The iconic comic book character and oft-villain Venom has made more than a few appearances in videogames over the years. Several in fact. The Marvel character, who made his alien viral symbiote debut all the way back in 1988, forever changing journalist Eddie Brock, has had an interactive career that spans almost as far back. To the black-and-white coloured days of the Nintendo Game Boy circa 1990.
Which, in a way, is fitting considering the character’s menacing and iconic two-tone look. With the most recent version of the character found in the home release of VENOM - which is available now on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital - we’ve decided to look back at Venom in videogames. In a Best-Of compilation of (mostly) player-controlled Venom. Which means we won't be touching the Game Boy version of videogame Venom, on the account of it, well, not being a very good game. With Venom only making the briefest of cameos too.
And so, with that out of the way, let’s get to it.
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (2006) / Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 (2009)
PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
This spiritual successor to the X-Men Legends series of videogames, which presented an action-RPG romp through the land of Marvel, offered players a wealth of iconic comic book characters to take direct control of. And naturally, one of those was Venom. With abilities and attacks and even animation based on the character’s numerous comic book appearances - the fast, fluid movement of Venom made the character a go-to favourite for many who played the game. And its sequel. All of Venom’s abilities were based off of the original liquid-like form of the character, with ‘Symbiote Flail’ living up to its namesake, shooting out tendrils in all directions to hit enemies.
Spider-Man & Venom: Maximum Carnage (1994)
Super Nintendo, Mega Drive
The 16-bit era of the 1990s, both in the arcade and at home, was host to many a beat-em up. That being a side-scrolling action game where you moved characters from left to right and, well, beat up enemies along the way. Spider-Man & Venom: Maximum Carnage was a game in this style but as it was also based on the Marvel comic series of the same name. It offered up a world where players could witness Spider-Man, Venom, and extended Marvel Universe heroes like Captain America, Black Cat, and Iron Fist fighting together against a common enemy. Seen as a villain up to this point, Maximum Carnage also has the distinction of presenting the first real anti-hero version of the Venom character to audiences the world over.
Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes (2000)
Arcade, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2
When creators of the popular Street Fighter franchise, Capcom, began its long-running partnership with Marvel, it did so in the most comic book way possible - a crossover event! Marvel vs. Capcom was a new fighting game series from the studio that pitted Street Fighter veterans like Ryu and Ken against numerous Marvel superheroes and villains; including Wolverine, Cyclops, and of course, Venom. Created during the height of the 2D sprite-based Street Fighter-era, watching something like Marvel vs. Capcom 2 in action is kind of like watching a comic book come to life. A sentiment that makes perfect sense thanks to the liquid-like movement of Venom. With Capcom making full use of the character’s expressive face, eyes, teeth and tongue (thanks, Erik Larson) as he splashes and dives around the screen like an angry waterfall - this was without a doubt the most impressive videogame version of the character to-date.
Lego Marvel Superheroes (2013)
PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
Traveller's Tales has been making licensed Lego games for about as long as we can remember. Possibly even longer than that. So really, it was only a matter of time before the studio tackled Marvel comics and superheroes. And when they finally did, they did so in style - with 180 characters from the Marvel universe all Lego-fied in Lego Marvel Superheroes. And as fun and engaging as the action-packed gameplay can be, getting to see iconic Marvel characters realised in Lego form was worth the price of admission. Something that probably played a role in it becoming the best-selling Lego game of all time shortly after release. As much as the development team tried to retain the gritty and menacing anti-hero vibe of Venom, there’s no denying that Lego Venom as depicted here is cute.
PlayStation, Nintendo 64, PC
Venom first made his on-page appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man #300 way back in May 1988, as a strange new villain of alien origin for Spider-Man to tackle. And so, it makes sense that Venom would make an appearance at one point or another in the interactive adventures of Spider-Man. As a villain. As one of the first videogames with full 3D graphics to feature the famous web-slinger, Venom was chosen to play a pivotal role as one of the key villains that players would have to face. Which makes this videogame Venom the only title in this list where players can’t control the character. Instead this is Venom as that videogame thing we’ve all come to know of as - ‘a boss’.
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite (2017)
PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
A decade in videogames is just about an eternity, thanks in part to advances in technology that results in visuals that keep getting better and better as each year passes. The huge time-jump between this and the other Marvel vs. Capcom title in this list means two very different looking fighting games. And by that token, two very different videogame Venoms. Not only does the more advanced and impressive 3D engine of Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite offer a more impressive and cinematic presentation than Marvel vs. Capcom 2, but we also get to see the fruits of Capcom fully leveraging the still ongoing comic book history of the character. The result is perhaps the most faithful videogame Venom to date. Menacing, dangerous, fun, and irresistible.