The Halloween Grab Bag!
Arachnophobia: The Video Game!
by: Dr. Boogie

Movie tie-in video games tend to be a bit on the crap side. What you typically wind up with is something that was clearly rushed out and papered over with elements from the movie, like pictures and maybe some grainy voice clips to remind you that this wasn't just any unremarkable 2D platformer; it's the official tie-in game for A Few Good Men!

The Arachnophobia game just barely manages to skirt that tradition by being simple enough that it works as a game without having to fall back too heavily on references to the original movie.

Arachnophobia: The Video Game!

Initially it's a little unclear as to whether you play John Goodman's exterminator character, Delbert McClintock, or if you're just some nameless schlub working for him. All we know for certain is a rare and exceedingly dangerous South American spider has made its way to the United States and bred with an ordinary spider to make countless killer spiders. Your goal is to go from town to town locating the spider's nests and eliminate the queen spider. It's sort of a worst case what-if-style scenario where the movie had ended with Jeff Daniels getting killed and the hybrid spiders spreading across the country.

Arachnophobia: The Video Game!

Of course none of that matters to Delbert, who is perfectly happy to go from house to house, town to town while quipping, "Time to FOOmigate!" and other choice lines. And yet, unforgivably, he never once says, "ROCK AND ROLL!" How do you leave his memorable line from the trailer out of the game!?

Arachnophobia: The Video Game!

After you pick out a starting point, it's time to get fumigating. Each house presents you with a number of the killer spiders blocking your way from finding and destroying the nest. They start off fairly small in number and not particularly aggressive, apart from occasionally hopping in place:

Arachnophobia: The Video Game!

But eventually their numbers increase and they start pouncing at you:

Arachnophobia: The Video Game!

That's when you finally start noticing that Delbert can't take that many hits. I guess it's impressive that the spiders from the movie killed after a single bite, but surely he could've worn something a little thicker so he wouldn't have to worry about getting killed when he's rooting out entire towns full of spiders.

Arachnophobia: The Video Game!

The good news is that in addition to an egg sac filled with killer spiders, each house also holds a first aid kit full of antivenom for hybrid South American spiders. The bad news is that the game lulls you into a false sense of security so that when things take a turn for the difficult, you'll be looking at the game over screen all too often.

Arachnophobia: The Video Game!

Does spider venom change your eye color, or did Delbert always have purple eyes? It's been a while since I saw the movie.

In addition to worrying about getting bitten five times, your other major concern is running out of spray, as you can find every other bug-fighting utility in each house, but not more spray. You use all yours up and you'll have to leave to get more, and that'll give the spiders enough time to bring their numbers back up.

Thankfully, you're bolstered by your ability to see what's going on in two floors simultaneously. Maybe Delbert is such an accomplished exterminator that he just knows where the spiders are. Like some kind of "spider sense," but without the tingling. If he is tingling, he's probably breathed in too much of his own fumigating toxins.

Arachnophobia: The Video Game!

While there isn't much doubt about it when you encounter one, Delbert will always take care to announce, "the egg sac!" whenever you finally arrive in the room with the egg sac. You'll have to fight upstream through a river of spiders and then spray that sac with your nozzle like a man who enjoys his double entendres. Once it's gone, you're free to leave, regardless of how many killer spiders are still left in the house. Delbert will go so far as to draw attention to his negligence by sometimes shouting, "another satisfied customer!" I assume it's sarcastic seeing as some of the homes contain human corpses.

After each successful bug hunt, your "Bugometer" will point you towards the home with the queen in it.

Arachnophobia: The Video Game!

And Delbert will further drive the point home by announcing "the queen!" when she appears. That, and the entire game will hang for about five seconds as it struggles to load a brand new spider sprite . Even that much prep may not be enough because she is super aggressive and takes a handful of sprays to full neutralize. You remembered to bring enough spray, right? I sure hope so.

Arachnophobia: The Video Game!

But it's all worth it when the town hoists you on their shoulders and thanks you for ridding their town of the killer spiders. Apart from the homes you never visited and the homes where you left several behind. Perhaps this is a reference to the movie and the idea that the killer spiders have a short lifespan? I mean, that's what I would go with if I had to explain away the thought process behind praising an exterminator who did a half-assed job and then ran off shouting "Man we're good, onto the next town!"

And so it goes for eight entire towns. Eight! And Canaima, the town from the movie where the outbreak began, isn't even the worst one! If you ask me, some of the towns were asking for it with names like "Buggly" and "Infes Station". Especially the final town, Arachton, which hosts the penultimate spider, "The South American."

Arachnophobia: The Video Game!

That one is twice as big and so aggressive you may need to drop a big bomb. It's not powerful enough to kill the South American, but it will slow it down enough for you to gas it proper. Hopefully.

If not, it probably only took about 30 minutes to get to this point.

Arachnophobia: The Video Game!

You slay the South American and by extension, the whole of the continental US. That means it's time to dress up like Eazy-E and get your picture taken with the President. But what about the other fearsome spider known as "The General"? Also, what role in a spider colony is afforded to one called "The General"? Was he coordinating the spider invasion? Is that how spiders work in South America?

The answer to these questions is, "Shut up, idiot. Go to South America and kill that damn spider."


Arachnophobia: The Video Game!

One American exterminator versus an entire jungle of spiders? Thank goodness their lifespan is so short that they all die off except for two queens and the General himself. Bad news: the General is tough enough and fast enough that he barely notices when you throw down a bug bomb or two. But that's the kind of challenges you face when you're an international exterminator.

Arachnophobia: The Video Game!

At last, the epic struggle is over. Two continents have been cleansed of the diabolical spider menace. You're a hero. You've risen to heights never before dreamed of by a small town exterminator.

Now it's time for hard mode: any given location in Australia.

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