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Why Spider-Man Is The Best Superhero for a Video Game

VO: Riccardo Tucci WRITTEN BY: Jarett Burke
Spider-Man on PS4 is undoubtedly a fantastic game, and in our minds it proves that the Wall Crawler is the superhero best suited for a video games. Yes Batman is great and the Arkham games are amazing, but a lot of concessions need to be made to make Batman work. Because of Spider-Man's superpowers, he needs no such compromise.

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Why Spider-Man is the Best Video Game Superhero

Let’s face it, superhero video games haven’t exactly been shining beacons of playability and excitement until fairly recently, and even that’s debatable based on your superhero preference. In the last few years we’ve been gifted with a great Batman series from Rocksteady Studios, but who can forget the “Superman 64s” and “Aquaman: Battle For Atlantises” of the world? Seriously, we’d like to know as both those titles still haunt us to this very day! Heck, even the Dark Knight himself had a rough run in the video game world up until the Mid-2000s with such flops as “Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker” and “Batman: Dark Tomorrow.” As such, the title of Best Video Game Superhero remained very much open for debate. If it were based on availability and marketplace saturation, Batman would currently take home the crown, and if it were based on sheer popularity of the brand alone perhaps “Lego Marvel Super Heroes” would be king? But, for our top spot, we’re looking for something deeper: what superhero best transitions to video games – not only in terms of their character, but also in terms of their abilities and how such abilities translate to gameplay and overall fun factor. In our book, there’s no better example than Spider-Man, as both his character and superpowers are unique compared to other heroes (he’s a spider for God’s sake!) and just so happen to translate incredibly well to video games.

We know that Spidey has had a mixed reception in gaming over the last few decades and that there have been some poorer experiences with “The Amazing Spider-Man” games feeling like little more than cash-grab to coincide with the movies and “Spider-Man 3” failing to advance the thrills of its predecessor; but, with the impending release of “Marvel’s Spider-Man” on PS4, fans of the Web Slinger are hopeful that Insomniac Games have created the best Spider-Man game yet. And, early previews suggest just that, implying that Batman’s Arkham Series has some serious competition on its hands. So, with a new Spider-Man game hot on our heels, let’s take a look at what makes Spidey so perfectly suited for video games.

First off, there’s Spider-Man’s personality, which is tailor made for games. His sense of humor helps provide balance to the (sometimes) endless in-game action of superhero games, contrasting lighter moments with the more violent, chaotic ones and giving us a break from the fighting to catch our breath. If Spidey were some brooding, ultra-serious character, than constantly fighting against the forces of evil would feel more like a grind than the enjoyable, entertaining romp it’s meant to be. Spider-Man’s cheeky humor and wisecracking personality makes for some much-needed comic relief in the battle of Good vs. Evil, and we as gamers appreciate it as we don’t want another replay of the super-serious Arkham Series. Also, Spidey’s “Average Joe” demeanor isn’t lost when in his superhero form, as he never fully transitions away from Peter Parker even in the red-and-blue suit, and that makes him infinitely more relatable to us than, say, a Batman or Superman. It’s this everyday quality that makes his adventures feel that much more personal, as we ourselves can imagine what it’s like to chase our dream girl or fend off bullies even if we can’t know what’s it’s like to hold superpowers. And, to top it all off, Spider-Man’s a bit of a nerd as well... And although we’re not saying all gamers are nerds, we can certainly admit that we hold some rather nerdy tendencies and relate well to other, ahem!, nerds. So, the similarities between Spider-Man and gamers help bond the two together and make the games that much more engaging (but also disappointing when they fail to live up to our hopes).

The Spider-Man superhero character also transitions well to games and is highly relatable to gamers too. Firstly, there’s an element of escapism when Peter Parker switches to Spider-Man, and there’s a similar feeling of escapism when we fire up our consoles. As Spider-Man, Parker temporarily flees his everyday trails as a slightly nerdy, not-too-popular youngster, escaping his real-life circumstances and becoming something more, something greater in the process. As gamers, we think we can relate! Additionally, both Parker and Spider-Man are the underdog as well, and that also serves to bind us to his side, as there’s just something infinitely admirable and inspiring about the underdog – about someone who smashes boundaries and obstacles on route to winning against all odds. It’s the kind of story that’s perfectly suited for gaming, as challenges are an integral part of great games. Otherwise, why play? Where would the challenge come from in a game where we are expected to win every battle we undertake or are so overpowered that the game just feels lifeless at times (we’re looking at you Arkham Series!). Just think of some of the epic villains in Spider-Man lore with Doc Ock, the Green Goblin and Venom; they are serious challenges to Spidey, so there’s no way we can’t route for him to win against more powerful bad guys. Without a great challenge, Spider-Man could not achieve greatness – and the same holds for games as well.

Finally, Spider-Man’s superpowers and abilities are the icing on the cake when it comes to mechanics that are perfectly suited to video games. Let’s take swinging for instance – a mechanic that spans back to 1982’s “Pitfall” for God’s sake! It’s an action that is tailor made for games, and luckily it’s Spidey’s main mode of transportation and makes him endlessly acrobatic in combat, bringing both his travels and fights to life with a wicked sense of style and excitement. His webbing ability offers much more than just standard ground attacks, giving him the aerial ability akin to other superheroes but without all the invincibility and over-bearing strength. In fact, Spider-Man’s vulnerability is actually a strength in the video game world as, already mentioned, where’s the challenge in being expected to win every battle? Since Spidey is always outgunned, he must rely on strategy and stealth to upend his foes; and, as a gamer, that equates to not only a serious challenge but vast levels of excitement as well because we have to use our brains. Like Spidey, we have to rely on our intellect to defeat overpowering foes like Doc Ock and Venom, using creativity as an offensive strategy in deposing of baddies. And, don’t forget his Spidey Senses in terms of being another ability perfectly suited to gaming, as it adds another strategic layer to approaching battle, scanning the environment for clues, tips and tricks to get the upper hand on his foes.

Whether the new “Marvel’s Spider-Man” game is a smash-hit or a mega-flop, we stand by our pick of Spider-Man as the Best Video Game Superhero. He’s just too unique a character in the often-overcrowded superhero universe (filled with overpowered hulks and endlessly-charismatic hunks) to overlook. His personality and character are somthing that gamers can easily relate to, and his superpowers are a perfect fit within video game environments. We’re just looking for the perfect game to show off all his talents. Here’s hoping it’s Insomniac’s upcoming release!

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