tiistai 9. heinäkuuta 2013

REVIEW - Venom / Spider-Man: Separation Anxiety | SNES | 1995

GENRE(S): Action / Fighting
RELEASED: November 1995
DEVELOPER(S): Software Creations
PUBLISHER(S): Acclaim Entertainment

1995 - what a great year for gamers and Spider-Man fans alike. Spider-Man - The Animated Series had spread like wildfire across the globe just as expected after the success of DC's award-winning Batman series; Spider-Man comic books and merchandise sold better than in years, perhaps ever. Gamers rejoiced when LJN was officially merged into Acclaim Entertainment, and this merge resulted in some honestly good licensed games, like Stargate. 1995 was also the SNES' final stand; games were made right up 'til 1997, and 1996 sure had its share of great SNES releases, but if I had to point out the greatest overall year the SNES ever had, it's 1995. Chrono Trigger, Yoshi's Island and Diddy's Kong Quest made it at least the most magical SNES year since the console's international launch in 1991. In the final days of the SNES, in the midst of the Spider-Man heat, Acclaim put out a sequel to 1994's Maximum Carnage, named Separation Anxiety after a Venom series of the same name, and based on a Venom series called... Lethal Protector. That's a little bit confusing, but it's a sequel to a quite decent game, and it's at least supposed to star my favourite Marvel villain, so basically I have no choice but to take the game out for a spin.


I thought I was.
Venom and Spider-Man finally reach an agreement, and Venom moves to San Francisco to live on as Eddie Brock and keep his symbiote at bay to the best of his abilities. He soon becomes the target of the psychopathic Carnage and five other offspring of his symbiote, as well as a group of mercenaries calling themselves the Jury. Well aware of the impossibility of the challenge laid before him, he reluctantly asks for Spider-Man's help.

I pitted yesterday's sequels against today's sequels against each other, not so long ago - in fact, I must've been reviewing a Spider-Man game. I think I can count failed sequels from this generation with my fingers, while two decades ago sequels went both ways all the time. I can't say I never heard about this game, but what I can say is that I never a read a review of the game, and thus it didn't make much of an impact on me, even though I was a huge Spider-Man fan at the time. I had never played Maximum Carnage at the time, either, but I knew how the game looked like and I was dying to try that out, even though the review wasn't that flattering. The only Separation Anxiety preview I ever caught a glimpse of only mentioned Spider-Man, not Venom, and even less the fact that Venom actually starred in this game instead of Spider-Man. When I read about this game a couple of years ago, I found out that Venom stars in the game and that it's actually a direct sequel to Maximum Carnage. That's when curiosity hit, big time, and after finally getting to play Maximum Carnage and finding it quite decent, I hoped for the best. This is how it turned out.

I've seen this before.
You just know. You know from the first moments you slap this one in, that it ain't going to be close to Maximum Carnage in quality. The soundtrack is basically quite good, but its style is quite different - actually, I can't figure out where they were going with it. What genre is this sound salad supposed to represent? The next thing you'll notice is that the awesome comic book cutscenes that marked the first game are gone and replaced with long-ass text. And the next thing... well... is the presentation in general. Even though Venom is by all means the main character of the game, I think the developers thought it was best for their wallets to promote Spider-Man to the lead. Virtually all the text is about Venom, and you are given the choice to play as either Spider-Man or Venom from the very first level onward, but Venom is constantly billed second, and in-game, his HUD is placed in the Player 2 slot, even if you're playing alone. No break for Brock.

The gameplay's virtually identical to the gameplay of Maximum Carnage, and while there's a certain light side to that statement, it has a whole bulk of dark ones. It's not only the fluid controls that pay respect to Maximum Carnage, it's also the complete inability to block enemy attacks, and the level design is almost exactly the same, not to mention character design - they're recycled with minimal effort. In-game graphics might be just a tad better, but seriously, you wouldn't know the difference between Level 1 in Maximum Carnage and Level 1 in Separation Anxiety by a quick glance.

What the hell am I doing in the Technodrome?
If you found Maximum Carnage unreasonably hard, try Separation Anxiety on for a size: the characters are WEAK (Venom's the more enduring one, but he's slow and stiff) and apparently, the developers took heed of people's criticism of having just one continue... by removing continues altogether!!! Remember, you cannot block - I still don't know what the fuck was so hard to add in this very basic feature. Oh well, it wouldn't matter much, 'cause this time, some of these fuckers have guns. And, in the later levels, you will also have to deal with robots with a whole array of tools for ranged combat. What do you have? Unlimited (symbiotic) webbing, which does not directly harm enemies, and standing in for a blocking ability, a "web shield" that only covers one side and apparently does not work against projectiles. Feeling helpless yet? You will.

The last soaking wet piece of crap I'll throw at this game and its makers is the promotion of Spider-Man; I haven't quite finished with it yet. A game that's supposed to star Venom feels quite weird to play when it's the other playable character that simply is better, by all means except for his inferior health. Venom's what drew me to this game, and playing as him from the beginning was what I thought to raise this game even above Maximum Carnage. That's what I expected, a game at least equal to its predecessor, not a wholly watered-down bundle of badly recycled fluff, but that's exactly what I got. What a shame.

+ Looks and sounds good, but so did the last one; no real improvement here, and no GJ to provide the music
+ The controls... yep, _still_ good...

- ...But where the hell is the block button?
- Spider-Man's sticking his nose too deep
- Pathetic health, totally unfair combat situations (such as thugs with guns, and robots), long and repetitive levels, no continues... get a picture of how unreasonable the game is, already?
- Every remotely good thing about it is ripped straight off Maximum Carnage
- Extremely lacking presentation in comparison to the previous game

< 5.5 >

Ei kommentteja:

Lähetä kommentti