Title: Spider-Man & Venom: Maximum Carnage
Platform: Super Nintendo
Publisher: Acclaim Entertainment
Developer: Software Creations / Acclaim Black Team
Release Date: 1994
By 1994 the Super Nintendo was well in its element. The machine had been doing the rounds since 1990 in Japan under the Super Famicom moniker, and developers had 4 years’ worth of time to get to know the machine’s ins and outs. The result was some truly mind-blowing games. Comic book films were garnering ever more interest (in the 90’s at least) thanks to Tim Burton’s phenomenal Batman, and gaming was fast becoming one of the most lucrative markets, as most gamers at that time would in some way or another know, or be familiar with comic book characters.
Spider-Man & Venom: Maximum carnage is based on (at least in name) the fourteen-part comic book crossover story arc from 1993 in which Spidey teams up with Venom in order to deal with Carnage, who has become a bit too big for his boots.
My first impression of the game was a resounding WOW! Graphically, it’s a very impressive opening, starting with some awesome comic book cut-scenes that continue between levels and in game. The sprites on display are quite funky, with visuals looking like they have been draw in ink. As an added touch, some cool “BOK!” and “THWACK!” effects flash up when you tear into enemies with your fists. On closer inspection though the in-game graphics are actually pretty bad. Aside from Spidey, who has some nice frames of animation, the majority of characters are terribly bland, looking more like 8-bit sprites. The backgrounds, too, are woefully flat and boring, bringing no life to the overall aesthetic. Animation is passable for the most part, but is far from spectacular either.
The sound in general consists of monotonously annoying music by American rock band Green Jelly (who are rubbish, by the way!), which begins as soon as the game is loaded, sounding like something a 13 year old Metallica fan who has just got his first guitar would play…but in MIDI! The sound effects are decent enough, but it’s hardly a sonic feast.
Gameplay-wise it’s all much of a muchness, and S&V:MC is nothing more than a sub-par scrolling beat ’em up, a genre that the Super Nintendo is definitely NOT short of. The game plays smoothly enough and does offer some fun for a time, but it’s not a patch on Final Fight or even some of the lesser names in the genre, and you end up with a distinct impression of ‘Seen it all before!’. Even some of the moves have been lifted straight from Capcom’s famous scroller, and the fact that the game doesn’t even have a simultaneous two player mode is a poor show indeed. Ultimately, the game wallows in mediocrity, and looks like a truly terrible cosplay to boot.
Potentially, this game could have been amazing, as it DOES have a decent atmosphere to it and that’s a hard thing get right, but it’s nothing more than a lazy run-of-the-mill brawler, that encourages, nay invites boredom to set in quite quickly. Had they included a detective element, and perhaps a bit of brain-twisting platform action in addition to the fighting, it might have been a hit. As it stands, it’s a boring button masher that won’t last beyond few turns, unless you really want to see the other characters in the game. There’s perhaps no more motivation than that to continue playing.
I was surprised when I saw that Acclaim had released this title, as they are responsible for some excellent games, particularly on the NES, but then I saw the dreaded LJN logo spring up and that always means trouble (check out The Angry Video Game Nerd’s views on LJN on YouTube to see what I mean!). Sorely disappointing stuff.
The writer of this piece was: Alan Stares
Alan is a sound engineer, retro gamer, and general all-round geek from Glasgow. You can read more of his thoughts on a range of topics at ‘The Scots Perspective‘ and on retro gaming at ‘The Old Oilhouse‘.