • Jacothedog

    DC Universe Online is very similar to City of Heroes, where you create your own hero (or villain), with the only difference being the interaction during missions of actual DC heroes.

    It is DEFINITELY played by hardcore gamers. I was surprised to not see it on this list.

  • matt

    Saints row 4 while not really a superhero game really sets a standard for gameplay in terms of super powers and being able to interact with the enviroment, if they did saints row gameplay with a lego marvel/DC set up and roster it would be bliss

  • Dat Chum

    Well my opinion is Mortal kombat x should have been here I mean really it has all most every super hero and cool game.