Spider-Man is, without question, one of the most universally beloved superheroes of all time. This quick and quippy hero made his video game debut on the Atari 2600 in 1982, and since then, has starred in over 30 different games. However, it can be tough to identify the best retro Spider-Man games at a glance, as no two adventures are created equal. While several of these old-school titles feel like lazy cash-ins, there are some spectacular retro Spider-Man games that are still a blast to play.
For those gamers who are eager to experience the very best retro Spider-Man games, we’ve curated a list that will point you in the right direction. Between side scrolling platformers, arcade-style beat ’em ups, and early open-world adventures, there’s an impressive variety to satisfy your retro cravings. Listed chronologically by release date, these retro Spider-Man games will surely have you swinging back around for more!
Take a Swing at the Best Retro Spider-Man Games
1. Spider-Man: Return of the Sinister Six (NES)
Released in 1992 on the Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Master System, Spider-Man: Return of the Sinister Six delivers a tough-as-nails side scrolling experience that will test even the most hardened retro gamers. This simplistic adventure sees Spider-Man going toe-to-toe against some of his most notorious enemies in 6 brutal platforming levels.
Although Spider-Man had been kicking around in the gaming world for around a decade at this point, Return of the Sinister Six was one of the first titles to capture the speed and intensity of this iconic hero. As long as you can deal with the Contra-style difficulty, Return of the Sinister Six stands as a retro challenge that few have claimed victory over.
2. Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage (SNES)
With its eye-catching red cartridge, the Super Nintendo version of Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage still earns praise to this day. Developed by Software Creations and released in 1994, this beat ’em up offers an exciting team-up adventure, as Spider-Man and his nemesis Venom join forces to defeat the demented and dangerous villain, Carnage.
The combat feels weighty and satisfying, and with a radical 1990s chiptune soundtrack, it’s easy to get lost in the vibes as you pummel opponents left and right. Although it was mostly dismissed around launch, Maximum Carnage has earned a cult following over time, with many fans considering it one of the best retro Spider-Man games of all time.
3. Spider-Man (PS1)
In the year 2000, Spider-Man received a major upgrade, as the affable hero swung into the world of 3D gaming for the very first time. Developed by Neversoft (who also created the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series), Spider-Man was a huge hit, releasing on all major home consoles and even Game Boy Color.
Neversoft went all-out for Spider-Man’s first foray into 3D, crafting an adventure that features a slew of fan-favorite characters, including Mary Jane, Venom, Mysterio, and even The Punisher. Despite the mediocre PC port, this PlayStation 1 classic is often at the forefront of any discussion about memorable old-school superhero games.
4. Spider-Man: Mysterio's Menace (GBA)
Although handheld consoles often get the short end of the stick when it comes to licensed games, Spider-Man: Mysterio’s Menace exists as an exception to that rule. Released in 2001 and developed by the talented minds at Vicarious Visions, Mysterio’s Menace is a straightforward sidescrolling adventure that provides a surprising amount of charm into its portable package.
Across 7 levels, players must face off against villains like Electro, Rhino, and Scorpion, all while dodging obstacles and defeating enemies. Unlike its more challenging predecessors, Mysterio’s Menace also includes various upgrades and new suits, which help ease the challenge and make things more manageable. Simply put, if you want to enjoy a great retro Spider-Man game on a handheld, Mysterio’s Menace is one of the best choices you can make.
5. Spider-Man 2 (PS2/XBOX/GC)
If you’ve played either of the recent PlayStation 4/5 Spider-Man games, you only have to look back at 2004’s Spider-Man 2 to see the roots of those modern masterpieces. Loosely based on the blockbuster movie starring Tobey Maguire and heavily inspired by games like Grand Theft Auto III, Spider-Man 2 lets players loose in New York City, where they can freely swing around while completing missions and side activities.
For decades, this sequel stood as the gold standard for retro Spider-Man games, and thanks to its availability on every major console, it was enormously successful and received massive acclaim. Better yet, the game has aged wonderfully and remains enjoyable nearly 2 decades since its initial release. In the sea of classic superhero games, Spider-Man 2 proves that great game design and proper character portrayal can lead to adaptations that are as timeless as their source material.