The holiday season is once again upon us. This year, I’ll be bundled up inside, by the warm glow of my television set waiting for a visit from one of my favorite persons wearing red: Carnage! Among my favorite villains ever, Carnage ranks pretty high (possibly even number one). His complete disregard for life, desire for chaos, lack of humanity and powers that can rival one of the greatest super heroes of all time makes him a force you surely don’t want to go up against. And when it comes to Carnage, one story always comes up that is said to demonstrate what he is all about: the 14 part series Maximum Carnage, where he pushes Spider-man to his limits as a hero. Or so I’ve heard, I haven’t read it myself, but I have played the video game Spider-man and Venom: Maximum Carnage, available for the Sega Genesis, but I’ll be talking about the version given to me as a gift, the one on the Super Nintendo.
Since it’s the first thing you’ll see in the game (and since I just played a clip from the song) it’s worth starting off by mentioning that the sound track was composed by the metal/rock band Green Jelly (and yes, it’s pronounced JELL-O; the umlaut makes the Y sound like an O. If Ke$ha’s dollar sign can be pronounced like an S, we can grasp this concept). This gives most of the music a pretty “hard core” feel, and for want of a better term, it sounds so “90’s”. Of course since the technology of the time wouldn’t allow for recorded music, we get computerized versions. The down sampling is obvious, but not enough to ruin it. As for the other sounds, they vary. Some of them boarder on stock, some of them are too goofy and some are 100% satisfying (I really do like the punching noises).
I also like the graphics too. They keep them comic book style, but not cartoon like and silly. I think I’ve said before it’s easy to make Spidey look too buff or too lanky, but here the balance is good (maybe a bit too many details around the pecks). The other licensed characters are done in this same “that IS what they should look like” manner. Obviously nothing is uniquely interpreted, which is good because this is based off the comic and should reflect what it contained. Speaking of which, this game has cut scenes directly redrawn from the comic panels and… I like don’t like them. They look authentic I suppose, but also flat and really pixelated. It’s nice that they tried though.
The game play is pretty much your standard brawler, with a few extra spidey skills thrown in. You’ll walk through areas and fight generic, pallet swapped bad guys with names like Bret or Billy. Who, with the hair, looks like Billy Bob Thornton? *Clip* How so? *clip* Okay, well sorry. Anyways, you can punch, block and jump like in any game, but you can also climb walls to attack from them or hide or use your web to swing into enemies, grab them from a far or tie them up.
Unfortunately, this game is only one player for some reason despite having two protagonists. I think it might have been to keep in line with the original story, but again, I haven’t read it yet. As fun as this game is, I could only imagine it would be a lot more fun if it was multiplayer. It would also be a lot easier because I found this game hard, almost up there with Double Dragon NES. There are secret recovery items, lives, assists and continues that you can find throughout the game to help you out though. Personally I had to find them all to be able to get a shot at finishing this, because this game makes you earn your fight with one of the best villains ever.
Spider-man and Venom: Maximum Carnage is a surprisingly good game. It’s fast paced, offers a challenge that will make you want to find all the secrets and its simple, classic, beat-em-up fun. Being a direct adaptation of a story many people have enjoyed probably helps too. However, it’s worth mentioning that this isn’t a perfect game, and I’ve had people with legitimate complaints explain to me why they don’t like it: there is no two player mode, there isn’t enough variety among the super villains (though this was to keep it as close to the original story as possible), Spider-man being beaten up by random thugs is not something you want to see and the game can be too hard, with no save features, passwords or option to change the difficulty. However, I still say that none of these things ruin the game for me at all. This really is a title worth checking out, brought to us by developer Software Creations and published by… LJN?! They made a game that’s not just ok, but really good? Who knew that was possible? Anyways, I give Spider-man and Venom: Maximum Carnage for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System 9 levels out of 10.