Review by JPeeples

Reviewed: 05/01/02 | Updated: 07/01/04

Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can.

Spider-Man vs. the Kingpin was released for the Sega Genesis in 1991, and was developed and published by Sega. It also saw a release on the Sega CD, Sega Game Gear, and the Sega Master System. While the core game for all of the versions is identical, the Sega CD version features tons of improvements over the other versions of the game, as it actually makes great use of the CD medium. That version of the game adds improved sound quality, a revamped soundtrack, improved graphics, a completely overhauled level progression/game exploration system, a slew of hidden items, and tons of short animated cinemas at certain points in the game that really add to the Spidey experience. The Genesis version contains features not seen in that version of the game, so if you don’t have a Sega CD, don’t feel left out. This version of the game allows you to take pictures for the Daily Bugle during your battles, so you can buy money for webbing. This is also the only version of the game to feature the ability to go to Peter Parker’s apartment during the game and heal up. The unique features in each version of the game help to give every version of the game a feel of it’s own.

The game is based around a diabolical plot by the Kingpin, in which the Kingpin has planted a bomb that will go off in 24 hours, but, he tells the citizens of New York via a TV appearance, that Spider-Man is the one behind the planting of the bomb. Spidey has 24 hours to find the keys necessary to disarm the bomb, and save the town. In order to get these keys, Spider-Man will have to defeat some of his greatest rivals, some of them have keys, some don’t, but he must beat all of his enemies in order to find out where the evil Kingpin is. The game features some of his greatest foes: The Vulture, the Lizard, the Sandman, the evil symbiote Venom, Doctor Octopus, Mysterio, Electro, and the Hobgoblin. Spidey must remain focused on the task at hand, he only has one day to disarm the bomb, and save the city.

The core gameplay for this version of the game remains the same as in every other incarnation of it. Spidey will battle evil-doers in side-scrolling levels, all the while making use of his webbing, and hand-to-hand combat to vanquish his foes. The game’s levels are accessed via a huge overworld map that spans New York. The side-scrolling gameplay style fits Spidey perfectly, he is able to make use of each and every Spidey power, such as the ability to climb up walls and ceilings, the ability to shoot webbing, and his ever-present Spider-Sense, which warns him of upcoming danger.

The control in the game is simply amazing. All of Spidey’s abilities can be done via the game’s simple three-button control scheme. You shoot webbing with the A button; you can swing on the webbing, or make a web shield, or a web bolo that spreads across a wider area than a regular shot of webbing, you can also make a continuous stream of webbing that encases a foe to the point of incapacitation. Given the game’s liberal webbing system, this technique is quite effective at disposing of small-time foes. Hand-to-hand combat is handled with the B button; you can punch or kick a foe to senselessness. There are various techniques you can use by simply incorporating the webbing, and/or the hand-to-hand combat. You can tie up your foe with a shot or two of webbing to secure them in their place, then punch or kick them, or you can also simply punch them out, however, doing this adds risk that would be non-existent if you tied them up. The latter method is more risky, but, it disposes of foes in a faster fashion if it works perfectly. The C button is used to jump; you can simply jump from place-to-place, or you can do a jump kick to get to where you want to go, while at the same time adding some security thanks to the kick. The controls are extremely responsive, the on-screen action will occur immediately following a button press. This kind of immediate response is crucial to a Spidey game, since his character relies on lightning-fast reflexes to survive.

The graphics in the game are spectacular. Each character in the game, from Spidey, down to the lowliest thug, is full of detail. You can make out the eyeholes on Spidey’s costume, and even the belt on a thug’s pants. The big-time evil doers in the game look spectacular. The Kingpin looks like a gargantuan beast, and even has facial expressions, which do a great job at getting across how menacing he is. The Lizard features a tattered lab coat, which is just one of the small details that helps to add to his character’s transformation from a mild-mannered scientist, to a psychotic reptile, it really gets across the struggle that he goes through in the transformation. The game’s environments are just as detailed as the characters. The subway sections in the game features transparent windows, as well as passengers walking about the subway car. This small detail does a great job at getting across the madness occurring in a real-world setting, and it adds to the feel of the game. The central park level sections of the game are just as detailed; newspapers blow in the wind, a fountain spurts water, a broken-down swing set adds a sense of despair. Some aspects of the levels are interactive, the ability to break open a fire extinguisher, and force all of the water out of it, also adds to the real-world feel of the game.

The sound in the game is spectacular. The sound effects, such as the sound of webbing, or the sound of a punch connecting, are over-the-top and really help to show that, while the game’s setting is in the real-world, and there is peril afoot, there is always time to just have fun. Some of them, like the over-the-top death scream, are a bit much, since they take away the emphasis. The sound effects do serve a purpose though, they do a great job at emphasizing the damage done by punches, kicks, and webbing, for example. The music in the game has a heavy feel to it that helps get across the severity of the situation in the game.

The replay value of the game is through the roof. Although the game may seem like it’s limiting, thanks to the 24 hour time limit, it is actually quite extensive. You have a lot of things you can do in that 24 hour time frame. You can tackle each level with a different strategy to keep the game fresh, or you can place self-imposed limits on the game in an effort to add some challenge to the game. Although this version of the game certainly doesn’t need it. It is, by far the most difficult version of the game out there. The webbing and health meters are less liberal with respect to usage than any other version of the game.

All in all, this is the best Spidey game I have ever played. The frantic side-scrolling gameplay keeps you on your toes, and it fits the Spidey character to a tee. The game’s control is rock-solid, and it does a great job of getting across Spidey’s lightning-quick reflexes, which you will need if you hope to succeed in this game. The sound of the game is great. Although some of the sound effects are a bit too over the top for their own good. This game does an amazing job at capturing the characters it uses. All of them fit their comic-book personas perfectly. If you are a fan of Spidey, and you are looking for the best Spidey game out there, pick this game up.

For owners of the Sega Nomad, this game is perfect for portable Spidey action. While the fast-paced action can give the already-blurry screen some cause for alarm, you'll get used to it after a few minutes, and eventually learn to compensate for the errors that will be caused by the blurry screen. The sound, gameplay, and control remain as pristine as ever. I would recommend that you play the game on a regular Genesis system prior to playing it on a Nomad so you will be able to get a feel for the game as it should be played.

Then, when you feel you're up to the task, play the game on the Nomad. Despite all of the problems caused by playing this game on the Nomad, it's still the best way to play Spidey on the go. If you have a Nomad, you should definitely do whatever it takes to pick this game up. There are a few qualms to be had with playing it on the Nomad's screen, but it's still the finest Spidey experience ever offered on a portable.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Would you recommend this Review? Yes No

Got Your Own Opinion?

Submit a review and let your voice be heard.