Next summer, prepare for an onslaught of superhero movies. Marvel is prepping for The Avengers with Thor and Captain America, while Warner Bros is bringing space-opera back with The Green Lantern. As such, we should expect a followup wave of videogame cash-ins, with Thor and Captain America already confirmed, and a Green Lantern title inevitably in the works at the industry equivalent to a sweatshop.
But amongst the filth and runoff of superhero tie-ins, we've been lucky to enjoy some true gems, and in recognition of this, we at Dealspwn thought it prudent to honor ten of the best. Not limiting ourselves to licensed properties, we proudly present The Top 10 Superhero Games!
10. Hulk: Ultimate Destruction
Before Prototype flattened expectations like a friendly pat from the Hulk himself, Radical Entertainment made a name for itself with Ultimate Destruction. As Hulk, you could leap entire buildings, even run up their surfaces vertically. Combat was a joy, too, as you could split a car in two and batter foes with each half like makeshift gloves. It was a fantastic game, overall. Plenty of potential for a sequel.
9. X-Men (1992)
I can't quite remember where I stumbled on the X-Men game from 92'. It was in an arcade, and I remember running to a local shop to split my change for the bus into coins. I'd grown up on the likes of X-Men and Spiderman, and in the early years of my life where I didn't even know what a videogame was, this game was revelatory. It's due a re-release on Xbox LIVE and the Playstation Network. I can't wait. Well, I can, but I don't want to.
8. Spiderman 2
It's low on the list, but this is, without doubt, the best Spiderman game yet. It was the first, and strangely enough last, to implement web-swinging that was both fun and intuitive. Manhattan was not only beautiful; it was a literal playground, with skyscrapers replacing monkey-bars, and free-falling from vast heights a slide. Why, then, has it been so long since we've enjoyed a Spiderman game, eh?
7. Batman (1989)
Released on the NES, Batman was a side-scrolling platformer with more than a slight resemblance to Castlevania. It was a great game, with each tier of the five stages a windowsill or rooftop. Batman was a swift and agile combatant, armed with his bat-themed shurikens, discs and even a spear gun. The climactic showdown with the Clown Prince of Gotham himself, the Joker, was great, and the music was retro-gold!
6. Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes
Letting the likes of Ryu, Captain Commando and Morrigan duke it out with Wolverine, Spiderman and Magneto is such an obviously wonderful idea it's amazing it took so long to materialize. MVC 2 isn't just fan-service, however; it's as deep and finessed as you'd expect from Capcom, which is no mean when you're balancing for fragile mortals like Ken to face off against gamma-powered hulks like... the Hulk.
5. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
I loved Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, creating my own superhero mash-ups from friend and foe alike, or for just reassembling the Avengers, X-Men and Fantastic Four. It had a fantastic story that, while it lacked sharp writing and characterization, more than made up for in great moments, such as venturing to Atlantis to rescue its mentally-bound populace, and relocating Stark Tower as HQ. Also, it was just plain fun to batter hordes of enemies, switching to and fro from superhero to superhero.
4. Captain America and The Avengers
It's not long before we see this title attached to the inevitable Avengers game, some time in 2012. In the meantime, cast your nostalgic gaze back to the year of 91', and the excellent Captain America and The Avengers title, which eventually transitioned across almost all platforms. Despite being something of a Streets of Rage ripoff, The Avengers was a great side-scrolling beat em' up, with the titular Captain America joining forces with the pre-Robert Downey Jnr Iron Man, Hawkeye and the Vision, as they sought to prevent yet another evil plan from the Red Skull.
3. Freedom Force
Before Bioshock, Irrational was making a name for itself, with the likes of Freedom Force. Instead of inheriting an already established universe and stable of heroes and villians, Irrational conjured up their own, with the likes of Minuteman and Liberty Lad, granted superhuman powers by the mysterious force of Energy X, striving to defend Patriot City from the despotic Nuclear Winter and co.
Our second non-licensed property, Infamous was as electrifying as Cole McGrath himself. Blending Sucker Punch's expertise in the platforming genre with the sandbox layout pioneered by GTA, and just the right dollop of shoot 'em up sensibilities, Infamous is, in my opinion, the best game on the PS3. It's story was promising, bolstered by stylish comic book panels, the action and platforming was nigh-perfect, and who else can claim to surf monorails to pass the monotony of public transport?
1. Batman: Arkham Asylum
It's not often a game impresses me so much I rent it out twice. But I just couldn't resist the allure of Arkham Asylum. Whether it's the 'free flow' combat-system, the stealth and gadgetry, or simply Mark Hamill's performance, I can't decide. I knew, though, from the second I escorted the Joker into Arkham's loving arms, laughing at the Clown Prince of Gotham's twisted sense of humour, cowering before the ten-foot bulk of Killer Croc, and, finally, that adrenaline rush when Joker escapes, and Batman springs into action. Arkham City has a lot to live up to.
What's your favourite superhero game on this list? Did we miss out a few obvious contenders you'd like to remind us of? If so, sign off in the comments section below!