Superhero video games have become more common since the early 90s, which saw them rise to popularity. Comic book readers have had a large pool of games to select from to play and spend some time alongside their favorite superheroes.
As in comics, so too in video games, this selection of superhero games is divided between two of the most popular publishers in the comic book industry: Marvel Comics and DC Comics. Over the last decade, both of these publishers have seen their fair share of success in the video games industry.
While DC struggles at the box office and Marvel lines up its "Phase Four" in the movie industry, there have been a fair amount of gems produced by both sides in video games. Here are 5 of the best Marvel video games, along with 5 from DC.
Note: This article reflects the writer's opinions.
5 best video games by Marvel
1) Marvel’s Spider-Man
There have been quite a large number of Spider-Man video games over the years, as he is the most recognizable face from Marvel’s lineup of heroes. However, Insomniac’s take on the character was such a faithful yet original rendition that the video game was all but lauded as the best superhero video game of all time.
Featuring the wallcrawler in Manhattan, 7 years into his activities as Spider-Man, the game told an original story, with some of Spidey’s iconic rogues from the comics. Gameplay and combat were on par with the games of the time, while swinging was some of the best ever in any Spider-Man video game.
This video game was successful enough to launch an entirely new series, with a spinoff featuring Miles Morales being released two years later and a sequel scheduled for 2023. Very recently, the original game was announced to be coming to PC, with it being a PlayStation exclusive up till this point.
2) Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy
When the Guardians of the Galaxy game was first announced, after a lackluster performance of Marvel’s Avengers, fans were not fully sure about it. However, when it was announced that the game would be a single-player focused campaign, hopes were rekindled once more.
When the game launched in October 2021, it was met with a lot of positive responses. The game delivered many things people were not even expecting, like a well-written narrative and fun, interesting characters. The game was so liked that many fans even went as far as to say that this was their canon version of the Guardians.
The gameplay lets players take control of Peter Quill (or Star-Lord), the leader of the team, while the other members act as AI companions during combat. Peter can issue commands to them and line up attacks in succession to full-on team combos. With the overarching story pulling in many characters from the comics, this game is a must for MCU fans as well.
3) X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse
X-Men Legends was the first game in the series, which told a much smaller story than its successor but laid the groundwork for many future Marvel games. Using this same top-down perspective, the sequel, X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse, took the narrative to new heights and introduced a host of playable characters.
Players may lead a group of four characters, filling the slots with a variety of X-Men to choose from, like Cyclops, Jean Grey, Wolverine, etc. Each hero had their own unique abilities based on their mutant powers and handled mostly differently. Local co-op is also available with up to four players using different controllers. The game’s story centered around the villain known as Apocalypse, infamous in the X-Men comics.
This video game, along with its predecessor, was a prelude to a much larger Marvel Universe game known as Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, which saw the story envelop a larger portion of the Marvel universe with many characters like the Avengers, Fantastic 4, and Spider-Man taking part in it.
4) Marvel vs. Capcom
In a move that no one really saw coming, Marvel, in partnership with Capcom, released X-Men vs. Street Fighter, the first game in this series, in 1996 for the arcade. Thriving off the success of the X-Men animated TV series, this video game started off a series that saw much popularity in the years to come.
A 2D fighting game featuring characters from the Capcom and Marvel universes was seemingly the right move. In the following years, Marvel Superheroes vs. Street Fighter was released, which included superheroes from all across Marvel, and finally, the Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Superheroes. The latter started incorporating Capcom characters aside from only Street Fighter.
Since then, Marvel vs. Capcom has seen four new releases, with the latest being Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, which launched in 2017. This was the first game in the series to include a cinematic story mode and the Infinity Stones (due to their popularity among Marvel fans at the time).
5) LEGO Marvel Super Heroes
As LEGO seemingly has the right to license any and all franchises, Lego Marvel Super Heroes first launched in 2013 as a Lego-themed game set in the Marvel Universe. Telling an original story, players can take control of 180 characters from the Marvel Universe, each with their own special gameplay mechanics.
The first frame in the series saw Galactus as the main villain, with Nick Fury enlisting the help of different heroes from across the Marvel Universe to defeat the oncoming threat. The game was a major success, enough to spur a spinoff known as Lego Marvel’s Avengers, predominantly set in the MCU.
A sequel was released in 2017, titled Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2, which saw superheroes from different timelines and realities join forces to defeat Kang the Conqueror. This opened up opportunities to incorporate the Spider-verse as well as alternate versions of certain characters such as the Hulk and Captain America.
5 best video games by DC
1) Batman Arkham Series
Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham Asylum set the bar for modern superhero video games with a new outing for the caped crusader. This saw DC’s most famous vigilante take the stage in 2009 and deliver one of the best games of the year. With this massive success, Rocksteady went hard to work for this entire series they had planned.
This was followed by the release of Batman: Arkham City, which let players into a larger sandbox of a city overrun by inmates, and then finally with Arkham Knight, which finally saw players be able to roam the streets of Gotham City, this time with the Batmobile.
The Arkham series is best known for its intuitive combat design, which many video games try to emulate. With a simple attack and counter button, plain hand-to-hand combat was fun enough, but the game also gave players stealth encounters where they could take out armed thugs one by one with silent takedowns. Rocksteady’s tagline for the series was “Be the Batman,” which they definitely delivered on.
2) Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe
Possibly in an effort to rival the Marvel vs. Capcom fighting games, Warner Bros. put two of their franchises head-to-head with Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. Featuring characters from both realities, this video game was launched in 2008 by developer Midway Games.
Featuring an overarching story of how the two universes were crashing together, leading to the heroes and villains of both being displaced into each other’s worlds. Players could choose between 11 characters from either of the two worlds, with Shao Khan and Darkseid being the two characters they had to unlock.
While most of the characters from the MK universe retained their Fatalities, the heroes from the DC universe were given separate Brutalities to keep up the superhero charade. This fun game, seeing DC characters in a 2D fighting arena, was popular enough to launch a separate game all to itself.
3) Injustice: Gods Among Us
After the success of Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, the MK universe got a soft reboot as NetherRealm Studios took the reins. This was also followed by a DC fighting game from the same studios, taking place solely in the DC world but in an alternate timeline.
Released in 2013, Injustice: Gods Among Us told the story of what would happen if Superman were to turn into a dictator. Featuring many characters present for the MK vs. DC Universe game, this video game’s story took a dark turn pitting heroes against heroes as the world took sides between Superman’s Regime and Batman’s Insurgency.
The game had 30 characters to choose from, including Scorpion as a bonus character, hinting that the two worlds had previously crossed over. The game's success led to a sequel in 2017, titled Injustice 2, which further expanded upon the world and characters.
4) DC Universe Online
One of the most successful MMORPGs in the video game industry, DC Universe Online was first released in 2011. Since then, it has been upgraded to a PS4 and Xbox One version, as well as a port for the Nintendo Switch in 2019. The game is set in the world of DC, with players creating their own characters and with unique powers and abilities.
The larger narrative focuses on an invasion by Superman villain Brainiac, which will happen in the future, causing the deaths of the heroes and villains of the world. Players set out into the DC world after their character is created and meet various figures from the larger DC lore, including many members of the Justice League.
Since 2011 this video game has had constant updates and new content being released, with the latest one being in April 2022. With a large playerbase populating the online world, this is a game that players can get into anytime as it is free-to-play (for the main story at least) and can easily get the hang of it.
5) LEGO Batman
Since there is a Lego Marvel game, there has to be a Lego DC video game as well. The first game, known simply as Lego Batman: The Videogame, saw the adventures of Batman and Robin taking down crime in Gotham City. The game allows players to play either as part of the Dynamic Duo or as a villain in a separate Villain Campaign.
The sequels to this game further opened up the roster to other members of the DC Universe, with Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes and Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham. The second game opened up the story to allow for more playable characters from Justice League, including Superman and Wonder Woman.
The latest installment served as a spinoff for the villains of the universe, titled Lego DC Super-Villains. As one would expect from the title, players can now play as iconic super-villains like Lex Luthor and The Joker in an all-new story set in the Lego DC universe.
Q. Are you a Marvel or DC fan?
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