At a Glance: Maybe it’s because I’ve never read a comic book in my entire life, but I seem to be pretty out of the loop when it comes to the circulation of Spider-man related information. Everything I know about Spider-man came from watching the movie, which taught me that Spider-man’s powers include the ability to launch into two-minute monologues at will, bounce from building to building like a badly animated rubber ball and swing through the air on webs before headbutting a billboard. But according to this game, he also possesses the ability to slow down time and make everything jerk around spastically when he jumps in the air, fall off buildings, fall off cars, fall off ladders and fall off a wide variety of other objects. Despite my lack of superhero-related knowledge, I can definitively say that the creation of this awful game was the second worst Spider-man related decision that has ever been made. The worst was when the writers of the movie made Green Goblin the villain instead of Macho Man Randy Savage.

Platform: NES (Download Emulator here - 192k)

Download: Download ROM here - 140k


Game Plot: I wish I knew why game developers have such a hard time creating video games based on superheroes. Plenty of comic book superheroes, including Spider-man, have powers that would translate perfectly to a side-scrolling platformer. There were plenty of attempts at superhero games back during the NES and SNES days, since game companies were pumping these games out every week just like movie studios are currently doing with comic book movies. The difference is that comic book movies occasionally end up being good, while the quality of almost every Nintendo comic book game is around the level of Spider-man: Return of the Sinister Six.

Now you too can know what it's like to fight a Ninja Turtle in a Schwarzenegger mask!

In this wonderful crossbreed of plastic and shit, your goal is to maneuver your vaguely Spider-man-shaped hero through piles of debris while watching him repeatedly fall down. Why, you may ask, must you do this? Because if you don’t, six slightly overweight wrestlers in cardboard costumes will stand around forever in empty rooms, and thereby rule the world! Oh no!

Doctor Octopus is plotting the crowning caper of his criminal career...
(Note from Taylor “Psychosis” Bell: “Concocting” would have worked much better than “plotting.”)

To rule the world. He has reunited the Sinister Six and with these super-villains together again, nothing stands in their way

…Except Spider-Man!

I guess the movie deal went to his head or something, because Spider-man is too much of a bigshot to pay any attention to what you hit on the controller. You want him to jump over that enemy who’s firing a pistol at you? Sorry, he usually prefers to keep running and catch the bullet with his face. Punch, you say? Nah, that’s a lot of work, he’d rather jump up and hit the enemy in the head with his ass. The most fun you’ll have with the controls is when you’re trying to jump, since it’s impossible to change your direction in midair, and if you accidentally jump straight up, you have to sit there for 10 seconds waiting for him to land before you can try again.

He can take a .357 magnum slug to the crotch without flinching, but god help him if he touches the top of a ladder.

And considering Spider-man’s superpower is the ability to climb on things, you’d think the developers would have at least given him the ability to climb on ladders without falling off. No matter what surface you’re climbing on, even if it’s a ladder or a rope, you will automatically fall off once you reach the top. Believe me when I say that nothing compares to the thrill of climbing up a rope, working your way up past two or three screenfuls of enemies who are trying to knock you off, only to automatically fall all the way back down and have to start all over because you accidentally touched the top of the rope. The only way to successfully climb up anything is to climb as high as you possibly can without touching the top, then jump and hope you actually land on the top instead of hitting an enemy or randomly falling back down, which Spider-man likes to do at every available opportunity.

I know this all sounds painful, which it certainly is, but at least the game’s choppiness problems ensure that the game will only be able to draw new painful frames a couple of times per second. I don’t know how it’s even possible to get shitty framerates on the Nintendo, considering its library of graphics functions consists entirely of shuffling colored dots around, but I guess that’s all part of the Spider-man mystique.

Enemies: Not only do the villains’ armed thugs have it out for Spider-man, but animals and household appliances hate him too. So in addition to killing several hundred gun-wielding gangstas who stand in one spot shooting straight ahead for all eternity, you’ll be battling flying rats, disappearing birds, broken lightbulbs that electrocute you, green goop that grows out of the ceiling, and drifting feathers that can hurt you for some great reason if they bump into you. I know Spider-man is supposed to be a sensitive guy, but isn’t being injured by feathers kind of overdoing it? Nobody’s going to respect a superhero who would die in a pillow fight.

Spider-man demonstrates his fearsome combat capabilities by getting punched in the face by a hooker.

Weapons: You’ll spend most of the game terrorizing enemies with Spider-man’s awesome hand to hand combat skills, which are actually more likely to kill him than the enemies. How is that possible? Well, since most enemies are armed with guns, fighting them consists of jumping over their bullets until you get up close, at which point you punch them in the face and make them shatter into ugly little chunks. A lot of enemies take more than one hit to kill, so you’ll probably be tempted to hit the punch button more than once. If you’re foolish enough to press the punch button twice without taking a ten-minute break in between, Spider-man will hop forward and do a really gay twirling ballerina kick. The only problem is that the kick never, ever, ever connects, so all you end up doing is diving on top of the enemy and getting hit, at which point you’ll try to punch again and get shot in the eye. You can also collect little buckets of web material in each level, which lets you shoot little web things and shatter enemies from a distance.

Number of Levels: There are six total levels, three of which have some special item hidden in it to force you to be creative and use your head. For example, to beat the first level you have to find a key and unlock the exit, but to beat the second level you have to find TNT and blow the exit open! I know, it’s crazy! Sadly, the later levels don’t have any brain-bending logic puzzles like this, and as the game goes on the level design gets lazier and lazier. Maybe it was deadline pressure, or maybe the development team simply lost all hope in their future when they realized they were working full time programming AI for a guy named “Hobgoblin.”

Number of Bosses: There’s one boss for each level, so theoretically that should equal six bosses. However, the developers felt that the boss “Mysterio” was simply too exciting to fight once, so you get to fight him three times back-to-back-to-back! That’s right, after you kill him, you get the honor of walking into the next room and fighting him all over again! Twice! And just when you thought things couldn’t get any more exciting, you discover the developers “changed it up” by forcing you to do the exact same thing with the final boss, Dr. Octopus. He doesn’t even bother to pull a Dr. Wily and run away, forcing you to chase him down – he just dies when you beat him, then the first two times you walk into the next room, he’s good as new and you get to do the battle all over again. But don’t worry, the resulting black screen with the text “VICTORY! Spider-man triumphs over the Sinister Six” is well worth it.

Defining Moment: This game has made it clear to me that nobody in the video game industry respects Spider-man. His superpower of “being sticky” should translate into a great game, but the only great game he’s ever been in was Marvel vs Capcom 2, and even in that he’s a worthless character. Hell, his enemies don’t even have the courtesy to stay dead when he kills them, they just show up in the next room as if he had never done anything. I suspect the creation of this game was an act of sabotage by anti-Spider-man extremists loyal to a rival superhero, and thanks to their brilliant work on this and plenty of other second-rate superhero games, the NES is now known by millions of distraught kids as “that box that fagged up my comic books.”

Graphics:- 8
Gameplay:- 10
Story:- 6
Sound:- 10
Fun:- 9
Overall:- 43

Each category in the rating system is based out of a possible -10 score (-10 being the worst). The overall score is based out of a possible -50 score (-50 being the worst).

– Taylor "Psychosis" Bell

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