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April 28, 2011
 

The Comics Console: Spider-Man Games Don’t Suck!…For the Most Part Anyway.

Spider-Man has had probably more success in video games than any other comic book superhero. With over 30 years of web-slinging and wall-crawling on home consoles, there have been a lot of hits and misses, some surprises and disappointments, and some dreams and nightmares made reality…but if you don’t like Spider-Man or his video games, then it’s not nearly as dramatic to you. We’re wrapping up our Salute to Spidey, and grading every major Spider-Man title released on consoles. This is the Spider-Man video game report card.

Questprobe #2: Spider-Man (1978)

Publisher/Developer: Adventure International, Scott Adams
Platforms: PC, Commodore 64, Commodore 16, Atari 8-bit, Apple II

I’m actually not sure if I buy Questprobe #2: Spider-Man as an actual video game. I guess technically it is, even if an absoluteley boring one. “Interactive text based adventure” isn’t exactly my idea of a great Spider-Man experience. F


Spider-Man (1982)

Publisher/Developer: Parker Brothers
Platforms: Atari 2600

It’s rough, tedious, ugly, and frustrating as hell, but damn it, it’s a lot more Spider-Man than Questprobe #2. I wasn’t alive in 1982, but I have to imagine that the first time the hardcore Spider-Man reader spun their first web and swung across a building with that clunky Atari joy stink, their minds were nearly blow. But I could be wrong. Even though this game is hard to play in 2011, I think Parker Brothers did okay with the technology available. D+

Spider-Man and Captain America in Doctor Doom’s Revenge (1989)

Publisher: Empire Software
Developer: Paragon Software
Platforms: Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS

One part fighting game, one part side-scroller, all parts garbage. I love the idea of an awesome Cap/Spidey team up, but this game is severely lacking on the awesome. It plays like a slightly more sophisticated Rock-Em-Sock-Em Robots. Lame. D-


Spider-Man: The Video Game (1991)

Publisher/Developer: Sega
Platforms: Arcade

This game is without a doubt the most complete, and most fun Spidey game released at this point, featuring engaging combat, classic villains, and Sub-Mariner, Black Cat, and Hawkeye as playable characters. But it’s hilarious how Spidey walks like an 80-year-old man in this game. Just checkout that super heroic posture! A-


Spider-Man: Return of the Sinister Six (1992)

Publisher: LJN (NES), Flying Edge (Master System)
Developers: Bits Studios
Platforms: NES, Master System

It’s not as pretty as Spider-Man: The Video Game, but it’s much more cute. RotSS is a platformer that offers the same quality Spider-Man experience of web-swinging and beating up classic villains, but with a more chibi look. Either way, it’s another knockout.B+


Spider-Man/X-Men: Arcade’s Revenge (1992)

Publishers: LJN, Flying Edge
Developer: Software Creations
Platforms: SNES, Genesis

It’s always cool when Spidey teams up with the X-Men, and you would think it would be even cooler to experience such an epic team-up in a video game, but then again, you would be wrong. Though Spidey gets top billing, he plays a rather small role in the game with the majority of the levels being taken by the X-Men (Cyclops, Storm, Gambit, and Wolverine). This would be totally fine, however, if the gameplay wasn’t so damn frustrating and generic. D+


The Amazing Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin (1993)

Publisher: Sega
Developer: Technopop
Platforms: Master System, Genesis, SEGA CD

This game had multiple versions on different consoles, but the one to play was on the SEGA CD. The other versions on the Master System and Genesis are basically the same game (a mediocre one), but the SEGA CD version is just prettier, and has an amazing theme song. C-

Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage (1994)

Publisher: LJN
Developer: Software Creations
Platforms: SNES, Genesis

This game was the first to be discussed in our Salute to Spidey series, and the first really good Spider-Man game released. With great web-slinging and wall crawling experiences, fun (if repetitive) action, and tons of cameos from all across the Marvel Universe, Maximum Carnage is just awesome. A-

The Amazing Spider-Man: Lethal Foes (1994)

Publisher/Developer: Epoch Co., Ltd
Platform: Super Famicom

Lethal Foes was released exclusively in Japan, but thanks to the internet, it’s easily accessible to anyone. But it’s probably for the best that this game never hit selves in North America, because it plays essentially like one of the prettier Gameboy/GameGear Spidey games. Not very inspiring. C


Venom/Spider-Man: Separation Anxiety (1995)

Publisher: Acclaim
Developer: Software Creations
Platforms: SNES, Genesis, PC

The Sequel to Maximum Carnage, Separation Anxiety is nearly completely identical to MC, but succeeds where MC fails, and that’s with two player co-op. Though two play capability is what kept MC from being near perfect, there’s just something about this game that doesn’t hold up to its predecessor…but it’s still a great game. A-


Spider-Man: Web of Fire (1996)

Publisher/Developer: SEGA
Platform: SEGA 32X

If you’ve never heard of this game, then you’re not alone. Web of Fire was one of the last games ever released on the short lived SEGA 32X, and while the graphics are pretty, it plays like “Spidey the Hedgehog.” You can web-swing through most levels without beating up a single enemy and get through the game just fine. While it’s not that fun or challenging, if you ever find a copy of Web of Fire, grab it, because it’s a pretty rare find. D


Spider-Man (2000)

Publisher: Activision
Developer: Neversoft
Platforms: PlayStation, N64, Dreamcast, PC

It’s nearly the perfect Spider-Man game…or at least it was in 2000. To this day it’s still a game as amazing as its main character, and one of my personal all-time favorites. A+


Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro (2001)

Publisher: Activision
Developer: Vicarious Visions
Platforms: PlayStation

Sadly, nothing here was elevated from the previous game. It’s basically more Spider-Man, which kind of makes it a terrible sequel, but still not a terrible game. A-

Spider-Man: The Movie (2002)

Publisher: Activision
Developer: Treyarch
Platforms: Xbox, PlayStation 2, GameCube, PC

Don’t let the stigma of being a movie tie-in game fool you! This is the Spider-Man game Enter Electro should have been, and more. And if you can help it, pick up the Xbox version. You’ll be glad you did. A+


Spider-Man 2 (2004)

Publisher: Activision
Developer: Treyarch
Platforms: Xbox, PlayStation 2, GameCube, PC

In my opinion, it may be the best Spider-Man game ever. It all comes down to the experience, and what makes a true Spider-Man experience? No, not the dead girlfriends, imaginary wives, or sexual frustration. It’s the web-swinging! And Spider-Man 2 brings the most realistic web-swinging mechanic we’ve seen, along with duels against Spidey’s greatest villains. It’s just short of perfect. A+


Ultimate Spider-Man (2005)

Publisher: Activision
Developer: Treyarch
Platforms: Xbox, PlayStation 2, GameCube, PC

I really wish more comic book video games followed this game’s example, and pulled their content right from the comics. However, where Ultimate Spider-Man takes a step forward, it takes two steps back. It’s a beautiful looking game with great intentions, but it’s even more repetitive, and in some ways, dumbed down, than its predecessor. B+

Spider-Man 3 (2007)

Publisher: Activision
Developer: Treyarch
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PC

It’s funny…the last few Spider-Man movie tie-in games helped prove that movie tie-in games can be really awesome…then they set themselves back with Spider-Man 3. It’s glitchy, sometimes confusing, and just not as exciting or interesting as previous Spidey games. C

Spider-Man: Friend or Foe (2007)

Publisher: Activision
Developer: Next Level Games, A2M
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii

It’s hard for me to critique games like this that are so garnered toward small children. This game is obviously not as serious or deep a game as Spider-Man: The Movie or Spider-Man 2, but I liken this game to the Lego series, where it’s more just like a celebration of Spidey that allows you to have fun with Spidey’s world. It’s not a great game, but for us comic book fans, it’s still enjoyable to some extent. B


Spider-Man: Web of Shadows (2008)

Publisher: Activision
Developer: Treyarch
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PC

Just don’t play this game. All it is, is a very bad mish-mash of Ultimate Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2. It’s repetitive with recycled missions from every other previous Spidey game, and the very worst part is Peter Parker’s horrible squealing voice throughout the whole damn game. It’s the worst casting of Peter Parker there has ever been. This game sucks! F


Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions (2010)

Publisher: Activision
Developer: Beenox
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii

I appreciate Beenox taking a step back, and rethinking the Spider-Man game, and giving us a more old-school beat-em-up experience, instead of just another empty sandbox game. Though the game was very repetitive, it was nice getting to taste the various versions of Spider-Man, and I’m glad we got all our unlockable costumes back. B+

So that’s three decades worth of Spider-Man games in a nutshell. I’m both excited and afraid of what the future holds for the next generation’s virtual Spidey experience. Spider-Man: Edge of Time is on its way, and looks awesome, but another Spider-Man movie tie-in game makes me very nervous. I just can’t wait to see what that next great Spider-Man title will be, and once again become the web-slinger himself. What’s your favorite Spider-Man game?

For more segments of The Comics Console, click here!

Andrew Hurst
andrewhurst@comicattack.net
@andrewEhurst

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