To say that the character of Iron Man has not achieved the level of success in the video game world as he has in Hollywood would be a hilarious under statement. In the film world, the Iron Man series has grossed over a billion dollars in box-office sales, and the character was part of the ensemble film The Avengers. In games, he starred in a Game Boy Advance game and teamed up with…X-O Manowar. While we wait for game companies to wise up and give us the Iron Man game we know we all deserve, let’s countdown the top ten Iron Man games.
10) IRON MAN/X-O MANOWAR IN HEAVY METAL (PSOne)
Iron Man had been featured in games before the release of Heavy Metal, but this was the first time his name was in the marquee. Unfortunately for the character, it also marks one of the low points in his video game carrier. This was an early effort on Sony’s brand new at the time PlayStation that somehow looked and played worse than games being sold on the SNES. The game also failed to utilize the memory card save feature, forcing players to write down insanely large passwords. Worst yet, another version of the game arrived on a system that was exponentially under-powered, and somehow managed to turn out better.
9) IRON MAN/X-O MANOWAR IN HEAVY METAL (GAME BOY)
The Game Boy version of Heavy Metal is in many ways better than its big brother on the PSOne, though the bar was not set very high. The passwords are much smaller and easy to write down, and the game plays better as well despite having only two buttons. Heavy Metal still suffers from a lot of the problems found on the PSOne game, including long and unfairly difficult levels. Without knowing that this is an Iron Man game, you also wouldn’t be able to tell from the poor in-game character model.
8) IRON MAN (Wii/PS2/PSP)
Iron Man on the then current generation consoles took a beating from critics, but it’s leaps and bounds over the versions found on these three systems. Of the three, the PS2 version fairs best, as it suffers from neither awkward melee motion controls nor the PSP’s face button camera manipulation. Still, the game is graphically underwhelming on all accounts, is a tad on the easy side and is also a boring slog to play through. Though in this games defense, it has THE single best opening level of any game on this list.
7) IRON MAN 2 (Wii/PSP)
The sequel to Iron Man on the Wii/PSP are a step above their respective predecessors, mainly in the control department as the Wii game does away with the baffling melee/camera control mapped to motion, and the PSP game is a respectable translation from the Wii game. Iron Man 2 is still at best an average game that is not the worst thing you’ll eve play, but nothing that you should actively hunt down either.
6) IRON MAN 2 (XBOX 360)
Secret Level Games, renamed Sega Studios San Franciso, set out to right the wrongs they did in the original Iron Man movie game with this sequel, but despite having comics writer Matt Fraction along for the ride to pen the story, the game turned out worse. The levels are more restricted and linear compared to the first, the upgrade system is confusing to the point that you’re unsure whether or not you’ve even upgraded at all and the game is even shorter. The best compliment I can give the game is that it features the iconic “hum” power up from the character’s repulsors. This game gives you two Iron Men for the price of one, but two times 0 is still zero.
5) IRON MAN (PS3/XBOX 360)
Sega’s first Iron Man was not loved by gamers or critics, but I still stand firm that there’s some fun to be had in this game. The power up system, wherein you can allocate your powers on the fly, creates an authentic Iron Man experience, and it’s a lot of fun to boost around the rather open level maps. The game does have issues: a short play length and a frustrating protection mission towards the end, but any Iron Man fan who can find this on the cheap should give it a whirl, at least on the easy difficulty.
4) IRON MAN 3 (MOBILE)
I’m not a huge fan of mobile games, worst of all free-to-play mobile games, yet last summer I played an unhealthy amount of this game. Developer Gameloft has a history with making super hero movie tie-in games, a lot that try to incorporate awkward touch screen controls, but the choice to turn Iron Man 3 into an endless runner game with minimal controls was an excellent choice. Not only did it make the game easier to play, but it wasn’t entirely out of character for the hero as well. I also appreciate how they managed to throw in a story to make the endless grind more bearable then a lot of other games in the genre. Don’t expect to get to play as any of the suits from the movie, that is unless you have 1,000,000 hours to spare or like to throw down money on virtual Iron Man suits.
3) IRON MAN 2 (NINTENDO DS)
A more appropriate name for this game would be “War Marchine,” as he manages to steal the show from the title character in the best version of Iron Man 2. Both characters are playable in every single version of Iron Man 2, yet in this game, the two feel the most unique: Iron Man is nimble in movement, while War Machine is bulky but incredibly powerful. They’re also differentiated in the way they control: Iron Man plays traditionally with buttons while War Machine has an intuitive d-pad movement/touch screen attack interface. Like other Griptontie developed super hero movie tie-ins, this is an okay 2-D action game, but it’s still way more fun all the other versions.
2) IRON MAN (NINTENDO DS)
Iron Man 2 took a page from the original Iron Man on DS’s playbook by being the best of the bunch. Playing like a twin stick shooter a la Geometry Wars or Smash TV where you aim on the touch screen and move with the directional pad, this game is as woefully overlooked as is it short. I really wish that someone would resurrect this idea for a download game on either PC or consoles. For maximum comfort, I recommended playing on the 3DS as movement with the slide pad feels much more comfortable than moving with the d-Pad.
1) THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN (GAME BOY ADVANCE)
Although I would like nothing more than there to be a superb Iron Man game on a home console, history has proven that when it comes to Iron Man games, the character is more at home on a handheld. This marked the first time that Iron Man received top billing, and after having numerous games released since this one, no one has managed to top its quality. Excellent sprite work combined with a fidelity of controls not unlike Capcom’s MegaMan X series, the biggest flaw here, that I’m seeing is a trend actually, is that this game is far too short. Iron Man fans or anyone who likes solid 2-D action games, don’t let this one pass you by.