Few, if any, superheroes have received more video game adaptations than Spider-Man. From classic beat-em-ups like 1991’s arcade game, Spider-Man: The Video Game, to a groundbreaking 3D adventure (2000’s Spider-Man for Playstation, Dreamcast, and Nintendo 64) and numerous movie-licensed games, the web-slinger has been playable in many forms. And the gaming gods have been kind—a lot of the Spidey games have been fantastic.
Ultimate Spider-Man represents the best of the bunch so far. Utilizing story arcs of the Ultimate comic storyline, this 2005 Activision game was a much-needed upgrade to movie licensed Spider-Man 2, which introduced a revolutionary free-roam, web-slinging system to Spidey gaming lore. Unfortunately for that game, most of the thrills were gone once missions started; the best part of the game was, simply, exploring a virtual New York City.
Ultimate was an across-the-board improvement. Combat actually worked, the cell-shaded graphics made the game feel like a living comic book, and gamers got to experience a diverse array of Marvel characters, thanks to the subject material. And Venom was an unlockable character! Try not cracking a smile while terrorizing midtown-Manhattan as Spidey’s symbiote suit-wearing rival.
Ultimate Spider-Man could get bumped off its perch when Insomniac Games releases Spider-Man for the PS4 next year; early gameplay videos look slick and exciting. But until then, anybody looking to experience the total gaming package that Spider-Man has to offer need only to dust off their old PS2 or Gamecube. Or look for an emulator, but you didn’t hear that from us!