perjantai 29. maaliskuuta 2013

REVIEW - The Amazing Spider-Man | PC | 1990

GENRE(S): Action / Puzzle
AVAILABLE ON: Amiga, Atari ST, C64, PC
DEVELOPER(S): Oxford Digital Enterprises, Paragon Software (PC)
PUBLISHER(S): Paragon Software

Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1962, Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man is definitely the most widely known and consistently popular Marvel superhero there ever was. Marvel's very own Batman has starred in an unparalleled amount of 11 animated shows, one live-action TV show preceded by a TV movie, and four big-budget films in the last 11 years, with a fifth one on the way, and finally, nearly 40 video games, counting out guest appearances in just about every Marvel all-star game there ever was. The first one was released on the Atari 2600 in 1982 - and it was also the first video game based on Marvel Comics. The second one was the middle chapter of the Questprobe text adventure trilogy, released on home computers in 1984. The third one was a Marvel crossover entitled The Amazing Spider-Man and Captain America in Dr. Doom's Revenge!, released on home computers in 1989. Then came this next game's turn. There's a whopping total of 17 Spider-Man games for me to review - at this time, anyway; we'll see if the number goes up - so, without further due, let's get started. Here's a DOS-operated ball of dust by the name of The Amazing Spider-Man.

Tingling the senses

Mary Jane's been kidnapped by Mysterio and taken to an abandoned movie studio. Spider-Man has to take on various movie icons and some increasingly random obstacles to get to his loved one.

Ah, Spider-Man. Spider-Man, Spider-Man... friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man... now I'm getting carried away. There was a time I sincerely thought you could put this guy's likeness in anything and I would've loved it. When my interest in Batman waned a little in the mid-90's, not least thanks to a couple of rotten sequels to Tim Burton's fine pair of movies, it was Spider-Man who was there to sling his web at me and pick up the pieces with the strength of one awesome animated series and a bunch of books my stepfather bought me from a local antiquarian. One of those books was The Amazing Spider-Man, issue #299 from 1988, which is historical for introducing the world to one of the most sinister, persistent supervillains ever created, a bad motherfucker known as Venom. To me, Spider-Man and Venom were the Batman and Joker of the Marvel universe, but they didn't even have to be enemies to impress me. I dug the few concepts where they actually formed an uneasy alliance to take something even more sinister down - like Carnage. They made a game out of this in 1994, mind you - and it's on the list. Can't wait for that one.

It's always about the damsel.
Well, actually I do remember this game. When I was in the first grade, one of my best friends - I have no idea what happened to that guy - had one impressive collection of Commodore 64 games. No, I couldn't find him on Facebook, which means he's probably dead. His dad was a nerd who worked at a computer maintenance store, if my memory serves me right, so some of them might've been his games for all I know. Anyway, that's when I first caught a glimpse of this game - more than a decade passed before I played another Spider-Man game. Did it scare me off or something? Probably, but I can't be sure before I try it.

Speaking of actualities, actually The Amazing Spider-Man is a surprisingly decent, innovative game for an old DOS title. It has many severe flaws, but in all seriousness, I was perfectly ready to have seen all there is to see in just a matter of minutes. I got stuck on the game for hours - and felt the consequences in my bones, literally, 'cause the controls are just off-the-charts awful. But, just seeing what they were at least trying to accomplish, at that day and age... it's pretty impressive, seriously. Besides, The Amazing Spider-Man isn't a beat 'em up or a platformer, it's essentially a puzzle game that kind of resembles Solomon's Key on the surface, but doesn't really have any strict point of comparison. That's something, am I right?

As Spider-Man, you are to make it through puzzle rooms with switches all around the walls, and push these switches in the correct order to open up a path and advance to the next room. Usually, there's an enemy or a few of them in your way, who you can temporarily incapacitate with a web shot - you can't kill any of them, at least not by any direct means, and you have no other attacks. Spider-Man can climb any horizontal or vertical surface, and the hallways in the game are extremely narrow, so you can just imagine that guiding him through them is like trying to control a basketball gone rogue. He likes to get stuck in an all-fours position which prevents him from shooting webs, all of the time. For such a stubborn fellow himself, he's merciless when it comes to presses of the wrong directional button while climbing - every time you climb around a corner, say, one which goes left, up and right, you have to press both up and right at the exact right time, or Spidey goes crashing down like a retard. And I mean it - his movement really looks retarded altogether.

R2-D2 has something against me.
Like I said, though - The Amazing Spider-Man is different, and it is a more entertaining game than 90% of licensed DOS games of its time. And, it looks awesome. The intro in its very authentic comic book-style is a pleasure to see through, and it's a hoot - ridiculous, yet fun - to spot familiar movie "stars" such as R2-D2 and a guy who looks very much like RoboCop for enemies from the beginning of the game. It also sports a "save system" quite rare in an arcade-style DOS game; make no mistake about it, you'll have to beat this in one sitting, but there are a few save rooms which check your progress over the course of that one session, preventing you from having to start the whole thing all over again once you die. You will die, with these controls - as easy as the game might strike you at first. It ain't a very long game, as you will see if you get stuck with it like I did.

The Amazing Spider-Man is a fairly good game, seriously - colour me positively surprised - but, a pretty big deal of my sudden warmth towards it is because games of its generation and platform haven't made much of an impression on me during my adult years. Especially licensed games. Ironically, I hated this one as a kid - too difficult to play and understand, I presume. It's still difficult to play, but for other reasons - worse reasons.

+ Unique gameplay
+ The graphics are quite all right in general, and the intro sequence looks awesome

- Simple, yet shitty controls
- Just one song plays throughout the whole thing, from the title screen to the end

< 6.9 >

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