Ultimate Spider-Man came out in the first year of the Nintendo DS, using the game's touchscreen to add a little bit of pizazz to the game's frequent Venom fights. There's even a multiplayer mode, in which players can have head-to-head fights in an arena against other DS-owning, Spider-Man-loving pals.
Developed by Beenox (who also made Shattered Dimensions and Edge of Time), this 'Ultimate Edition' is a little bit of an odd one. The Amazing Spider-Man game that came out on the Wii took away the free-roaming, open-world environment that the console versions had, but the Wii U more closely resembles those versions than it does the Wii game. Also, now Spider-Man can use Bullet Time!
Another side-scrolling beat-'em-up Spider-Man game, Maximum Carnage is the predecessor of Venom/Spider-Man: Separation Anxiety that takes its cues from games like Double Dragon. Its cutscenes, which are presented in comicbook style, are often directly taken from the comics they were based on, which meant a lot of tiny, pixel-wide text to read on a CRT screen.
However, the game is generally appreciated as an all-round pretty good SNES game, even making it onto IGN's Top 100 SNES Games Of All Time list at #85 in 2021.
Shattered Dimensions is a bit of a diamond in the rough when it comes to Spider-Man games. Inspiring the comicbook that would eventually become Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the story deals with multi-verse Spiders-Men who team up to stop a whole horde of supervillains, including some multi-verse versions of familiar faces like Doc Ock, Hobgoblin, and Hammerhead.
While the DS version is a relatively limited side-scrolling brawler, the Wii version is more ambitious: A third-person action-adventure game with four characters to choose from, each one with different abilities. Regular Spider-Man has web-slinging and punching (controlled by the Wiimote and Nunchuk, of course); Noir Spider-Man is stealthy; Ultimate Spider-Man has increased strength thanks to the symbiote suit; and 2099 Spider-Man can slow down time itself.
Spider-Man might have been a popular super hero for decades, but the character's popularity shot into the stratosphere with the release of Sam Raimi's 2002 movie and thankfully the tie-in game wasn't a bad one.
That's not to say it was perfect. Spider-Man's compartmentalised levels, a dodgy camera, an overall short length, and comparatively primitive web-slinging mechanic (which had Spidey casting webs into the thin air above him, regardless of whether there was anything for them to stick to) meant there were plenty of improvements to be made, but it captured enough of the spirit of the character — and the hit mainstream movie — to feel like much more than a phoned-in licensed game.
Throw in Bruce Campbell's comic relief narration and you've got a solid tie-in that laid the foundation for a better sequel — a game that turned out to be one of the best super hero games ever made.
This pre-Maguire era entry in the Spider-Man catalogue never released in Europe, unfortunately. Developed by Neversoft, this was ported to N64 by Edge of Reality, the same team that brought Tony Hawk's Pro Skater games to Nintendo systems. Indeed, this runs on the Tony Hawk's engine.
Neversoft's Spider-Man stood as probably the best Spider-Man game going back in 2000 — it certainly did more than cram the character into a 2D side-scroller, at least. Serving up a colourful, characterful 3D game, the tech advancements of the coming PS2/GameCube generation would expand the webslinger's horizons, but this was serviceable in its day.
Sandwiched in between Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3, Treyarch eschewed the Raimiverse and went to the Ultimate Spider-Man comics for inspiration for this 2005 entry. It takes the open-world element from the previous game and layers comic book shading with thick black outlines for a great-looking and satisfying, if samey, Spidey experience.
You get to control Venom here, too, which makes for a nice change. If you're more into the comic book visuals or a younger, snappier version of the character than Tobey Maguire's movie take on Peter Parker, this is probably the best example of web-slinging you'll find on a Nintendo platform.
Spider-Man 2 took the basic premise of Treyarch's first Spider-Man movie game and fixed practically everything that was wrong with it. Spidey no longer shot webs into the clouds and magically traversed the sky — each web shot connected to a point on a building in a properly open-world New York, and for the first time swinging around the city just felt right.
The inimitable Bruce Campbell returned for comical narrator duties, and all the leads from the film provide their characters' voices with varying levels of enthusiasm/success. If we're honest, we've always had a soft spot for Maguire's delivery, although some people find it flat.
Regardless of its flaws, the success of that core web-swinging mechanic and the satfistfaction derived from simply swinging around the city helped gloss over the bog-standard and repetitive fetch quest gameplay and delivered the finest example of a Spider-Man game available on a Nintendo platform. In fact, there's an argument to be made that this game's webslinging wasn't bettered until Insomniac's PS4 entry in the Spider-Man canon a whopping 14 years later, and it still holds up today.
Wow, that was a lot of Spider-Men! Let us know your thoughts on your favourite Spider-Men below. Also give us a shout if — perish the thought — we missed one. The Spiderverse is infinite so it's possible!