No matter how many pennies we toss into a water fountain, we will never become superheroes. Sure we can train ourselves to save lives in many other ways, but if you can’t do it in flashy spandex while jumping higher than skyscrapers, what’s the point? So instead, us nerds have to rely on video games to get our fix of playing out our comic book fantasies.
And to be completely honest, we’ve had it pretty damn good. The PS1 Spider-Man game, the entire Batman Arkham series and the X-Men Legends franchise are all hallmark examples of how great superhero games can be. You feel mighty and heroic but most importantly of all they are fun. None of that applies to the fifteen games listed here.
At their worst, comic book video games have awful controls, make the title character out to be a complete pushover and spit in the face of their source material with horrendous presentation. Instead of making you feel as strong as Superman or as nimble as Spider-Man, you instead feel like you just got up from the Chinese buffet and are too filled with SMG to even lift your toe.
Now while these games are awful and are best left forgotten, I’m going to unearth them from the bowels of hell and show just how bad they are. Why am I doing this? Because I hate you all AHAHAHAHAHAHA. Well no, actually it’s because this should serve as a deterrent to anyone who thought “how bad can these games actually be?” They are incredibly bad, and let me tell you why.
15. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1989)
Don’t let nostalgia fool you for this title; the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game on the NES is far from a radical time.
Despite being one of the best-selling games on the console, all those high sales figures tell you is that a whole lot of kids suffered and a whole lot of parents wasted their money. The game is unbearably difficult for a title based off a cartoon. The level where the brothers must swim underwater is regarded by players to be one of hardest in video game history, and that’s saying something considering some of the games on the console will beat you down hard.
Barely any characters from said cartoon are featured in the game, but don’t worry you get plenty of chainsaw wielding monsters and random of flying creatures that you could care less about. While the music and graphics for the game are quite good, that’s about all the good I can say.
14. Spider-Man/X-Men: Arcade’s Revenge (1992)
I could only imagine how the board meeting went for this game’s development. Spider-Man and the X-Men were by far Marvel’s biggest franchises in the 1990s and as a result they were plastered on just about everything. When you put these two together in a video game though, the results are anything but amazing or uncanny.
Tiny sprites, pathetically under-powered heroes and an insane difficulty are the main offenders in this side scrolling beat em up. While the first stage as Spider-Man is manageable, the game gets ridiculous as soon as you get to pick your character. Very few of the stages are fair and you given very little direction on what your objective is. Don’t let any speed run videos on youtube fool you into thinking this game is easy; it is one hard son of a b**ch.
13. Batman: Return of the Joker (1991)
Quick! You have to give Batman a weapon to use in a video game, what do you give him? A sword perhaps, pair him off against Ra’s Al Ghul? Or maybe you just let use his fists and feet to really stay true to the character? Well you most likely wouldn’t say “an arm cannon.” But that’s exactly what the folks at Sunsoft gave the Dark Knight in this game.
Let’s say something positive for this title: the presentation is pretty damn solid. The team behind this game was responsible for the classic NES Batman based off the Tim Burton movie so you know the music and graphics are going to be good. However, while the challenge in that game felt fair and rewarding, the challenge in this one is cheap and not worth the headache. Also, do I really have to mention once again that Batman is shooting up his enemies like he’s a cross between Mega Man and John Rambo?
If this was a Punisher game or just an entirely original character it would be a mediocre game with good presentation. But as a Batman title, this one thrashes everything we love about the Caped Crusader.
12. X-Men Destiny (2011)
When your game is outclassed by similar titles that were released an entire console generation ago, you know that you’ve screwed up badly.
Developed by the historically mis-managed company Silicon Knights, the game was living in the shadow of the fantastic X-Men Legends series right when this game was announced as an action RPG. Silicon Knights had a great opportunity here though to make something of it with the ability to choose your story path and having an effect on the story. Or so they claimed.
In reality the choices your character makes amount to nothing in the long run as missions play out the same no matter if you fight for the Brotherhood or the X-Men. The game also wastes its potential by not allowing you to create your own custom character and instead forcing you to choose between three cookie cutter boring as hell characters.
11. Thor: God Of Thunder (X360/PS3 version) (2009)
I think it’s fair to say that in a battle between Thor and Kratos from Sony’s God of War series, Thor would win that fight. When it comes to video games though, the greek god of war massacres Thor and stomps out this weak imitation.
Released in 2009 alongside the first Thor movie, it shouldn’t be that hard to make a fun action game starring a god with a big hammer and lightning powers. Somehow though, the folks at Sega managed to ruin a simple concept by executing it with zero effort. The game has a terrible frame rate, ugly graphics and is so glitchy that it seems like the developers patched it together in under a week. Instead of feeling like a god of thunder you feel like a chump.
10. The Crow: City of Angels (1997)
It might not be owned by either of the two comic book giants, but The Crow is technically based off a comic book so it qualifies for this list. It is also technically a colossal pile of garbage.
Released in 1997 based off the movie of the same name, this action game for the Sega Saturn and Sony Playstation is difficult in all the wrong ways. The movement is a chore, the attack speed of your character is sad to watch and the hit detection is some of the worst in gaming history. Physics seem to have no place in this title as feet and fists seem to go through character models without rhyme or reason.
The enemies can also kill you in the blink of eye, hilarious considering the fact that the main character is supposed to be immortal in the movies. An unknown game from the 32/64 bit era, and it should stay that way.
9. The Incredible Hulk: The Pantheon Saga (1996)
If The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction is the game that makes you feel like you’re controlling the Hulk more than any other, this game will make you feel like the Hulk period. As in it will make you scream in a fit of rage and smash everything in sight, although I think your pants are safe though.
Released on the PS1 and Sega Saturn in 1996, this game seems to be misguided right from the concept. Rather than have the Hulk in open areas where he could smash everything to smithereens, he is stuck in rooms where he must stack boxes and figure out puzzles to advance. Not to mention that the Hulk looks pathetic and somehow looks even worse in motion. The Hulk punches and kicks like a 10-year-old boy who just came out of his aerobic boxing class, it’s sad to see the Green Goliath reduced to this.
8. Spider-Man 3 (Wii Version) (2007)
Let me take you back through a time machine to early days of the Nintendo Wii. Everyone was jumping up and down at this new prospect of using motion controls to experience games like never before. Being the giant Spider-Man fan I am, I was super pumped to get my hands on a wiimote and nunchuk to swing around a virtual New York. I instantly regretted that choice.
Spider-Man 3 for the Nintendo Wii has to be one of the butt ugliest and most frustrating games ever made. The controls aren’t precise in the least bit, the novelty of swinging wears off after five minutes and the missions are bland beyond belief. While it should be cool to unleash the power of the symbiote costume, even that isn’t enough to distract from the glitchy, blocky and dark mess of a game this is.
7. Fantastic Four (PS1) (1997)
How much abuse can the Fantastic Four name take? They have three reviled movies to their credit and one of the few video games where they’re the main stars is complete thrash.
Starring the four core members of the team plus She-Hulk, you would think a multi player beat em up on the PS1 would be easy to pull off. However, the folks over at Acclaim didn’t have two brain cells to rub together and as a result put out a game with butt ugly graphics, bizarre music and punishing difficulty. This came in 1997, the year after Marvel announced their bankruptcy, and you could tell from the state of this game just how bad of a shape Marvel was in the late 1990s.
At the very least, I suppose it’s cool to be able to play as the Marvel’s first family at the same time with friends. However, you could play Marvel Ultimate Alliance for the same result, so just pick that up instead.
6. Batman: Dark Tomorrow
At the time, this was one of the few Batman games to be based around the comic book version of Batman rather than a television show or film starring the Dark Knight. Unfortunately for Batman fans, this game is Bruce Wayne at his worst.
Well, for the most part it is. The storyline and cutscenes for this game are actually pretty damn good, but just about everything else is utter crap. The controls are cumbersome, there are mission breaking glitches aplenty and Batman moves so stiffly that he can be floored by random criminals with the greatest of ease.
What’s especially sad about this game is that it had so much promise. Originally planned as a Gamecube exclusive, it was supposed to be the first open world Batman game with advanced enemy A.I and the ability to operate all of Batman’s vehicles. What gamers ended up with though was a linear action title that dragged the Caped Crusaders name through the dirt before the Arkham series resurrected Batman in video game form.
5. The Uncanny X-Men (1989)
It is easy to give a pass on a first attempt at an idea. After all, they have nothing to start from and being original can be tough. But just because it was the first X-Men video game, doesn’t mean that Marvel’s The Uncanny X-Men on the NES is anything less than garbage.
The game is as mindless as you could in the 8-bit era. You choose your character from the roster of six characters (who despite having different stats fall into either ranged or melee characters) and destroy everything in your path. This would be fine if the game was responsive, looked nice and not too difficult. None of that applies of here though.
If you’re playing as Colossus, Nightcrawler or Wolverine you might as well turn in your controller as your only attack is nudging everything. Despite Colossus’ mighty steel crotch being impressive, it won’t save him in this title. The game is a mess and is best forgotten in favour of much superior X-Men titles.
4. Catwoman (2004)
This is an actual legitimate question. What is worse; Catwoman the movie or Catwoman the video game? That is saying something for the poor souls who have seen and/or played both these abominations.
Following the plot of the 2004 film, Catwoman is already dealt a bad hand by being attached to that bomb of a motion picture but it does nothing to help its case. The controls are baffling as you attack enemies with the C stick, the platforming is a nightmare due to how stiff Catwoman moves and the glitchy coding of the platforms. The poor camera system also ensures that you’re never able to see where you are in a room and since the camera is fixed, you’re at the mercy of the game.
3. Silver Surfer (1990)
The Silver Surfer is one of the most powerful heroes in the Marvel Universe and probably all of fiction for that matter. Heck, he’s so strong that I think he would even be able to defeat Superman. So how in the hell is this herald of Galactus defeated by a jack o lantern?
Famously eviscerated by the Angry Video Game Nerd for being one of the hardest games on the NES, the difficulty of this game lies in its impossible stage layouts and unforgiving health bar. Oh wait did I say health bar? Scratch that because one hit and Silver Surfer is sent hurdling off his board. Yes, one of the most powerful characters in all of fiction can be defeated by merely scraping a wall. The game is completely unplayable unless you have a turbo controller as you must be constantly firing you weapon to stand a chance.
2. Aquaman: Battle For Atlantis (2003)
You really have to feel bad for Aquaman fans. While I’m sure there are some good tales about the character and his powers are quite incredible, his name is dragged through the mud more than any other superhero. And this game has to be a huge contributing factor to Aquaman’s bad reputation.
Released on the Gamecube and Xbox in 2003 (the PS2 was spared), this game has got it all. Horrendous controls, lazy storytelling, pathetic combat and mind numbing pacing. It is one of those games where you have to see in motion to realize how bad it is.
If there is one good thing I could say about this game, is that it only costed $20 when it was released, almost as if the publisher’s conscience won out by not charging folks $60 for this monstrosity. You can’t say that about the next game though.
1. Superman 64 (1999)
Here it is. You all knew it was coming as many not only consider it the worst comic book game ever but simply the worst video game period. And it deserves all of the vitriol it gets.
Let’s start off with the presentation. The game’s soundtrack is so bland and unexciting that it’ll put you to sleep if the game wasn’t filling you with rage. The graphics are so simplistic that you wonder how the Nintendo 64 has produced Super Mario 64 and this game both.
The game’s design and gameplay are where the wheels truly fall off and hurl themselves into another galaxy. Half the game is spent flying through rings as you control a literal man of steel, as in a man who cannot move because he is encased in steel. The game is so glitchy that walls mean nothing as you can fly through them as if Superman became Kitty Pryde.
Superman 64 has cemented Superman as the most butchered comic book character in video game history, and he has yet to truly emerge from the depths.