Spider-Man is in many ways one of the most recognizable superheroes ever produced. This is interesting when you consider that most of us find little enjoyment in watching/reading about a pasty nerd from Queens as he deals with life, girls and bullies. Even more repulsive is the thought of this whiny dork confronting life’s woes through a thin veil of bright red spandex. However, mix in some tasty spidery powers and a healthy dose of wise-cracking/face-punting and we will gladly overlook all levels of bitchery and bulging nerd crotch.
We love Spider-Man. If you claim to not love Spider-Man, you are probably doing so just for attention. If you are friends with someone who claims to not love Spider-Man, take it as a cry for help and set up a time to hold an intervention to discover the root of their issues and what is causing them to act-out lately. Because ultimately any argument about this character comes down to one main conclusion: EVERYONE LOVES SPIDER-MAN. There are simply varying degrees of love, but there is no hate or “do not love.” This is mainly because, like Batman (who is also immune to your hatorade), Spider-Man is one of the easiest superheroes in town for us to relate to. When we watch or read about Pete flying around, kicking reptiles in the teeth or porking red-heads, we see ourselves. Spider-Man represents basic social and coming-of-age issues that we have all experienced. Even all his baddies (which are all so freaking insane) can all be seen as metaphors for common life concerns, such as duality or paranoia. It’s what would happen if Neil Gaiman just got crazy high one day and started rewriting excerpts of a middle-schooler’s MySpace page. We love Spider-Man because he is still primarily founded in the real world. The real world plays a indispensable role in almost all of his plots and is even, one could say, his arch-nemesis. He isn’t like Superman or Captain America, who have mixed the real world with their criminal-dick-punching lifestyle. He works to find balance and stresses over scheduling issues. He misses classes and fails tests. He has to set up dates around his busy work schedule, all while finding the time to judo flip some fat dimwit who’s running around in rhino pajamas.
This love of Spidey has led to endless stories and reincarnations in comics, toys, movies, cartoons and, of course, video games. Over the years, Spidey’s appearance in video games has achieved a bit of infamy, due to the sheer amount of all the games. Many of these games can come out feeling cheesy or rushed. Many take on a zany feel, looking like someone took a completely unrelated game and slapped Spider-Man on it straight Doki Doki Panic style in order to cash in on the Spider-Market. However, the Web Head has been the focal point of many a good game, and I intend on bringing what I feel are the best to light.
Now, I honestly cannot find a way to rank these, as they are all so different. Thus, I am going to list them in chronological order instead. Just keep that in mind.
Spider-Man: The Video Game
Starting this bitch out old-school. For the kiddies in the room, video games once came in giant boxes found in places known as “arcades.” This wonderful arena for the virginal were where we would have to go in order to get some of the more intense gameplay and better graphics in video games at the time. When I myself was a wee lad, I enjoyed the crap out of this particular game when I would visit my local arcade. Granted, the machine I played it on was already probably about 2 years old, being that I didn’t evolve into my gaming motor skills until around 1993. This console premiered in 1991 and was produced by an obscure company named SEGA. It was also fantastically well received and is often mentioned as one of the better arcade adventure games of all time.
The game was a side-scrolling beat-em-up with all the finesse of a Jean Claude Van Damme movie. The point was simple: walk to the right, occasionally jumping on or over stuff in order to reach the end of the level and uppercut the boss square in his nefarious nuts. As you progressed, you would be barraged by a plethora of multi-colored thugs, each color signifying that the baddy will have a different ability/pain tolerance. Occasionally, the screen pulls out and you are left jumping on tiny platforms and avoiding falling debris before you land safely on a larger platform surrounded by colorful whooping ninjas.
Similar to Streets of Rage or, my personal favorite, The Simpsons Arcade game, you have the choice of selecting one of four separate characters. One of my favorite aspects of this game is the character choice. Obviously, you can choose Spider-Man, as well as his feline-themed lust-mongering friend, Black Cat. I always thought the other two choices were interesting. Instead of throwing down the boring card and utilizing one or two X-Men or even Captain America, this game adds Hawkeye and Submariner into the roster. True, Submariner was much more popular back in the 90’s than he is today and both characters had a tendency to work with Spidey now and then, as did quite a few characters in the Marvel Universe. I just think it’s interesting that they selected either of these characters to introduce here during a time when Spider-Man and the X-Men were the big ticket items. Seems like putting them together could make for a game that is both absurd and obviously trying to suckle at the “Kids will buy what looks cool” teat…*