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The Amazing Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin
by: Dr. Boogie

For the release of the new Superman movie, I told you about a whole mess of Superman games that have come out over the years. With that in mind, it's only natural that I give the same treatment to the new Spiderman movie. I'm sorry; I mean the new "Spider-Man" movie. Anyway, a problem arose, namely that for every Superman game, there are around five or six Spider-Man games. In fact, I believe the current number of Spider-Man games is fairly close to the number of states in the US, and personally, I don't believe in coincidences.

Indeed, as you've already seen earlier this week, the Spider-Man name is so lucrative that young Peter Parker would've easily made enough money by now to retire and leave crime fighting up to younger, bolder superheroes, like Iron Man or the Punisher. Hell, he would have made enough money to simply pay every criminal in New York to stop committing crimes. That's really not his style, though. If he did wind up paying off crooks, he'd probably do so while working in some kind of awful wordplay, possibly about it being the only time crime would pay.

I'm getting off topic here; the point is that Spider-Man has been in quite a few video games. I was thinking about this just the other day when I started wondering about what Spider-Man game is the best, or at the very least, which one has brought the least amount of shame to the franchise. Games based on comic book characters don't always flesh out as neatly as we'd like, and games based on movies... I can't say that there is any one Spider-Man game that stands out as the best in my mind. One of the earlier games, however, did have a lot of elements that weren't included in any previous games, and haven't been in any others since. Which game bore the title of innovator of past and present? None other than the Genesis game, The Amazing Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin!

Spider-Man vs others, Kingpin included!

Guess who the main villain is. If you said "Dr. Doom," kill yourself. The plot here is that the Kingpin has made a televised announcement to... announce that Spider-Man has planted a bomb somewhere, and that he's offering $10,000 to whomever can bring the webslinger to, let's say, justice. Now, what are the odds that anyone would believe a complete stranger when he tells them that one of the city's greatest champions has gone and planted a bomb for some reason, and furthermore, how many people are thick-headed enough to think that ten grand is enough to try and take down a guy who regularly tangles with super villains, often taking them on more than one at a time? Well, you don't run into too many civilians, so I guess not that many. Or maybe Spider-Man is just good at picking the quiet routes through the city.

Anyway, whereas most bombs can only be defused by an explosives expert, the bomb in question can only be defused by five color-coded keys which, if you do the math, works out to one key per super villain, except for the Kingpin himself, who despite engineering the entire plan, still thought it best to entrust his underlings with the bulk of his scheme. Not very Kingpin-ish if you ask me, but my belief is still suspended, as if trapped in a spider's web.

It's all pretty standard fare for the most part, right down to the awkward control scheme. However, there are a few little things that set it apart from all the others:

Have at thee, knave!
Web shield

Spider-Man can do many wondrous things with his webbing. Usually, these tricks take the form of lines, nets, or other spider-like webbery. This game first introduced the novel idea of Spidey using his webbing for something more direct, namely making a little buckler for himself. It works fairly well, but for some reason, it can only take three hits before it dissolves into useless spider goo. I thought they made bulletproof vests with this stuff. Maybe he's just sloppy because it's his first attempt.

Talk to the hand.
Taking pictures

In the movies, Spider-Man shoots web fluid out of some tiny holes in his wrists. However, in the comic book, Peter Parker built some nifty mechanical webshooters and brewed up the web fluid himself like a meth dealer. Also like a meth dealer, he had to get a day job as both a cover and a source of funding for his other career. And so, he put two and two together to combine his love of photography with his being a superhero to come up with exclusive Spider-Man pics to cover his living expenses, along with his photography stuff and supplies for making his spider stuff. This game was the first to simulate Spidey's delicate balance of career and super career, giving you the opportunity to snap some photos and make enough money to restock your web fluid in between stages. I wonder where he was keeping that camera of his...

The exit sign is very art deco.
Peter's pad

Another weird thing you could do in the game was return to Spider-Man's apartment. It's sparse decorated (though as you can see in the picture, it's about as large as a normal apartment in New York), but if you're injured, you can hang out there to recover your health, so long as you don't mind having to go back through the stage you left to go there. Also, to keep you from making a habit of this, time would pass much faster while you were resting in the apartment, so if you were just barely clinging to life, you'd be spending quite a bit of time there. Still, it wasn't quite as much time as you'd lose if it came down to the next item on our list:

He's hypnotized by the floating "continue?"

Rather than kill Spider-Man outright, his enemies, both super and otherwise, were content to simply render him unconscious and deliver him to the authorities. I'd expect this kind of behavior from super villains, always missing the big picture, but what street perp is going to take the time to carefully incapacitate Spider-Man when it's just as likely that the reward for him is a "dead or alive" type of arrangement? Anyway, the good news is that breaking out of jail is remarkably easy:

Oh no, there was no floor outside of my cell!

The problem (apart from the abnormally loud death music) is that you lose two hours to this little exercise, meaning that at most, you can get a game over eleven times. Twelve, if you don't mind getting caught in an explosion.

J. Jonah Jameson gives you a piece of his mind

Peter Parker's boss at the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson, is no fan of masked heroes in general, and uses every available occasion to share his feelings with Spider-Man. Thus, when he spots the webslinger walking around New York after only recently setting up a bomb somewhere, you can bet JJJ is pretty steamed. What's odd about this particular instance is the way he expresses his frustration: He walks up to Spider-Man and starts ranting at him, but of course the 16-bit Sega Genesis didn't have the processing power needed for voice clips, so the designers made due by giving his rantings a sound like someone randomly plucking the cords of a washtub bass. Or at least that's what I heard.

Nice pants.

Like the new movie, the game features both Venom and the Sandman! Venom stalks you at various points in the game, but the Sandman chooses to lie in wait in a sandbox at the park. Once he springs his trap, you'll be in for a monumental struggle that could last hours. Unless you find a fire hydrant:

Who put a fire hydrant in the middle of the park?
Let's hope the movie doesn't end this way.

Yes, Spider-Man has been in quite a few video games. This one was almost good enough to make people remember to spell his name with a hyphen. Still, I'm sure that kids today will forget all about the old school. Not the super old school, where Spider-Man was just a blocky red stick figure; the regular old school, hovering around the eight to sixteen-bit area. That's the area where developers could still mess around a little with the characters, as no one at Marvel was really paying that close attention. These days, with spectacular. blockbuster comic book movies like Spider-Man (and less spectacular movies like Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Catwoman, etc), there's a lot more at stake for comic book companies, and so they can't let developers get away with neat little things like snapping pictures and buying your own web fluid. Then again, I haven't played the newest Spider-Man game yet. Maybe they've put in some more fun extras, like a minigame where you negotiate your pay at the Daily Bugle, or a dating sim with Mary Jane (his wife that is, not pot). Only time will tell.

Dance, my puppets!

Questions or Comments about this piece?
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