Moving into the new millennium, we now get into more familiar gaming territory. Spider-Man gets an early spike in popularity thanks to another Hollywood blockbuster. Spider-Man: The Movie, and its sequel Spider-Man 2: The Game, received positive reviews, mostly due to the nonlinear free-roaming through the skyscrapers of Manhattan. But by the third movie tie-in, the formula got redundant, and many glitches showed the lack of heart in the development. Just before the current generation consoles made their debuts, Ultimate Spider-Man was given a place in the gaming world. The game was decent, but the real mid-decade gem was Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. However, despite a prominent image on the box art, Spidey was but one of many playable characters, thus I can't sincerely give him personal credit on this one.
You might think the Dark Knight was non-existent during the first half of the past decade, but a handful of games were produced. Most were based on the television animated series and catered to the younger audience. The only game based off the comics was Batman: Dark Tomorrow, but with poor gameplay, horrible camera control, and repetitive missions, it received one of the lowest aggregated scores in the history of video game reviews.
LEGO, with its lighthearted take on action series, gave Batman and the rest of Gotham City's motley heroes and villains a softer touch with LEGO Batman: The Videogame in 2008. One year later, we were blessed with the pinnacle of superhero video games, thanks to the amazing efforts of developer Rocksteady. Batman: Arkham Asylum, and more recently Arkham City have received countless accolades, being nearly flawless in every aspect. They're not only the best superhero games ever made, but rank right up there as the all time best games of any genre.
Developer Beenox tried valiantly to keep the web-slinger in the same field as the Arkham games, first with Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions in 2010, then a year later with Spider-Man: Edge of Time. They were generally good games, with some tight combat and good use of abilities, but they eventually became repetitive and tedious. The most recent Beenox offering, The Amazing Spider-Man (loosely based on this past summer's movie), was also a decent entry that lacked gusto. It had a large open world to explore, but it posed little difficulty for the player and again became repetitive.
There isn't an exclusive game for either superhero in the foreseeable future, so I am left to tally up the past three decades and issue my verdict. Both Batman and Spider-Man have graced the video game scene many times over, with titles we hold up proudly, and others that make us question our loyalty to the characters.
In an alternate showdown, the full body of work might keep the score close. But in this case, one developer has catapulted their hero to victory. Rocksteady did incredible justice with their Batman: Arkham games, and turned one the most popular comic book characters of all time into one of the most popular video game characters of all time. It's possible that Spider-Man could enjoy the same success with a stalwart and creative development studio, but until then, Batman will reign supreme.
Date: September 6, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central. This week's is also purely a work of fiction*