In case you haven’t heard, the second installment in the Amazing Spider-Man film series is just about ready to hit theatres. And in being slammed with the barrage of commercials and advertisements promoting said film these past few weeks, it’s taken me back—way back (relatively speaking) to a time when things were a bit easier. I’m talking about the mid-’90s, when video games weren’t overblown hype-fests and, admittedly, superhero movies kind of sucked. Now, the opposite is mostly true, though there are a number of impressive comic book-based games out there, particularly the Arkham series that centers on Batman’s trials and tribulations in Gotham City. They also hark back to that aforementioned simpler time, because with all the glossy graphics, over-the-top sound effects and voice acting, and everything else, there’s a straightforward gaming experience at the core: the ol’-fashioned beat-’em-up.
Basically, the Arkham games and second Spidey flick reminded me of one of my favorite experiences of my youth: beating the hell out of baddies as Spider-Man and/or Venom in Maximum Carnage. Personally, I had the cartridge locked into my Super Nintendo at all times and basically wore the thing out to the point we had to rent a second copy. Here was a game that was so simple—and difficult to the point of tears—that you could pick it up and play it at anytime until your eyes bled. Sure there was the nerdy factor of it being attached to Spider-Man’s narrative that intrigued me. However, it was the beat-’em-up lover inside me that became so attached to Maximum Carnage.
In addition to being far superior to its sequel (Separation Anxiety), this title had everything you could want from the classic beat-’em-up. Beyond simply beating all the bad guys to a pulp, you could call upon like-minded heroes from the Marvel universe to help you out along the way. We’re talkin’ everyone from the likes of Iron Fist to Captain America, all of whom had their own special capabilities. It’d be a bit of a stretch to call the game deep by today’s standards, but still, it was pretty damn deep in terms of variety. It also fulfilled my need to pummel villains considering I had already exhausted similar games like Streets Of Rage and Final Fight—though I was lucky enough that X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse did come out a few months later.
What really stuck with me about Maximum Carnage is how weak the ensuing Spider-Man games were over the years. Sure, the more recent Spider-Man: Web of Shadows was a solid experience, but there have been plenty of lukewarm ones along the way, too. The good thing for the web-slinger fans out there, though, is that there have been several options made available lately that can fill that void. The Xbox 360 version of Minecraft just recently announced Spider-Man skins while Betfair’s Casino has been getting its Spidey on with a game modeled after his narrative and a Marvel-themed roulette option. Oh, and did I mention that the Amazing Spider-Man 2 video game is looking pretty decent? Who knows, maybe all this buzz and the rebooted film franchise will lead to another Maximum Carnage-like title. We can only hope.