Superheroes. They’re everywhere. The success of superhero films in the last few years has brought the spandex-clad do-gooders out of the basement and into popular culture. We’ve seen them destroy alien invasions, save people from burning buildings and shrink to a size so small that it can only be understood by theoretical science.
But, you know what’s even better than watching your favorite superheroes save the world in eye-popping 3D?
Playing as your favorite superheroes. That’s right. Suiting up as your favorite character and plowing through a host of bad guys in a video game is an extremely fun experience, if it’s a good game. And there have been a LOT of bad superhero games (I’m looking at you, Catwoman!).
But luckily, there have also been a lot of good ones. So without further ado, here are the best superhero video games of all time (in no particular order).
The Arkham Series (Arkham Asylum, Arkham City, Arkham Origins, Arkham Knight)
No list of great superhero games is complete without a mention of The Arkham series. Developers Rocksteady absolutely nailed the experience of playing as the Dark Knight. With silky-smooth combat, sprawling open-worlds and truly fantastic writing, The Arkham games are a shining beacon to what is possible with superhero games.
As Batman, you swoop over a brooding Gotham, using your grappling hook to travel vast distances without ever touching the ground. In predator mode, you embody the stealth aspects of Batman, stalking your prey as you wait for the right time to descend from the heavens and land a concussive blow to take them out. You use a wide array of gadgets, drive vehicles and even solve cases, making this an absolute dream come true for Batman fans.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 1 and 2
The Ultimate Alliance games are a great representation of what makes the Marvel universe so much fun – witty dialogue, colorful characters and wanton mayhem. Activision took the formula that made X-Men: Legends such a fun team-based action game and refined it with the Ultimate Alliance series. With bigger bosses, more characters and fantastic setpieces, players could finally enjoy the experience of creating their own superhero teams. Mine had Deadpool, Storm, Thor and Wolverine. Which heroes did you pick?
Before the Deadpool movie sliced and diced its way to box-office history, the merc with a mouth had a great video game. Deadpool stayed true to the character’s eccentricities, introducing weird, vulgar humor and brutal violence. And through it all, players got to enjoy Deadpool quipping. Kill a horde of bad guys? Quip. See a hot girl? Quip. Oh, Deadpool.
Lego Marvel Super Heroes
The Lego games have taken several incredibly popular franchises and spun them into enjoyable action adventures. Lego Marvel Super Heroes continued this wonderful tradition by turning your favorite superheroes into adorable brick characters and having them journey through a fun storyline that includes lot of self-referential humor and puns. Everyone loves puns.
If you’re not sold on the game yet, Dr. Doom has a device that he’s going to use to destroy the world as we know it. And he calls it the “Doom Ray of Doom”.
Captain America and The Avengers
In 1991, The First Avenger and his buddies made their way onto the NES for an old-school, Double-Dragon style brawler. And the results were fantastic. The game featured four playable characters – Captain America, Iron Man, Vision and Hawkeye. Each character had unique moves and special attacks. The plot was pretty standard, as you’d expect from a beat-em-up, but that didn’t take away from the enjoyment of the game. Mowing down screen after screen of bad guys never got boring, especially when you had boss fights with some of Marvel’s best villains – The Juggernaut, Ultron and The Mandarin, among others.
In addition, the game featured special appearances by other Avengers like Namor, Wasp and Quicksilver. These characters appeared for a limited when you collected some powerups and helped you rain down even more misery on your enemies.
Injustice: Gods Among Us
Injustice finally answered a question that every comic book fan had pondered “Who would win if The Joker fought Superman?” The answer? Whoever is better at back dashing and down-forward-punch. Unless you don’t know how to play, in which case the answer is “whoever mashes buttons quicker”.
The plot of Injustice is just an excuse to get all of your favorite heroes and villains on a level playing field where they can beat the ever living crap out of each other. And that’s a great thing. Designed by the twisted geniuses behind the Mortal Kombat series, Injustice features fantastic combat, great character designs and several special moves that will make you gape in awe. Superman punches people through what looks like a thousand levels of walls and Wonder Woman uses her lasso to hold the opponent in place while she (and a friendly Amazon warrior) deliver the smack down. Good times.
The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction
Every comic book fan has had moments where they wished they could morph into The Hulk and rampage through the streets. The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction allowed players to do precisely this. With smooth controls and an open-world at your disposal, you can jump, punch, smash and stomp your enemies into a fine pulp. This game really made you feel the power of The Hulk, letting you fling cars effortlessly at enemies, climb massive buildings with ease, and jump to create the superhero landing to beat all superhero landings.
The Marvel vs. Capcom Series
Although Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 might be the series’ finest hour, it’s unfair to exclude any of the games from this series, because they’re all fun. This is one of the most colorful and fun fighting games you can get your hands on. With a roster featuring several mainstays (and other lesser known, but equally interesting characters) from the Marvel and Capcom universes, there’s a tremendous wealth of content to be explored here. Each character has screen-filling special and super moves, and team matches allow you to tag in your partner at the end of a combo to deal massive, fight-ending amounts of damage.
This is also the fighting game that casual players usually play without looking at the screen. Because they’re pressing all the buttons. ALL. THE. BUTTONS.
Here’s the bottom line – you pick up any of the games from this list and you’re guaranteed dozens of hours of fun. So, have you got any favorite superhero games that you think we missed? Let us know!
If you name yourself ‘Zelda’ instead of ‘Link’ in ‘The Legend Of Zelda’, you will be able to skip the first quest entirely.