Friday 3 August 2018

Spider-Man (Atari 2600 review)

Developer: Atari
Publisher: Parker Brothers
Released: 1982

Spider-Man is an action game and the first ever title to feature the famous web-slinger.

Your job is to save New York City from the Green Goblin, who's booby-trapped the city with super bombs. Each level sees you shooting your web upwards to climb skyscrapers in an attempt to reach and defuse the bomb at the very top. Capturing criminals along the way (by crossing over them during a swing) is crucial to keeping your web fluid topped up, and you must also be careful not to shoot your web onto a window or any part of the sky, otherwise Spider-Man will start to fall. The ability to control your web length is great, especially when you're in tight quarters and need to move upwards a small distance. You'll totally feel like a superhero when you do successfully swing onto a meagre piece of scenery and the risk-reward element is perfectly balanced. Even falling doesn't mean immediate death, and it's fantastic how you have an opportunity to save yourself by quickly web-swinging back onto the building. It packs a good challenge too, and the steadily increasing enemy speeds and fiendishly placed bombs force you to use all parts of the building structure, rather than relying on the same patterns. Approaching the top makes for some fun, yet tricky climbing, as the 'safe' areas on the building become much smaller and the Green Goblin starts to move side-to-side in an attempt to break your line (basically acting as a boss-like area). However, the game's biggest downfall is its repetitive nature, as there's no significant stage layout variations or additional gameplay mechanics to peak your interest; once you've completed the first few levels there's literally nothing else to see.

Spider-Man is certainly entertaining for a few play sessions, but it simply doesn't do enough to keep you invested past the 10-15 minute mark. More gameplay modes or variations would have gone a long way to boosting its long-lasting appeal, something that even Space Invaders (1980, Atari 2600) managed to do with its 112 modes!

Random trivia: This was also the first videogame based on a Marvel Comics character.

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