SPIDER-MAN / Data East / Arcade
Yet another licensed arcade beat-em-up, this one was rushed out amid the flood of 4-player arcade games looking to horn in on the success of 1991's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Spider-Man was featured as the main character, but players could also choose from a roster of Marvel's more obscure heroes -- Black Cat, Namor the Submariner (a buff Mr. Spock wearing bikini briefs and nothing else!) or Hawkeye.
The game's high points are the fact that you can select your player regardless of physical position at the machine, and the unintentional humor of the synthesized scat music on the character select screen and Venom's warbly cranky old man voice. Aside from those things, it's a rather bad beat-em-up, at least compared to the better entries of the genre. There's five levels, which are fairly large, but are padded out by these segments where the view "zooms out" and you control tiny characters as they navigate through large environs in a sort of quasi run-and-gun mode. The game tries to nonsensically cram every major Spider-Man villain in -- you'll start a level being taunted by Green Goblin, only to run into Lizard for no apparent reason, then Electro, then Kingpin, finally Green Goblin shows up again but he's a mid boss, and the real boss is Venom, or some such arrangement. A lot of the best bosses are wasted as throwaways in the tiny-sprites mode, like Doctor Octopus, whereas you get two epic showdowns with goofnuts like Scorpion.
The graphics just have an off look to them, and it almost seems like this game was hastily rushed out the door (I don't know why that thought surprises me). The characters are all pretty much the same, just have the usual stiff punch combo and jump kicks, though each has a different jump+punch special attack of which some are way better than others. Spider-Man shoots out like Ultimate Web that annihalates everything in front of him, whereas at the opposite end Hawkeye clubs a guy with his bow and then shoots ... one arrow (which usually just goes over the head of the guy he just clubbed for little damage). Unlike most beat-em-ups you have a numeric life meter at the bottom of the screen that slowly counts down in Gauntlet style, but the general ease of the enemies (a couple cheap-hitting bosses aside) combined with the generous portions of health and a lot of refreshers laying around makes this game a little less frantic than the usual quarter-sucker. In a kind of odd move for a 1991 game, it takes two quarters to start, but you can continue with only one.
* Gameplay Video