This week has been a nostalgic week for Spider-Man fans. The release of the Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer - which re-introduced some classic villains via the multiverse - instantly became the most-watched trailer within a 24 hour period, beating the likes of Avengers: Endgame. It's an incredible achievement, and unless you've been living under a rock, you're most likely one of the 355,500,000 views that helped break that record. As one of the many excited fans around the world, I've been on something of a Spider-Man high this week, leading me to check out some classic games based on the superhero. And you know what? Xbox has hosted some incredible titles over the years.
First, let's address the elephant in the room. PlayStation owns arguably the best video game iteration as a console exclusive, but there are still some mighty impressive games for us to dive into. Unfortunately, due to licensing, most of these games aren't backwards compatible on the Xbox One or Xbox Series X|S, but it's always nice to be nostalgic, right? It might even encourage you to dust off your old console for some quality web-slinging.
The first Spider-Man game to grace the Xbox was based on the original Sam Raimi movie featuring Tobey Maguire. While it was fun and serviceable, it wasn't until the sequel came out that the hero really got the chance to shine. A fully-fledged open-world version of New York City was crafted and players were able to let loose as Spider-Man. You could complete missions, stop crimes or just embrace the exhilarating web-swinging, which for the time was revolutionary. As far as movie tie-ins go, it's considered one of the best and for good reason. It truly embraced everything about the franchise fans have come to love over the years.
While many argue Spider-Man 2 is the best game, personally, I would go with the next title to release, which is Ultimate Spider-Man - a timeless game with a graphical art style that holds up today. There's something about the cel-shaded look that has always worked with me and even when booting it up in 2021 on an OLED TV screen, it still shines. There's so much personality in the world that it truly makes me feel like I'm eight years old again, wrapped up in my Spider-Man blanket on the sofa watching the Saturday morning cartoon.
If you haven't played it, you're doing yourself a disservice. Mechanically, it still feels great to play today. Yes, there are a few wonky camera issues and the web-swinging has been refined since then, but the combat, mission design and feeling of exploration is unrivalled, in my opinion. The addition of being able to play as Venom is also extremely cool, allowing you to play both as the hero and anti-hero. An early mission where you're forced to fight against Wolverine as the alien symbiote is a particular highlight.
Both Spider-Man 2 and Ultimate Spider-Man feel great to play. In today's world, each title would most likely have been bogged down with open-world fluff and rushed out the door to tie into the 'next big Spider-Man' movie. Yet, here they are in all their glory - two incredible games sitting on the original Xbox. It's a shame they'll most likely never be made backwards compatible, but if you can source an old console, they're absolutely worth the effort to do so.
Of course, these aren't the only two fantastic titles we've had. While not as polished as the previously mentioned games, Spider-Man: Web of Shadows is an incredibly fun adventure on the Xbox 360 that aims to replicate the feeling of those nostalgic titles. It doesn't always hit the mark, and is perhaps a bit too moody, but the gameplay itself still presents itself magnificently. There's also Spider-Man 3, which plays similarly to Spider-Man 2, but is nowhere near as refined and polished, however does have some hilarious quick-time event fails. Probably doesn't help that it's based on a mediocre movie. But if you can see past its flaws, there's still some classic Spider-Man fun to be had.
Even the linear games which ditch the open-world setup have their positives. Both Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions and Spider-Man: Edge of Time are action-packed adventures, allowing fans to play as various iterations of the hero from over the years, such as the iconic Noir version of Spider-Man. The combat is a highlight, allowing you to use an array of skills that haven't previously been in any of the games. The duo act as love letter to the entire franchise and both helped pave the way for the universally acclaimed movie, Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse.
I'm also going to go out on a limb and defend the two Amazing Spider-Man games that were released to tie in with the Andrew Garfield films. There are some terrible moments, but the swinging was the best it had been since the original Xbox titles. At the end of the day, isn't that what being Spider-Man is all about? That sense of freedom as you shut out the rest of the world. The combat borrowed elements of the Batman: Arkham series, including the stealth sections. If you're looking for a pretty fun time, you can check out The Amazing Spider-Man 2 on Xbox One still.
While it's easy to look at Marvel's Spider-Man on PlayStation and be pretty miffed we won't have that same experience, there's still an entire legacy of fun, weird and genuinely great Spider-Man games across the Xbox's lifespan. Sure, not every single one of them works and others are a bit of a mess, but each title has at least something in it that's worth checking out. A few are even games I would consider truly amazing and a staple of my gaming life. If you've caught the spider bite since the No Way Home trailer, then try and check out some older Spider-Man Xbox titles.
You may be surprised!
Do you have a favourite Spider-Man Xbox game? Let us know in the comments below.