Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage – A Beat ‘Em Up Retrospective

Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage featured here on the Sega Genesis isn’t some revolutionary game. But if you’re a big fan of the comics then this game is certainly appealing. The story is basically a retelling of the 14 part comic book series. Unfortunately I’ve never really been into comic books. Video games have been my escape virtually since I was born. This is a 16 bit game so I care more about the game play not the story. And it’s a beat ‘em up so under normal circumstances the story should take a back seat to the fighting. Quickly I’ll explain the plot in Double Dragon. Billy’s girlfriend is kidnapped and he must rescue her. Now what’s the plot in this one? I’m serious can someone explain it to me because I don’t have the energy to read the 14 comics. Yes, there is a bit too much narrative but at least the screens telling the tale look great. I keep meaning to print off some of the screen shots and put them on my wall.

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Whats important should be the ass-kicking. And the fighting isn’t overly varied. We get a punch, a grab move and of course a jump kick. In fact its really reminiscence of a game that I play on a regular basis. Here’s a hint, in involves raging in the streets. Maximum Carnage does have some more unique moves than Streets of Rage. While there are no weapons – unless you count throwing dumpsters around, there is webbing. It’s available to both Spidey and Venom and it’s rather useful. We can use the web to make a shield, or to tie up our enemies. Even to sling those random jerks into one another. The ‘get over here’ move was my favorite attack. If you’re unfamiliar to what that is, go find a copy of any Mortal Kombat game and pick Scorpion. There is a learning curve and things seem to happen a little random at times with the web moves. But it is the best part of the game.

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If you play this game long enough you start to notice that the men and women being pummeled are very repetitive. There are only about 9 different enemies in the entire game. It gets tedious very quickly. At the end of the stages, as expected, you encounter a boss. But things are different here. Because in this game the bosses that have been defeated earlier return to join the current boss you are facing and you fight them all as a unit. As the bosses keep snowballing it gets ridiculously hard, somewhat boring then infuriating. And if you’re a more together person that I am then you just might not smash your controller. It’s just an odd concept. In a repetitive game, the developers take further steps to make it more repetitive. To the point where you have to fight the end boss twice. It’s like he wanted a rematch, and the game granted it.

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Max Carnage is branded with the rancid rainbow that usually brings shame to the industry. By that I mean it’s published by LGN. They have a reputation for providing gamers with awful games. You may have heard of these hits: Friday the 13th, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Nightmare On Elm Street. While Max Carnage isn’t awful and has a lot of potential, it still manages to fall short of being anything worth while minus the eye candy of the comic book animations.

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The Super Nintendo version is nearly identical to the genesis one. The only difference I noticed is the go marker. I’m talking about the thing that most beat ‘em ups have to let the player know its time to scroll right. The Nintendo copy’s ‘go’ is a little better produced. And there is good news to the gamers that can’t get enough of Spider-Man and Venom. Because there is a sequel and just maybe it’s an improvement on Maximum Carnage. But that’s for a later post.

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