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Released: 1991

Genre: Beat-'em-up

Format reviewed: Arcade

Publisher: Sega

Developer: Sega

Submitted by: Retro Gamer

Being a huge fan of Spider-Man growing up, I would consume any merchandise featuring Marvel’s webslinger I could lay my hands on. Hailing from the seaside town of Portsmouth (home of the planet’s most painful beach), I used to frequent Southsea arcades quite a bit. I seem to remember that platform games had firmly migrated to games consoles and computers, leaving arcades to be filled with two things: racing games and beat-‘em-ups… and it was one of the latter that struck a chord with me, chiefly for featuring Spider-Man in a lead role.

Although it’s called Spider-Man, and its gameplay sees you take on pretty much all of Spidey’s most famous and fearsome adversaries, the game sees him accompanied by three super friends: Black Cat, Sub-Mariner and Hawkeye. Not an official league of heroes, this foursome seemed to be drawn together randomly, and the lesser-billed (and well-known) heroes were simply not as cool or satisfying to play as Spider-Man himself. Sub-Mariner looked like a topless old man, and Hawkeye’s feeble arrows might as well have been Black Cat’s faux-whiskers for all the good they did.

Like other System 32 games, the game made use of sprite-scaling to help garner attention from passers-by – in this instance, using it at points to pan the camera out and transform the game into a side-scrolling run-and-gun game, which plays a little like Strider. Impressive when you see it action, it does a good job of breaking the traditional mould of the beat-‘em-up genre. But it isn’t without problems.

The game suffers from repetition. There are few enemies in the game, and the boss fights are protracted and repeated affairs. The fight against the game’s final boss, Doctor Doom, is hilariously drawn-out; you tussle with him about six times during the last level, and once beaten even then you have to re-face the boss from the first level again – Venom, who then clones himself into about fifty forms. Great.

Still, if you have a soft spot for Spider-Man, it certainly has more fan service to keep you interested than most tie-in arcade titles.

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