Video games based on popular superhero franchises are almost always garbage. Despite the fact that most successful video game characters are already basically superheroes (Mario's Superman, Sonic's the Flash, Master Chief's Iron Man) when it comes time to make games based on actual superheroes, the video game industry usually fails disastrously.
But which superhero franchise has inspired the worst video games? I decided answer the question definitively -- I took a look at all the games spawned by five of the most popular superhero franchises, picked out the ones that are actually good, and calculated the crap ratio. Which hero has been the least inspiring? Batman? Spider-Man? Hit the jump to find out...
Note: This was hardly the most stringently scientific of studies. Whether or not a game is "good" is based entirely on my own recollections of the game, or if I haven't played it, reviews from GameRankings and MobyGames. I may have missed a game here or there. I may not have listed a game you like as "good". Try your best to get over it. This was just a fun thing I threw together in a couple hours, so don't take it too seriously. Thanks.
Games - 26
Good Games - 12
Batman (1986, Spectrum), Batman (1989, Amiga), Batman (1989, NES), Batman (1989, Genesis), Batman: Return of the Joker (NES), The Adventures of Batman and Robin (Genesis), The Adventures of Batman and Robin (SNES), Batman Begins (Cube/PS2/Xbox), Lego Batman, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Batman: Arkham City
Bad Games - 14
Crap Ratio - 54%
With a mere 54% of his games being trash, Batman has a better track record in video games than any other superhero. Not exactly surprising -- the guy was made for games. His abilities are limited to punching and throwing things at dudes, jumping around on roofs and racing around in a cool car and plane -- in other words he's perfectly suited for the brawler, platformer, racing and scrolling shooter genres. The fact that more than half of his games are still bad is more sad than impressive
Games - 25
Good Games - 11
Questprobe featuring Spider-Man (Commodore 64), Spider-Man (1982, Atari 2600), The Amazing Spider-Man (Amiga), Spider-Man (1991, Genesis), Spider-Man: The Video Game (Arcade), Spider-Man (2000, PS1/N64), Spider-Man: Mysterio's Menace (2001, GBA), Spider-Man (2002, PS2/GC/Xbox), Spider-Man 2 (PS2/GC/Xbox), Ultimate Spider-Man, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions
Bad Games - 14
Crap Ratio - 56%
Surprisingly solid for Spider-Man considering his web-swinging and wall-crawling abilities seem like they would be a real bitch to translate into gameplay. Spidey's ratio really benefits from the early 2000s run of good Spider-Man games from Activision. Of course they've since gone and largely killed that franchise like they do to all their golden gooses.
Games - 22
Good Games - 9
X-Men (1992, Arcade), X-Men (1993, Genesis), X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse (SNES), X-Men: Children of the Atom (Arcade), X-Men: Gamemaster's Legacy (Game Gear), X-Men 2: Clone Wars (Genesis), X-Men vs. Street Fighter (Arcade), X-Men: Legends (PS2/GC/Xbox), X-Men Legends 2: Rise of Apocalypse
Bad Games - 12
Crap Ratio - 59%
Most of the X-Men are just regular muscle-bound brawlers who happen to have a single, easy to translate to video games, super power (eye beams, ice beams, stabby claws). In other words, much like Batman, the X-Men are pretty much made to be video game stars. Unfortunately Marvel let Acclaim/LJN sit on the X-Men license for too long, fouling up their ratio.
Of course if I included all the Marvel vs. Capcom games, the X-Men crap ratio would be significantly lower, but since those aren't specifically X-Men games, I didn't count 'em. I also didn't count any of the solo Wolverine games, but those definitely wouldn't help the X-Men with their ratio.
Games - 16
Good Games - 3
Questprobe featuring the Hulk (1978, Commodore 64), The Invincible Iron Man (2002, GBA), The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction (2005, PS2/GC/Xbox)
Bad Games - 13
Crap Ratio - 77%
Okay, I bent the rules slightly for the Avengers -- I not only included games specifically about the Avengers as a whole, but solo adventures starring the classic members of the team (Captain America, Thor, Hulk and Iron Man). Don't worry though, bending the rules didn't help The Avengers' score -- unsurprisingly Marvel's second stringers are treated even worse than the triple-A stars like Spider-Man and the X-Men.
That said, Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction may be my favorite Marvel video game ever, so the Avengers have that going for 'em.
Games - 14
Good Games - 1
Superman (1988, Arcade)
Bad Games - 13
Crap Ratio - 93%
I'm probably being very generous listing the 80s Taito Superman arcade game as "good", but what the hell, I popped a few quarters in it back in the day, and I'd feel bad if I had to give Superman a 100% crap ratio.
Superman and video games just don't work. This is a guy who can move planets and reverse time on a whim -- there's just no way to satisfyingly fit him into the framework of your standard video game, and it seems like most developers tasked with doing so just throw their hands up and don't even try.
The only way I could see a Superman game working is if Tim Schafer was allowed to make an adventure game based on the 60s Superman who just strolled around engaging in wacky sit-com style hijinks involving gorillas and magic elves. Anything that actually tries to involve action is doomed to failure.