While the quality of the superhero genre continues to improve, not every superhero video game has been good. Here's our list of top 10 worst superhero video games.
Thanks to the recent success of both Marvel and DC Comics, superheroes continue to grow in popularity across all forms of entertainment. From movies and television shows, to mobile and console video games, it seems the industry is only expanding. But it’s good to remember that superhero video games have been around a while, and not all of them experienced the same success as today’s titles.
As we look back through the last couple of decades, there are a handful of superhero games that stand out among the rest as not only some of the worst superhero titles ever, but some of the worst games entirely. These are games that experienced such awful bugs, gameplay mechanics, or other issues that they cast a dark shadow on both the superhero and video game industries.
While the superhero genre continues to improve, sometimes it’s fun to go back and remember just how far we’ve come. Here are Game Rant’s top 10 worst superhero video games.
With 2004’s Catwoman movie bombing horribly in theaters, garnering a measly nine percent on Rotten Tomatoes, it comes as no surprise that the video game that launched alongside it is also terrible. Catwoman is riddled with bugs and glitches that constantly frustrate gamers to no end, and the graphics look like they came from the early days of the original PlayStation.
However, those failings don’t even come close to the game’s serious camera problem. For some reason, Electronic Arts thought it was a good idea to stick with a fixed camera throughout the game, making it impossible for gamers to control their angle of view. This oversight keeps players from easily progressing through levels, as it’s often hard to tell where to go or what to do with the camera stuck facing a certain way.
9 The Incredible Hulk: The Pantheon Saga
It seems like a game built around the Incredible Hulk would have little trouble offering a smooth, fun gameplay experience, even in the days of the PS1. But that is not the case with The Incredible Hulk: The Pantheon Saga. The result of all that time spent in development was a game that felt incomplete, like the developers forgot about the title and only remembered the night before it was due.
The story is worthless and the gameplay is comical, with the Hulk’s actions sometimes not registering properly or missing their mark. Additionally, the sound quality is atrocious, with audio clips that sound like they were re-recorded from an old tape player.
8 Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage
There are some situations where playing a game is an almost painful experience. Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage is a prime example. While a seemingly fantastic idea, with a character desperately in need of a video game, the execution is frustrating to the point that there’s little doubt many Super Nintendo controllers were thrown while this game was played.
From the shoddy graphics to the boring gameplay, Maximum Carnage doesn’t offer anything worth experiencing. Add to that the frustrating control system, where players were forced to press buttons at the exact right moment or risk missing a simple punch on a bad guy, and the end result is a game that fails to live up to the comic it’s based on. Instead, this is one more reminder that good ideas don’t always translate well into great video games.
7 The Uncanny X-Men
While the NES is the home to many of the world’s best games, including the Super Mario Bros. series and The Legend of Zelda, it was also a console riddled with numerous low-quality titles, including a few that found their way to this list. The Uncanny X-Men was one such game.
The Uncanny X-Men feels very much like a shooter, and seems to even be built on the premise that players should use projectiles as weapons. So playing as Wolverine, one of the most popular characters in the comic world even when the game released, is a pointless venture in frustration. Even when players got close enough to attack an enemy, they are rarely able to do so because of the game’s faulty mechanics. In the end, players are forced to use only a couple characters, and spend the entire time using the same fighting methods to move through the levels. It doesn’t take long for the frustration and boredom to drive players away from the game.
After the success of NES platformers like Super Mario Bros. and Metroid, someone thought it would be a great idea to add Marvel’s Wolverine to the mix. Sadly, the final product is one that offers little to players beyond frustrating controls and levels that are comically difficult.
When it comes to most platforming classics, players have a chance against the enemies thanks to the variety of gameplay mechanics available. Mario can jump and pick up shells to throw at enemies, while Samus has a weapon she can use to take down bad guys. Wolverine, however, is stuck using his claws to defeat his enemies, who rarely give the X-Man a chance to get close enough for a single swipe. In the end, NES gamers should avoid Wolverine and stick with the tried and true platformers of the era.
5 Batman: Dark Tomorrow
Thanks to the Arkham series, the Batman franchise is once again a respected name in the video game industry. However, those who have been gaming for a while may well remember the train wreck that was Batman: Dark Tomorrow.
Like many on this list, one of the biggest flaws plaguing Batman: Dark Tomorrow is its awful camera work, with stationary cameras that make it incredibly difficult to control Batman’s actions. Additionally, the low-resolution graphics make it tough to see the Dark Knight during some of the missions, creating issues for players as they try to distinguish the character from his surroundings.
To top it all off, the end of the game is extremely cumbersome. If players don’t complete the difficult final mission, they’re forced to watch a drawn-out cut scene that ends with Batman’s death. Needless to say, it is a game that would have been better off shelved or reworked from the ground up before release.
4 Silver Surfer
Another game that makes the list thanks to its incredible difficulty is Silver Surfer. One would expect a character with superhuman strength, endurance, and senses would be able to take on nearly anything or anyone. But in the case of Silver Surfer on NES, the surfboard-riding superhero dies from a single hit, even from the likes of rubber ducks.
While the mechanics of the side-scrolling shooter are entertaining, and the music some of the best from the day, it’s just impossible to get past the difficulty issues. Sure, other games in the genre are also similarly punishing, but the fact that the Silver Surfer’s hitbox is so large means that dodging everything that could take the superhero down, from walls and floors to the aforementioned rubber ducks, makes playing this game for long stretches an adventure in disappointment.
3 Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis
Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis is one of those games that sounds like a great experience, but in execution fails in almost every respect. The game is so basic that players could probably beat it using just a couple of fingers. From the simple fighting mechanics to the empty expanse of the world, there’s very little for players to actually do in this game.
Speaking of the game’s open world, Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis is almost entirely without any detailed environment. Granted, the open world nature of the game was unique for the time, but with a background consisting mostly of boring grey walls, the underwater open-world experience quickly loses its novelty.
2 Spawn: The Eternal
Capcom, a company known for its impressive work on the Street Fighter and Mega Man series, really dropped the ball with Spawn: The Eternal. Like Catwoman, Spawn: The Eternal was plagued by a broken camera system that made it hard for players to easily navigate missions and direct their character where to go.
On top of that, Spawn: The Eternal had low-end graphics that would make players’ eyes hurt as they moved through the levels. Add to that the overly simplistic fighting and game puzzles, and players were left with a game that was too easy and gave them a headache from the poorly implemented graphics and camera angles.
1 Superman 64
If it weren’t for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, one could easily make an argument that Superman on N64 is the worst video game of all time. The game is littered with difficult, repetitive, and confusing objectives that are compounded by the poor controls and frustrating level design. Considering the plethora of challenging mechanics and game-breaking bugs, it’s a wonder this game ever made it to the public.
In today’s gaming world, if a game were released in such a broken state as Superman 64, the developer could continue working on the title and eventually release updates and patches to bring the game up to par. But in the era of the Nintendo 64, such dreams weren’t even considered. Accordingly, we now have Superman 64 as a prime example of how not to create a video game, and as one reviewer once said, “serves no purpose other than to firmly establish the bottom of the barrel.”
There are undoubtedly many more poorly executed superhero video games not included in this list. Which ones can you remember? Let us know any we missed in the comments section below.