Don’t get me wrong, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is amazing, and hasn’t even left the disc-tray of my Xbox 360 in a month, but even the hugest of fans can eventually get sick of any game, and that’s where I am with MvC3. Luckily, 2011 is a year filled with awesome looking superhero games, and I’m so ready for the next big comic book game, Thor: God of Thunder (even if SEGA turns it into a fat Asgardian dump like they did with the Iron Man series). Sadly, we still have about another six weeks until the God of Thunder’s movie tie-in drops, so how does a comic book nerd occupy their time when their Wednesday reading list is finished? I guess I could go back to MvC3, but I’d much rather play some classics! More specifically, Spider-Man classics!
Spider-Man is unique in the video game/comic book relationship for one reason: he’s the only comic book character to have many good video games based after him, instead of just one or two. Yes, not all have been great – some really bad – but over the next six weeks we’re going to play the very best Spider-Man games in the character’s 30+ year video game career, starting with a personal favorite of mine.
Developer: Software Creations
Released: Nov. 24, 1994
Platforms: SEGA Genesis, Super Nintendo
The title of this game should sound very familiar. This is one of the earliest games to be based directly on an actual comic book story line, “Maximum Carnage,” the 14-part story crossing over into all the Spidey books in 1993. The game adapts the comics very well with beautifully animated comic panels pulled right from the pages of Amazing Spider-Man, so you don’t have to have already read the comics to get into the game.
Like most 2D beat-em-ups, Maximum Carnage is a knock off of the standards Final Fight and Streets of Rage. This is rarely ever a bad thing since how fun the gameplay is in a game like this is the final measuring stick, and what better games to rip-off than the really fun ones? But there’s one thing that Cody and Adam didn’t have that sets this game apart…WEB SHOOTERS! This was about as close to actually being Spider-Man as a kid could get in 1994, and it was amazing.
The first level is pretty basic. You have identical enemies to pound, some garbage cans, and stacks of newspapers to throw around (because you know how hazardous paper cuts and ink stains are to gangsters), and hearts for life to pick up. But it’s the second stage that was not only an authentic feeling Spider-Man experience, but pretty damn hard if you weren’t careful. In this stage you have to climb a building while web swinging and wall crawling to avoid beams of energy coming from above you. Thankfully, you have your Spidey sense to help guide you, but it wont help you from not crapping your pants when Doppelganger wall-crawls toward you at super speed to screw you over.
As with any beat-em-up, repetition is an issue, and MC is no exception to this. It probably wouldn’t be so bad if we had more diverse enemies. Through the whole game, you beat up the same five or six identical thugs, which gets boring, however, a very nice change of pace is the option of playing as Venom halfway through the game. Venom essentially plays similar to Spider-Man, but with a different style. Also, choosing Venom puts you on a different path than Spider-Man. With Venom, you walk the streets of San Fransisco, but somehow you’re fighting all the same thugs from New York. Continuing the game as Spider-Man matches you with Demogoblin in a pretty cool boss fight. So you actually have a bit of replayability with this game, which is very cool.
While it is cool to have the option of playing as either Venom or Spidey, I think the developer’s biggest mistake was not making the game co-op. Being able to play as both Peter and Eddie along with a friend would make the repetition more bearable, plus it just seems natural if you’re featuring two main characters. But Spidey and Venom aren’t the only two heroes at your disposal; there are a bunch of cameos by other Marvel heroes like Captain America, Cloak and Dagger, Black Cat, and others, with the aforementioned characters acting as support for when your screen gets full with too many enemies to handle.
What little music there is in the game is pretty cool, though just as repetitive as the gameplay, but my attention through the whole game was drawn to how great the graphics and setting are. I particularly enjoyed, yet also hated, the Baxter Building level for how great it looked, and how damn hard it was. Actually, all the later levels were very difficult, and those support characters really come in handy.
Maximum Carnage is by no means the best Spider-Man video game by today’s standards with modern technology giving us Spidey games like Ultimate Spider-Man, but it’s definitely in the circle of all time best, and a bright childhood memory of mine. If you like old games and you’re a fan of Web-Head, this game is absolutely worth your time…if you have the patience for how hard it gets.
Next week on the The Comics Console, we’re playing Spider-Man for the PSOne, N64, and Dreamcast!
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