Top Five Marvel Arcade Games

Once upon a time, there was a fabled and majestic land known as the Local Arcade. Before the age of Xbox Live, the Local Arcade was the spot to get together with your fellow gamer nerds for some social gaming action. Row upon row of cabinets, each offering a unique gaming experience, all begging for your quarters. If you were a comic fan during the Golden Age of arcades, there were many classic games that certainly peaked your interest.

And no comic company was better represented at the Local Arcade than Marvel. Today at iFanboy, lets take a look at the top five Marvel Comics arcade games.

punisher nick fury arcade5. The Punisher (1-2 players, Capcom, 1993)

Most of your classic superhero-based arcade games follow the Final Fight, or “beat ‘em up” formula. Walk to the right, smack the living hell out of everything that moves, and repeat. But the Punisher brought two special variations to the classic formula: Guns and Nick Fury.

Not that the players could walk around putting 9mm slugs in any old enemy that walks by. No, Frank and Nick are good guys, so of course they only pull out their guns when the bad guys have them also. This doesn’t stop the Surly Duo from punching, cutting, and suplexing any piece of criminal scum they could get their hands on.

The only downside to the game was that The Punisher and Nick Fury controlled in exactly the same way. Same punches, same kicks, same hand grenades… but Nick Fury was cooler because he smoked a cigar the whole time while kicking ass.

A censored home version was released on the Genesis a year later, removing some of the more “graphic” violence and Nick Fury’s smoking habit.

4. Spider-Man: The Video Game (1-4 players, SEGA, 1991)

Spider-Man! Black Cat! Namor! Hawkeye!Spider-Man arcade screenshot

“Wait,” I hear you say, “what are Namor and Hawkeye doing a Spider-Man game?” I asked myself that same question when I first saw this cabinet at my local arcade, and honestly never got an answer. The plot of Spider-Man: The Video Game revolves around an ancient tablet that throws supervillian abilities into overdrive, leading our odd group of heroes against the ‘ol web heads entire rouge’s gallery, eventually leading up to a final confrontation with Doctor Doom.

Controls for Spider-Man are your standard beat ‘em up fare: one button to attack and one to jump, but each character had their own unique set of moves. Gameplay would switch up during some levels, where the camera would zoom out, turning the game into a side-scrolling platformer. The first of these side scrolling areas has players fighting a 30-foot tall Venom, which just totally blew my mind as a kid.

Sadly, Spider-Man: The Video Game never came to home consoles.

3. Captain American and the Avengers (1-4 players, Data East, 1991)

Released in the same year as Spider-Man, Cap & the Avengers has a much more sensible lineup: Captain captain america arcade promo posterAmerica, Iron Man, Vision, and Hawkeye (man, Clint sure does get around). The Red Skull is up to his old tricks again, leaving the avengers to battle through hoards or generic bad dudes and many Marvel villains like Whirlwind, the Mandarin, Ultron, and Crossbones.

To break up the pace of pummeling thugs all day, Captain America features a few flying levels. Iron Man and Vision can fly own their own, of course, while Cap and Hawkeye are stuck on hovering scooters to get the job done.

Several other Avengers also make cameo appearances when help items are picked up, including Wasp, Namor, and Wonder Man.

Credits in Captain America didn’t translate into a certain number of “lives” like in other titles, but instead filled up a three digit numerical display. Taking hits would decrease the gage, and once it hit zero it was game over. It was one of the first games to try and guilt the player into putting in another quarter to continue with the famous battlecry: “Captain America still needs your help!”

I’ll never forgive myself for leaving Cap hanging in the middle of Chuck E. Cheese.

2. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 (1-2 players, Capcom, 2000)Marvel vs. Capcom 2 arcade cabinet

Capcom’s fighting games have always been a staple of the arcade scene. From the humble beginnings of Street Fighter II, Capcom’s fighters have gotten progressively more complex, stylized, and expanded their character rosters to astronomical levels. It all came to a head in 2000 with the release of Marvel vs. Capcom 2.

Featuring 56 characters (28 from each side), MvC2 became of the premiere fighting games that is still played competitively over a decade after it’s release. It’s crazy, over-the-top, attacks and animations still attract amateurs and pros alike. Among comic aficionados, MvC2 became a way to play out all those “who would win?” debates we’ve all experienced. Spider-Man vs. Juggernaut? Gambit vs. Dr. Doom? Magneto vs. Venom? Yeah, Marvel vs. Capcom has all that covered.

For a long time, MvC2 was so popular that the home versions on PS2, Xbox, and Dreamcast once fetched over $100 on eBay. In 2009, Capcom created an HD update for the game, available for download over Xbox Live or PSN. The addition of online play means you’re never at a loss for a human opponent.

Marvel vs. Capcom 3 has been announced for a early 2011 release, and promises to up ante for one of the greatest comic/game franchises of all time.

1. X-Men (1-6 players, Konami, 1992)X-Men Arcade Six Player Version

There are two-player and four-player versions, but for anyone who’s stood up with five other warriors at six-player cabinet of Konami’s X-Men arcade game know why this one is at the top of the list. Few arcade cabinets hold such majesty and wonder as this double-screened beauty, each joystick tied to a specific character. And what a character roster! Cyclops, Wolverine, Colossus, Storm, Nightcrawler (RIP), and Dazzler, all decked out in their late 80s uniforms, and each with a unique mutant power waiting to be unleashed.

Magneto is once again trying to take over the world in the name of Mutant Kind, this time with an army of Sentinels at his disposal. On the way to Asteroid M, the X-Men must fight their way through the likes of Pyro, The Blob, White Queen, Mystique, and hundreds upon hundreds of human-sized Sentinels.

X-Men utilized a three-button control scheme: attack, jump, and mutant power. Using your mutant power would take away some of your life bar, unless you find a power-pellet which gives you a free one-time use of your power.

This is another classic arcade title that was never translated to a home version. While I’d like to see a Xbox or PS3 port with online multiplayer, it wouldn’t be able to capture that feeling of comradery that you get with six people gathered around the same screen, all united towards the common goal of putting a stop to Magneto’s nefarious plan… one quarter at a time.


Josh Richardson just needs one more quarter. Come on, he swears he’s good for it. Read him talk about games on Twitter.


  1. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Every doodle of a fantasy mansion I’ve ever drawn has included an X-Men arcade cabinet. Not just my favorite Marvel game, but one of my favorite gaming experiences ever. 

    Takes me back to the Ocean City board walk. Good times. 

  2. … wasted many, many hours on the spider-man game ..

  3. That X-Men arcade had Dazzler as a playable character.

     ‘Nuff said.

  4. Ahhh, this brings me back.  Now let’s see if everybody here can quote every dorky line that came out of the Avengers’ mouths during the game.  I’ll start it off:

    Avengers: "YOU CAN’T ESCAPE!"

    Whirlwind: "YOU’LL BE THE ONE ESCAPING!"

  5. Man that spider-Man game was the tits. I remember as a kid we took a road trip to my dads home town to visit my grandpa and my aunt. While we were at the local mall i ran across the spider-man game. I was astounded. How did this tiny mall in this town that was half the size of my hometown have a game like this when my own local arcade didn’t? For two years straight I was eager for a trip to to visit grandpa in the hopes he would take us to the mexican restaurant that was across the hall from the malls arcade. damn that game was good.

  6. many a quarters were spent in that X-Men game.  Well done on number one!

  7. Honorable mention should go to Ultimate Alliance and the Spiderman games of the PS2 era.  No matter what every Marvel game has been better than Superman for the Nintendo 64.

  8. "Captain America and the Avengers" was my favorite of the bunch, by far, although that first Capcom/Marvel collaboration (I think it was "X-Men") was great, too.

    What I’m REALLY waiting for is a Super Smash Bros. style game with a Marvel roster.  I would love it.  Go ahead.  Unashamedly copy every single aspect of SSB and throw a Marvel face on it.  I’ll buy it. 

  9. @RaceMcCloud  I would by the hell out of that as well sir.

  10. I remember getting into arguments with friends over what game we’d all play at the arcade, X-Men or The Simpsons.

    Great list.

  11. oooh! X-men.  Memories:)

  12. I’ve got these on my MAME emulator and remember playing the X-Men for several hours at the local pool hall as a kid. Awesome!

  13. NOSTALGIC? USE MAME! (FUCK! dam u JESTR!!! u beat me to it!!!)

    Yeah man! I love these games! BEAT EM’ UPS are my kinds of games and I fondly remember eating away my last dollars of allowance kicking balls at D&D: Shadow over Mystara, X-men: The Arcade, and even X-men: Children of the Atom. Also remember how NO ONE wanted to be Dazzler? I LOVED those wierd moments where a friend was forced to play as her.

    Then I’d go home and play on my GENESIS: Streets of Rage 1,2,3. X-men 1, and of course Double Dragon on my NES and Punisher on my SNES. Good times. Every Sakura Con I own NOOBS on beat em ups and MVC1 and 2 just to remind them who’s boss.

  14. Worst part is now that MVC 3 is announced to be … 3D i’m afraid I will NOT be buying it. The 3D backgrounds meshed with animated characters in MVC 2 was a HUGE factor to why it sold out and remained so f’ing expensive for years to come.

  15. what no love for that Avengers arcade game or the X-Men vs. Street Fighter? Yeah that X-Men konami game was freaking sweet back in the day, too bad they don’t make arcade games like that anymore I would definitely go back to the Arcades if they did.

  16. I think there would’ve been bloodshed, and maybe even a Seige staged by ifanboy members, had X-men the Arcade game not been ranked first on this list.

  17. Man, this takes me back…

  18. X-Men and WWF Wrestlefest are pretty much 1 and 1a on my best arcade games of all time list.  Anytime you had a full group for either of those it was just good times all around.

     I was actually thinking about Spiderman on the train today.  I would have sworn that Captain America was in it though, so clearly my memories aren’t as strong as I thought they were.  I do remember the zoom out and Black Cat yelling her name.  Also her really strange swinging kick.

    Also, first time I ever played Punisher was during a family trip to Disneyworld.  I don’t remember if it was actually at the hotel or somewhere that we had gone to, but I remember it was awesome.

  19. @Paul: Me too man! I’ll never forget beating that game in the Ocean City boardwalk arcade. It was just me and another kid I had never met before. He joined me sometime around the second level, and it took almost fifteen dollars of our collective quarters but we were finally victorious. A cheer and a high-five later we went our seperate ways. We never said a word to each other. I’ll never forget it. Maybe you were that kid.

    The sequel to this story is that years later I was waiting for some friends and played it again for shits and gigs. I beat it alone with $2.50. The second time around was cheeper, but less exciting.

  20. *cheaper

  21. @RoiVampire – I’m sayin’.

  22. I took my 4 year old to a Chuck E. Cheese a few weeks ago and they had  the Xmen game. Needless to say it was a good day.

  23. @ mangaman : MvC3 will be 3D models on a 2D plane. So you will still be playing left to right, put with a modern sheen. Same way comics went from Al Milgrom & Herb Trimpe to John Cassaday & Bryan Hitch. It’s a style evolution.

  24. No love for Konami’s TMNT arcade game? That game ate up a lot of my quarters back in the day.

  25. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    TMNT isn’t a Marvel property though, right? 

  26. Marvel Vs. Capcom was really big in our country.

    Love one word Nickfury, too!

  27. They still have that X-men game in the Nickel arcade where I live. Or they did 7 years ago.

  28. So many times I played the Avengers game with my brother.  And we could never get past the water stage.


    By the way, there was also a Flash game for the Sega Master System, not great, but it was fun to play.

  29. Oh man! I loved that X-Men game. They had one at the skating rink (where half the people had their birthdays) and another this bumper car/batting cage/arcade place (where the other half had their birthdays) we organized the best 6-man team to beat this game. We must have played it a million times over two years.

  30. Ohh that X-Men game…I loved that thing! I hadn’t played one in YEARS until my senior class trip to Cedar Point where they ACTUALLY HAD ONE!!! oh it was saweet!!!

  31. @RahUniQue: I have to disagree with you there my friend. It hardly seems like evolution to me if the style is unappealing, blocky, and defamation to the original vision of homaging anime. It doesn’t work because it isn’t what the creators and collaborators of the original VS. series had in mind just like how most games imported from Xbox 360 and PS3 into the Wii are TERRIBLE because the creators didn’t have those mechanics in mind. The gaming system of MvC/MvC2 did not have 3D characters in mind and that’s why mechanics such as supers (take the Super-Hadouken) are lackluster at best, because it lacks that certain Je ne sais quois that appealed to veteran gamers like myself that made the series such a hit in the first place.

    @ShaunR: X-men vs. Streetfighter was implied when I talked about the Capcom Vs. series a few  weeks ago in that MvC3 article. It introduced ALOT of new gamers to the Vs. series.

  32. It’s funny how this is one of the few places you’d see the X-Men beat em up ranked higher than Marvel vs Capcom 2, given the insanely big community that game attracts. It’s also largely a reflection of alot of the ifanboy user age range.

  33. I wanted to go to Chucky Cheese just to play that X-men arcade game with 5 other random kids…that brings back so many great memories

  34. Those games were all great. *sniff* memories

  35. @Paul: Between the time I read through the article and posted I had completely forgotten that the articles’s focus was Marvel Comics-based games. Thanks for making my brain snap back into place!

    However, I would replace the Avengers game with Cadillacs & Dinosaurs. Not only was it a great Capcom arcade fighter (a la Final Fight), Marvel Comics actually published this comic. (Although technically this was just color reprints of the independent/Kitchen Sink  Xenozic Tales, but it still counts as a Marvel comic nonetheless.) 

  36. i wonder if they can make those Final Fight type of games again. It would be interesting to see the new Avengers fighting against the Hammer. As for Capcom vs Marvel, I cant wait for the 3rd one to come out. =)

  37. I long for a bar that has that X-Men cabinet.  I’ve had far too much of Golden Tee.  They would get my patronage.

  38. @360Logic – Right on the money.  The X-Men beat-em-up is a pure nostalgia choice.  Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 is so much better in terms of gameplay and design it’s not even close to being close.

  39. Quicksilver was in the captain America game too.

  40. Ah, Captain America and its ridiculously cheesy lines…

     "Where is the laser?!"  "Ask the police!"

     "America STILL needs your help!"

     "You came here to DIE!"

     "What an evil thing you’ve done!"

     And of course that weird laugh the villains do.

  41. The last time I spent a quarter on an arcade game, it was that X-Men cabinet in the lounge of my college student union. It was dated by then, but it never got old.

  42. i got to play the cap one its preety good

  43. @ : OHHHH MY GOD! Cadillacs & Dinosaurs! how could I forget THAT one?

    Oh remember that REALLY WIERD 3 part series "Sengoku" only available on the arcade?:

    Here’s a clip:
    Sengoku 1 (wtf!?):
    Sengoku 2:

    It was the equivilant of video game on acid at the time.

    There was also the classic beat em up Aliens vs. Predator. I have no actual comment about it accept that I had nightmares about it. I was 10 OK?

    Here’s a youtube vid of some of them: