Tuesday, 17 October 2017

SNES Review 132: Spider-Man and the X-Men in Arcade's Revenge

So here I am looking at a cartridge for the SNES, Two things instantly jump out at me, one is the picture showing Spider Man and the X-men the other is the LJN logo.  Now LJN always gets a bit of a shit kicking from video game reviewers but the truth is it was only published by LJN it was in face made by a company called Software Creations. Software Creations was a video game developer based in Manchester, England they started out in 1987 and they did a fair bit of work based on various licensees but they were also responsible for a few fairly popular original games namely Plok, Solstice and its sequel Equinox. (Plok and Equinox I will most likely return to at a latter date).

So its not like Spider-Man hasn't stared in a whole bunch of games but back when this came out Spider man and the X-men together certainly sounded like a recipe for success. You start the game as Spider-Man and in this first level you have to find and disarm bomb after bomb finding them with help of the onscreen prompts which are basically a visual representation of Spider-Man's spider sense. It needs to be said that these are pretty weird bombs as you have to disarm them in a set order, you might be able to see one right in front of you but if its not flashing you cant do anything to it, and it wont flash until you have collected the one the game wants you to get next. Enemies will attack you and in honesty the jumping feels a lot clumsier than it should all in all this level really feels like a huge chore and seeing as this is the level you will probably find yourself playing the most as you'll need to complete it every time you restart the game you are soon going to learn to hate it. This is a game which I feel really benefits from being played on an emulator with save states and such instead of on the original hardware, I guess this shows that the game really needed a save or password system. You really don't realise how much having to repeatedly play a weak, unfun and frustrating part of a game can sour your experience of the whole thing.

I suppose now I should take a break to look at the games Graphics and Sound. Considering at that time this came out id basically call the graphics passable. Some of the sprites are far to small for my liking, looking at little wolverine he looks like a toy, you can instantly tell who people are and get that comic book thrill don't get me wrong but when I compare it to something like Spider-Man on the Megadrive or the latter Maximum Carnage the graphics here just feel very lacking in general. The music and sound effects are well functional. Some of the stuff on offer is alright you have all the sort of sounds you'd expect but then you also have a lot of annoying rubbish as well the best example that comes to mind is the laughing shouting clown noises in the Wolverine stages there like the video game equivalent of nails on a chalk board. That's all I really have to say here, you need to come to this game for the substance if at all because in my opinion at least the style is seriously lacking.

OK so back to the game itself, once you get past the opening level you get the choice of who you want to play as next, with each character having there own levels to complete. As Spider-Man you will find yourself in levels based on the New York City rooftops. The first Spider-Man stage features N'astirh and Shocker as bosses, with Rhino and Carnage being the ones in the second stage. Storm's levels find her in underwater mazes with a limited air supply, for people who know the character this is great as basically she suffers from claustrophobia so this is essentially seeing her in her worst nightmare.Wolverine's finds himself being in a sort of fun house world and see him coming up against  Apocalypse. One of his levels also sees him being chased by the Juggernaut. Gambit's levels see him being in a cave being chased by a giant spiked ball. Both of Cyclops' levels are set underground on the island of Genosha in the Sentinel mines, if you manage to complete these you will eventually find yourself facing off against Master Mold. To put it simply you get to be a bunch of different characters in a bunch of different environments which is a definite plus point for the game.The thing is if you have just read those names and gotten excited then this will actually help you appreciate the game a little bit more, you see the license is well used with lots of characters appearing and being clearly recognisable and if your a big Marvel fan your love for these characters and there stories might actually pull you through a lot of the frustrating moments that in a unlicensed game might have seen you put the joypad down very quickly.

I guess there is the silver lining that once you have done the first Spider-Man level you get to choose who you are next and therefore what your second and third level will be etcetera. The truth is though that this game is hard, confusing and fiddly. It soon feels like not only will you need a lot of skill to beat the levels you will also need a lot of luck and the patience of a saint.

I purchased this game as I remember having it as a kid, I remember my opinion on it being a rather mixed one back in the day, I did think though that it would be neat to own it again and maybe as an adult I might find it easier to handle or appreciate certain elements of it more than I used to but this has not been the case at all. I think if anything I feel more blah about it now than I ever have and that's why I score it a 4 out of 10. I spent £9 on a boxed American copy and I seriously feel like I got cheated if you want to give this game a try go for a loose cart and even if your the biggest spidey fan in the world don't go over £5 for it, its pretty much worth nothing as anything more than a minor curiosity.

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