Looking to replay some of the classics on one of the best handhelds of all time? Read on to find out which retro Marvel games on PSP are still worth playing today, what options you’ve got for playing them on more modern hardware, and more importantly, why you’d want to.
Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects
We still have no idea what to make of Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects. It’s absolutely a game everyone should play, but not for the usual reasons.
What happens when you take Marvel characters and infuse them with a gameplay similar to Thrill Kill? How about some Mortal Kombat-style finishers? Oh, and there are aliens created especially for this game, because who doesn’t love random characters they’ve never heard of?
So it’s a fighting game, just not in the style of Marvel vs Capcom. It’s more open – with lots of jumping and scenery to navigate. A fighting game with Z-list villains. Sounds great. What more could you ask for? Anything. Literally anything else that isn’t this.
It’s such a weird idea for a game, especially when you consider how popular the 3D adventure and 2D fighting games were at the time. Rise of the Imperfects, we assume, was EA’s chance to merge those two genres. Did it work? Not in the slightest, but it’s such a bizarre experiment that everyone needs to play it to experience this utterly mad fusion for themselves.
Iron Man 2
Despite not being hugely popular at launch, Iron Man 2 has gained a following over time.
Visually, for the time, it nails the aesthetic. The UI is far too overbearing, but character models really stand out. Its biggest problem is that it’s a 3D game on a system without a right-stick. Controlling Iron Man is exhilarating when it works, but the clunkiness really brings it down.
Still, given this game was released in 2010, it’s a fun little distraction if you’re a fan of the Iron Man movies.
Spider-Man Web of Shadows
Spider-Man Web of Shadows is another of the Marvel PSP games that did terribly at launch.
It is essentially a retro Marvel game made for a then-modern system. Remember the likes of Maximum Carnage or X-Men Mutant Apocalypse on the SNES? It’s like those, only with nicer graphics.
Back in 2007, it didn’t feel like a throwback to the games of yesteryear. It was more of a relic than anything else. But playing it today, it’s not nearly as bad as most remember, and if you’re after a Spider-Man game with a retro feel, it’s got enough there to keep you entertained.
Spider-Man Friend or Foe
Now here’s a controversial opinion: Spider-Man Friend or Foe wasn’t awful. Sure, it wasn’t an all-timer, and when you compare it with the vastly superior official movie tie-ins it’s simply not up to scratch.
But if you’re after a Spider-Man adventure with serviceable co-op, it’s worth checking out.
Relying heavily on the Sam Rami Spider-Man design, Friend or Foe follows Spider-Man as he attempts to stop the alien P.H.A.N.T.O.M.s (Perpetual Holographic Avatar Nano-Tech Offensive Monsters) and collect shards from a fragmented symbiote meteor.
The story isn’t anything too interesting, but it serves its purpose. Where this game comes alive is in being able to play as different characters – adding an almost Marvel Ultimate Alliance feel to gameplay.
Playable characters include Spider-Man, Black Cat, Blade, Doctor Octopus, Green Goblin, Iron Fist, New Goblin, Rhino, Sandman, and Venom.
The PSP version also includes exclusive characters in both Carnage and Electro.
While Friend or Foe may not be the best Spider-Man game out there, especially when Insomniac exists, but if you’ve got a PSP and are looking for something low-key to pass the time, it’s a perfectly serviceable game to keep you busy.
One of the things missing from the current gaming scene is the endless supply of hack ‘n’ slash games. Sometimes you just want to smack buttons and beat up fools.
That’s the itch Ghost Rider on PSP scratches. It’s kind of like a more demonic-focused cross between Dante’s Inferno and God of War. It’s not perfect by any means, but if you’re a fan of the Ghost Rider comics or the very good Nicolas Cage movie, Ghost Rider is a blast.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance
Some games age brilliantly. Marvel Ultimate Alliance is as good today as it was then.
There’s something about being able to assemble a wide variety of characters that really adds to the excitement. Even more so if you don’t spoil who’s in it.
The idea behind these games is simple: Diablo, but Marvel. Though instead of a handful of classes, you’ve got 34 playable characters to toy around with.
Of course, some aren’t enjoyable in the slightest, but that’s to be expected when you have such a large cast.
The only major issue when playing Marvel Ultimate Alliance on an original PSP today is it’s a very muddy game. If you own the UMD disc, it’s well worth getting it up and running in something like PPSSPP to take advantage of the resolution boost feature.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2
In all honesty, there isn’t much of a difference between the first Marvel Ultimate Alliance game and the second.
Is that a bad thing? Not really. When the formula works, there isn’t much call to change it up.
While the character count in Ultimate Alliance 2 caps out at 30, there’s still a wide enough roster to have fun with. The story follows the Mutant Registration Act arc from the comics, and even involves joining up with one of the sides.
The comic-book arc was exciting, yet somehow Ultimate Alliance 2 manages to make it somewhat tedious. If you’re expecting a captivating story, Ultimate Alliance 2 isn’t going to scratch that itch. If, however, you just want to batter enemies as a variety of Marvel characters, that’s where this game rocks.
There were approximately a million different Spider-Man games back in the day. Some great, some utterly forgettable. Chances are, if you ask someone what their favorite Spider-Man game was growing up, they’ll answer Spider-Man 2.
Admittedly Spider-Man 2 on PSP isn’t quite as open-world as the PlayStation 2 version, but then we are talking about a handheld here, so it’s understandable. What you do get instead is the home-console version broken down into scenes.
Amazingly, this works. The world feels alive and the web-slinging sections feel spacious. Combat still hits like a brick. And it’s one of the few Spider-Man games where players truly feel like Spider-Man.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Movie tie-in games went one of two ways. Either they sucked, or they surprised. As with Spider-Man 2, X-Men Origins: Wolverine was far better than most were expecting.
The story served its purpose, but where things got really heated was the combat. It was straight-up brutal like an MMA fight, only instead of fists, it’s adamantium claws.
Seriously, if you’ve yet to play this game, ignore the fact it’s a movie tie-in and go into it expecting a solid Wolverine game. You won’t be disappointed.
X-Men Legends 2
Marvel Ultimate Alliance is great and all but it sure did run into an issue. Playing as Spider-Man is great. But is playing as Daredevil fun? He has sticks! Two of them! Yeah, not so much.
That’s why the X-Men Legends series will always best the Ultimate Alliance titles. When you’ve got a roster full of mutants only, you’ve got a wider selection of gameplay mechanics to choose from.
Wanna get stabby? Go Wolverine. Lasers? Pull out Cyclops. Want to scorch the world? That’s what Phoenix is for.
I’d also argue X-Men makes for a better and far more interesting story. Fight me.
It’s worth keeping in mind the PSP is capable of playing PS1 classics, so don’t limit yourself to only retro Marvel games on PSP. There’s a whole symphony of games to discover on the original PlayStation console.
But which games should be on your radar? There’s a lot to choose from, but the three you need to seek out are Spider-Man, X-Men: Children of the Atom, and the always-brilliant Marvel vs Capcom.
The X-Men game won’t be for everyone, but we can absolutely recommend both Spider-Man and Marvel vs Capcom. Especially the latter, too, because the pixel art style just doesn’t age.
What Is the Best Way to Play PSP Games Today?
There are a few ways to play PSP games today. If you’re after an authentic experience, the original PSP hardware is always going to be the best bet.
If you’re not too fussed about authenticity, and this is how we do it, the PS Vita is the way to go. Both versions of the PS Vita have absolutely gorgeous screens, so PSP games will look great on it. The only downside is you’ll need to hack your Vita and own a PSP to rip your games on there to get up and running. It’s worth it, but it’s a long process and not the best time-effective option.
If you’re looking for something a little more modern, there are a host of retro handheld devices capable of running PSP games, and the more powerful devices can even upscale the resolution. Just keep in mind, with the retro handhelds, compatibility isn’t guaranteed, and the cheaper devices may struggle to run even the most basic of games.
You can find some of the top retro handheld devices to play PSP games below as well as links to find out more.