tiistai 11. kesäkuuta 2013

REVIEW - Spider-Man / X-Men: Arcade's Revenge | SNES | 1992

GENRE(S): Action
RELEASED: November 1992
DEVELOPER(S): Software Creations, Unexpected Development (GB)

The 100th SNES review! ...And it's only fitting that this milestone for my favourite video game console of all time involves two of my favourite Marvel comics, marking the debut of the X-Men - still a way to go to their first exclusive entry in the marathon - at the same time. ...And, I guess you could call it fitting that this is a game once again financed by my arch nemesis in the business. Spider-Man / X-Men: Arcade's Revenge was the fifth console game based on the X-Men, and the first 16-bit video game installment in the long-running franchise. Although this was his first SNES appearance as well, Spider-Man already had nearly a total of ten games under his belt, and each one of those games - with the exception of Sega's Spider-Man - had failed critically and commercially, especially those financed by LJN. So, I'm willing to bet they considered X-Men the main sales point here, especially since the X-Men animated series had premiered a month prior to the release of the game's first version - which was this one for the SNES. Let's have a look.

X my heart and hope to die

Almost excited.
Cyclops, Wolverine, Gambit and Storm are kidnapped by Arcade, and Spider-Man sets out to rescue the X-Men. He ends up falling into Arcade's trap like the rest of them and fighting for his life in Murderworld.

My first image of this game was something along the lines of RoboCop versus The Terminator; essentially a one man's show, but kinda "reinforced" with another brand, so the game would sell better. That image certainly didn't go away instantly, as the game begins from the abduction of the X-Men, with Spider-Man as the only playable character in a very strange - and dull - game of fetch. Well, then the game truly begins, and you'll be able to choose between Spider-Man and four of my favourite X-Men. Having no idea what this game would be like, I nearly piss my pants in excitement, get myself a cup of coffee and have a smoke before heading into what might be an entertaining game.

Entertaining game, my ass.

First off, the graphics. OK - colour me impressed that there's a specific graphical style, and to some extent, even a specific gameplay style designed for each character. But, what binds all characters is a confusing background design and hectic atmosphere. It's impossible to make out what's going on half the time, and those nice graphical effects - even some Mode 7 there - why are they here? It's like: "look, we invested time and money to make this game look as great as we possibly could". Well, that's great, it really is, but the one thing LJN never got through their tiny little minds is gameplay's importance to the consumer. Besides, the game sounds like ass. The music's better and more diverse than usual, but the sound effects suck, especially the _one single scream_ each guy or gal let out when they die, and Spider-Sense.

What a cheerful chamber of death.
The first level's indeed one strange, effortless run for some collectables I could never really identify. You'll get very familiar with this level if you're even dreaming of beating this heap to the hilt, I assure you. After that, it's your choice. Each character has two different levels for you to complete, and once you're done with every level in the game, you'll supposedly take on Arcade himself, as Spider-Man. Well, as everyone knows, I'm a Wolverine fan to the core, so I practically have no choice but to start out as him. Turns out I'm not too willing to carry on after this shitstorm.

The characters take much more damage from a single blow than it would first seem, and whenever they're hit, there's no invisibility period of any kind - they just stand there, taking constant damage from a rapid-fire source, ultimately dying, and checkpoints are nowhere to be discovered. With this long, boring and confusing level design, that's a fatal mistake from the developers. Collision detection is completely off at the most important of times. The first boss in Wolverine's episode (Apocalypse) is almost impossible to hit without taking some damage yourself. He's fucking enfuriating with his long arms, and Wolverine's surprising inability to do just about anything isn't worth a smile either. You're in for something much worse, and that's where I'll stop - I tried all the different "games", but I think what I'm about to say is quite enough for me to draw a conclusion without further due.

Spot the spikes before the spikes spot you.
Wolverine's second level is a gauntlet run, in which he's supposed to cut down anvils and weights hanging from the ceiling, to drop them down on Juggernaut, who's chasing him. Well, if clowns throwing virtually unavoidable bombs on you half the time isn't enough, the lack of collision detection kicks in just about all the time, preventing you from cutting the ropes, and to survive the level, you've got to keep moving - you simply can't stall because of one setback, 'cause if Juggernaut catches up to you, you're dead. Get this, though: when you reach the end of the level and haven't dropped EACH AND EVERY FUCKING WEIGHT on Juggernaut, he'll catch up to you and headbutt you to death. Well, even if you are somehow able to swallow this crap that ISN'T YOUR FAULT, and willing to try again, you only have as many tries as you have lives left in the counter. There are no continues, and those lives are shared between characters. Lose 'em all, and it's back to the beginning, back to Spidey's stupid game of fetch.

I hope there's some sort of image forming in your head, and I hope it's one of refusal to ever touch this piece of garbage. I'm sorry the 100th SNES review had to end this way, but I guess it couldn't have been avoided with such assholes calling the shots - year after year, game after game, I grow to loathe them more. It's time to take on their last few Spider-Man games, which I used to hold in much higher regard than the rest of their whole catalog - I fear time might've played some tricks on my mind.

+ Good graphics and presentation... again
+ The controls are basically all right this time around

- Unreasonable difficulty, stemming from such things as...
- Half-assed collision detection
- Lack of continues
- Confusing level design
- General inabilities of all characters

< 3.5 >

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