Retro Review: Spider-Man


Platform: Sega Megadrive

Released: 1991

Publisher: Sega

Developer: Technopop

After spending some time with the ‘Heroes in a Half Shell’ in my previous review of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, my Spidey sense started to tingle (I really should go to the doctors and get some cream for that), so I decided to revisit Spider-Man on the Sega Megadrive. It’s been 27 years since I originally played this game so let’s dust off the cartridge and see how it holds up in the video below.

There have been many Spider-Man games over the years and it’s fair to say that there is quite a bit of excitement building for the forthcoming PS4 exclusive which is due to be released in 2018. The trailers look great and the fact that it is being developed by Insomniac Games adds an extra level of anticipation. Insomniac has fantastic pedigree and is responsible for a number of excellent games including Spyro the Dragon, Ratchet & Clank, Resistance: Fall of Man, and Sunset Overdrive. In fact, the outstanding reboot of Ratchet in Clank released in 2015 reached number 3 in my top 10 games of the year!

Anyway, back to Spider-Man from 1991. In this adventure The Kingpin has framed you for planting a bomb which will destroy the city in 24 hours. Spider-Man must stop the bomb as well as clear his name all whilst facing some of his deadliest enemies along the way.

Let’s start with the positives. Generally speaking the graphics are good, especially when you consider that the Megadrive was only released a year earlier in Europe. The game has a nice comic book feel that helps to create an authentic Spider-Man experience.

As you would expect, Spider-Man can climb walls, shoot webs and swing around the place. Unfortunately the controls don’t feel very precise and I never felt 100% confident that I was going to grab onto the intended wall. A nice touch is being able to earn a bit of money by taking photographs and selling them to buy more webbing. There is also the chance to visit Peter Parkers bedroom to have some rest from the action.

The biggest source of my frustration though came from the rock hard difficulty. The game was kicking my ass on normal so I can only imagine how hard it would be on nightmare! Spider-Man has an energy bar which you think would give you more chance to survive, but the problem is that you hardly have any respite after you take a hit. This is most frustrating especially when an enemy is standing next to a platform that you need to reach and they constantly shoot, meaning you are always getting knocked off with little to no chance of reaching your destination.

The instruction manual promises epic battles with some of the classic baddies that have caused Spider-Man plenty of grief over the years. Enemies including Dr Octopus, The Lizard, Electro, The Sandman, The Hobgoblin, Venom and The Kingpin all stand in your way. Unfortunately, I didn’t reach any of these iconic bad guys because of one opponent who appeared countless times and was far deadlier than all of them put together. I like to call him ‘The Clone Twat’! You will see this infinitely spawning enemy regularly and surprisingly they all buy their clothes from the same shop as they wear a green hat, white t-shirt, brown jacket and green trousers. ‘The Clone Twat’ has two main attacks which include shooting an endless supply of bullets and stabbing you in the face more than Jason Voorhees…….and his mother! I joke of course but this enemy was so frustrating that it made me want to punch Aunt May!

I always hate it when you play a game today and it doesn’t quite match up to your memory. Spider-Man is one of those games and despite an interesting premise; I’m sad to say that I probably won’t be revisiting it anytime soon.

Graphics – Decent colourful graphics with some nice animation when Spidey crawls and swings. 6

Sound – Nothing special at all but then again, nothing too offensive on the ears. 4

Playability – The controls can make this game quite frustrating to play and the difficulty is enough to make you scream blue murder. 4

Re-Playability – I doubt that I’ll be replaying Spider-Man anytime soon which is a shame because it had a lot of potential. 3

Overall – I’m very sad to say that re-visiting Spider-Man wasn’t quite what I was expecting. I hoped that the game would match my memory, but slightly dodgy controls and insane difficulty have soured the experience. 4

Review by Chris (co-host of 60 Minutes With)