Comic book movies have become the new pop culture fad since the end of the last decade. There were comic book movies before the like of Iron Man and The Dark Knight, but none were particularly stellar until Spider-Man 2, and even then they weren't very consistent. Comic book heroes and villain's big cross over territory was generally video games, with hundreds of title spanning 8 console generations. The bar for what a "good" comic book game is was consistently raised over the year, and even though they aren't as popular as they used to be, these comic book games will stand the test of time.
Disclaimer: Multiple entries in the same series will not be added. If a Batman Arkham game is on the list, then the best in the series will be represented only.
2013's Deadpool game was a labor of love for everyone involved. High Moon's Sean Miller is a big fan of the character and always wanted to make a game based on the him, but didn't want to do it without the right elements in place. Those elements being Deadpool writer Daniel Way and voice actor Nolan North, who plays the character in pretty much every other video game staring the Merc with a Mouth. The game itself is a rather generic hack and slash, but there's a palpable appreciation for the source material in every inch of the title. It's funny and frantic and had a lot of sequel potential, but tepid sales (by Activision standards) really put the brakes to that. Also, the Marvel's publishing agreement with the company ran up without being renewed, causing it and other games to be removed from digital marketplaces. It's since been restored to Steam, but it's hard to sell a game that isn't on the shelf.
9. X-Men Origins: Wolverine
The Hugh Jackman Effect is probably the only factor in the anomaly that makes Wolverine movies keep happening. The Wolverine was an awkward movie that was mostly forgettable, but still all around better than the movie before it, X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Oddly enough, the silver lining of that travesty of a movie was the tie in game it produced. A straight forward hack n slash ala God of War, putting you in the shoes of a formative Wolverine was great fun. It was also extremely violent and full of naughty language, which was actually perfect for the character. It also elaborated on some of the movies plot points, allowing a bit more story to leak in here and there, as well as provide big set piece moments that the movie never achieved, like dismembering a Sentinel prototype as its being launched into the atmosphere.
8. Ragnarok Online
This MMO, based on the Korean manhwa of the same name, was a slow burning cult classic for pretty much the entirety of the 2000's. The game started out subscription based at launch, but is now entirely free to play, as is the trend for MMO's nowadays. What always made this MMO so unique though, outside of its charming art design, was its job system. Sort of like the Job system in Final Fantasy games, characters follow a path that dictates their combat roles and stat progressions from an early level. All characters must start as a Novice, though, and earn the opportunity to start these paths. The classes ranged from typical thief and warrior archetypes to a sort of entrepreneurial class, who could make shops and sell the things they find in the wilderness in towns.
7. Injustice: Gods Among Us
This unlikely fighting game came after a rousing revival of NetherRealm's Mortal Kombat franchise in 2011 and was built of the brutal brawlers framework. The DC influence wasn't just for show, though. This time, these characters felt like they belonged in the game, unlike the haphazard Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe from years before it. It aligned the Mortal Kombat-style gameplay with more 2D fighting game tropes, making it easier for a Street Fighter player to cross over to it. Injustice also took very interesting risks in order to add some personality to the combat, with things like throwable stage objects and hero powers. Injustice set the stage for Mortal Kombat X, probably the best Mortal Kombat game ever, which only makes the prospect of an Injustice 2 sound more and more enticing.
6. X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse
The isometric, Ultima/Baldur's Gate style RPG is one of the most iterated upon styles of games in the industry. It was only a matter of time that an ensemble cast like the X-Men would be featured in a game like it. The original X-Men Legends was good, but Legends II was better in almost everyway. Not only was the story a bit darker and more involved, the necessity of the Brotherhood of Mutants and the X-Men teaming together against Apocalypse demanded really interesting party compositions that saw unique interactions with characters and their powers really for the first time outside of the comic books themselves. Fun, four player couch co-op games don't really exist anymore, but Legends II was one of the best in of the PS2 era.
5. Ultimate Spider-Man
Spider-Man 2 is usually considered the high bar for Spider-Man games, but in 2005 a worthy challenger to that throne arose in the form of Ultimate Spider-Man. It took the things that made the movie game so fun - the weightless web-swinging, that dynamic quests, etc. - and added a (then) modern comic book flair to it all. Spidey would also share screen time with his nemesis, Venom, putting players in control of the brutish symbiote and telling and interesting story that showed the creature in a more relatable light. He was still completely heinous - requiring you to eat innocent people and criminals alike in order to stay alive - but we never played a game that brought us so intimately into Eddie Brock's world like this one.
4. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game
Scott Pilgrim: The Game is more is, at its core, a River City Ransom clone. Bryan Lee O'Malley's comic books twist the old formula into a the colorful potpourri of pop culture weirdness that would be the source of the frenetic movie of the same name. The game makes a lot of great inside jokes and references to other games like Mega Man, Guitar Hero, and Mario, and is as celebratory of video games as the graphic novels were about comics. The side scrolling beat em up formula was tweaked in interesting ways thanks to the various RPG elements sprinkled into the mix.
3. Telltale's The Walking Dead
The recent revival of the story based, action-absent adventure game owes its existence to the success of the first season of Telltale's The Walking Dead. Bringing us into an alternate story in the comic book universe of TWD allowed us to experience a story with the same edge and brutality of the books, but with some of the charm and characterizations of the TV show. The empathetic connection between newly orphaned Clementine and convicted killer/college professor Lee is one of the strongest, most inspiring relationships in modern games, regardless of the genre.
2. The Wolf Among Us
A controversial statement, but here it is: Telltale's The Wolf Among Us is a better game than The Walking Dead. The 80's neon noir is based on a comic book property, Fables, that has far less exposure than Robert Kirkman's classic books, but the setting and story is already more unique. Fairytale characters live among us, pretending to be normal people (if they can afford to) and trying their best to adjust to their lives as normal people. The game is prequel, taking place right after these characters we forced out of their world and into ours. As Bigby Wolf, you serve as the only face of law enforcement in neighborhood dedicated to the "Fables." Bigby has a past, though - he spent his Fable days as the Big Bad Wolf, eating pigs and chasing daughters. The journey of redemption your tasked to make while attempting to be hard nosed enough to find a serial killer terrorizing your town is a complex series of thought provoking adventure game goodness.
1. Batman: Arkham City
Whether Rocksteady's Batman trilogy of games are among the best comic book games ever isn't must of a debate. The more controversial conversation is which among them is the best. As I strongly feel that Arkham Asylum is a more cohesive experience that evokes the right amount of Metroidvainian swagger, Arkham City's robust approach to open world gaming is provocative and ultimately more rewarding. Because the world was open, you had a generally looser set of rules when it came to deciding how to solve Batman's problems. But the world was small and compact, and it changed dynamically based on story elements, which often affected those decisions directly. Many of the boss encounters were simply just bigger versions of the pattern-based memory game action game bosses usually become. The exception is the Mr. Freeze fight, who your forced to outsmart with a mixture of stealth and fisticuffs after the bigger, stronger doctor locks you in his lab, trapping you with him. There is no better comic book adventure out there than this game.
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