RELEASED: September 1994
AVAILABLE ON: GEN, SNES
DEVELOPER(S): Software Creations
PUBLISHER(S): Acclaim Entertainment (GEN), LJN (SNES)
In 1994, Spider-Man swung onto the screen in a 16-bit game called Spider-Man / Venom: Maximum Carnage. Now let's look at it: the cartridge was blood red. A New York-based rock band named Green Jellÿ - that at one time featured current members of Tool - was hired to do the soundtrack, and a licensed soundtrack at that time was completely unheard of in a console-exclusive game. The title of the game itself told stories: it was to star both Spider-Man and Venom in hunt of their insane arch nemesis Carnage, another victim of the alien symbiote that originally turned Eddie Brock into Venom. Everything about this game sounded awesome. Then LJN was confirmed to publish the SNES version, and the light at the end of the tunnel just went out. Well, despite the fall of darkness, I went and tried the game. To my complete and utter surprise, I liked the game, but that was years ago - I could've just been glad to find ONE half-decent Spider-Man game. How about now? ...Honestly? If you're into arcade-style beat 'em up and some truly well presented comic book action, Maximum Carnage might honestly tingle your senses and do it good. Maximum Carnage might well be the best game LJN ever laid their hands on.
Sticking to the basics and doing it well
|What a kick-off.|
I must say that when Maximum Carnage came out, I didn't pay too much attention to who made the game - to be even more precise, I didn't really have an opinion on LJN as I was just a kid and my experience with video games was limited to what my mom could afford, plus what she could even find. I was in love with Spider-Man at the time the game was reviewed in my favourite magazine, and I think it was around the same time as the awesome animated series premiered on Finnish TV. Spider-Man was the shit back at the time Batman had taken a dive into a pile of literal shit. Venom was probably the coolest villain ever, right after the Joker's best days of course. So this game Maximum Carnage got a crappy review from a magazine that had a tendency of rating every game they perceived half-decent, over 80; Maximum Carnage got under 70 points out of 100, which basically meant the game sucked, but since it had so many fine artificial qualities, they probably couldn't bear to rate it any worse. I didn't care about a thing they said: the game looked so fucking awesome in the eye of a dedicated Spider-Man fan, that I just had to try the game out. I had to wait for several years for that to happen, but when it finally did, I liked it - I just wasn't that much of a comic book or Spider-Man buff at the time to care beyond a brief try-out.
|The comic book schtick spreads into the game.|
The first thing that comes as a surprise about the game is that the graphics, presentation and music are... wait for it... incredible... no, I won't cap that off with a supposedly funny turn-around, the audiovisuals of the game are off the charts considering who made this game, and when they did it. Green Jellÿ's bombastic soundtrack is perfect for this type of game, and once again, this was one of the first - if not the first - console games to have a licensed soundtrack. A proper recording of the title screen tune actually appears on an album of theirs, and it's called "Carnage Rules". I think the song went on to inspire the developers to ask Green Jellÿ to make the soundtrack. As per usual with these old-school Spider-Man games, the cutscenes are stylized to resemble a comic book, and to my recollection, these semi-animated scenes are ripped straight off the Maximum Carnage series, just mashed up and censored a little to meet Nintendo's standards (the game was however rated T upon release).
|Excuse me, sir... uh. Never mind.|
So, Maximum Carnage is far from a reasonable game, but with its generic, yet functional concept, tight gameplay and outright amazing audiovisuals, it's also lightyears ahead of any Spider-Man game that came before it - actually, any Marvel Comics video game product that came before it. It's been criticized for lacking the great production values of the first Spider-Man game on the Genesis - widely considered one of the best licensed games of the generation - but I didn't like that game. This one, I do. As absurd as it is.
+ Amazing audiovisual presentation; there's a true Spider-Man feel to it, all around
+ Good controls for once
+ A great cast; Venom as a playable character says it all...
- ...However, he steps in a bit too late
- No chance to block attacks...
- ...Only one continue...
- ...Pathetic health meter...
- ...And all the other stuff that makes this game unreasonably hard
< 7.5 >