Genre: Action Developer: Western Technologies Inc. Publisher: Acclaim Players: 1 Released: 1993
Spider-Man has seen a lot of action on the Genesis. First was way back towards the beginning of the console’s lifecycle with Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin, which for all intents and purposes was also the best appearance of the popular Marvel character on Sega’s 16-bit juggernaut. Following titles, Spider-Man/X-Men: Arcade’s Revenge, Maximum Carnage, and Separation Anxiety would be published through Acclaim and ranged in terms of quality (on a scale from being bad to tolerable), leading up to this action/platformer based on the popular Fox cartoon iteration of the wall-crawler. Spider-Man: The Animated Series follows Spidey throughout six levels and features a bevy of villains as well, but the result sadly proves to be a tiresome bore.
First off, the game looks and plays similar to an earlier Acclaim title based on a popular Marvel character: Wolverine: Adamantium Rage. You run, crawl, swing (barely), and punch your way through a laboratory, a construction site, and more typical stock types of levels, but chances are you won’t get too far due to the fact that the game is just plain boring. Take that as well as some confusing level design into play, and you’ll find yourself spending more time backtracking your way to make sense of just where you’re supposed to go in the first place. Graphically speaking, the game doesn’t look bad, but it doesn’t do much to excite either.
Assisting you on your quest are all four members of the Fantastic Four. Yes, Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, the Human Torch, and the clobberin’ Thing are all here to lend you a hand at certain points, but they don’t really add much to the proceedings. The real attraction here is the assortment of villains that appear throughout the game. We’ve got Venom, Doctor Octopus, Lizard, Green Goblin, Scorpion, Chameleon, Vulture, Rhino, Shocker, Mysterio, Owl, Hammerhead, Beetle, Jack O’ Lantern, and more; besides, and they’re all pretty challenging as well. However, the challenge really comes from the fact that the game’s controls are so delayed that you can actually count about a second or two from the time you press the action button to the time the action is actually performed in the game. That, combined with the fact that a majority of the aforementioned bosses use some real cheap tactics, and the overall challenge really comes down to the game just being somewhat defective by design.
Also, and this is more of a personal gripe to be honest, but of all the allies Spider-Man could possibly have, why does it have to be the Fantastic Four? I can only remember them guest-starring on the cartoon during the whole “Secret War” arc, but why couldn’t we have had anyone else instead? Spidey already had Captain America, the X-Men, Ghost Rider, and a couple more heroes as back-up in his previous games, but why not include some of his allies from the cartoon that never made it into a Spider-Man video game before like the Punisher, Blade, or Daredevil? Maybe Acclaim wanted to test the waters for a Fantastic Four game for the 16-bit era? Who knows? It did release a Fantastic Four game for the PlayStation though only a year or two later, but I digress.
What’s most surprising about Spider-Man: The Animated Series however is that the game is actually sort of well-revered by gamers. Granted that Maximum Carnage was too, but I can understand the appeal with that game because it actually did offer a somewhat entertaining, button-mashing Street of Rage-style rip-off affair. This game offers cheap enemies, broken jumping and platforming mechanics (some of the jumps are just plain ridiculous and annoying to try to make. Think of some of the worst jumps that the old Castlevania games offered to get an idea) and some cruddy level design as well. Why would something like that be so revered I ask? Maybe I’m just terrible at playing it, and if that’s the case, than nothing has changed from the time when I was eleven and popped this in my Genesis for the first time until now.
All things considered, Spider-Man: The Animated Series isn’t abysmal, and you’ll definitely find and play worse licensed games on the Genesis than what you find here. Still, it doesn’t offer much in terms of playability or even having much fun either. Do yourself a favor, if you’re a Genesis-owning Spider-Man fan, track down Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin instead, or even Maximum Carnage. Either one of those offer a much better take on the Spider-Man universe than this game ever could or ever will.
SCORE: 4 out of 10