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Spider-Man Reviewed by Adam Wallace on . Rating: 57%
Spider-Man
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  • Review Score:

  • C+
Superheroes have always been a prime breeding ground for video game ideas. Though it wasn't until the last couple of console generations when video games could dive deeply into the characters from a story-telling standpoint, earlier consoles were at least able to make many enjoyable games featuring heroes in tights.

Spider-Man on the Atari 2600 was the very first video game based on the Marvel comics universe, and, like most Atari 2600 games, it's quite simple to pick up. Only two characters are present: Peter Parker himself and Norman Osbourne (aka the Green Goblin). The Goblin rigged a series of buildings with bombs. Your goal as Spider-Man is to scale each building and remove the bombs. Like I said, don't expect to dive into the Goblin's motivations or the hectic life of Peter Parker when he's not wearing the suit. If you want those parts of the mythos, buy a comic book or watch the first Spider-Man movie again.

Spider-Man (Atari 2600)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Deviating from the source material, Spider-Man can't just crawl up the walls of the skyscrapers; he has to use his web as a rope climb. Also, he really needs to adjust his web formula as his webbing can't stick to the windows. Plus his web-shooters must have sprung a leak; his web fluid (noted by a red bar at the bottom of the screen) keeps ticking down even when he's holding still. More web fluid can be obtained by tagging the crooks in the windows or by grabbing the smaller bombs higher up the building (just go with it).

The buildings are all rather boxy-looking skyscrapers, but each one has a different height and overall design. Navigating the buildings becomes the primary challenge in the game, and the difficulty curve is well done. Unfortunately, while he is seen at least once on every stage, there is no way to fight the Green Goblin. Any contact with him sends Spidey tumbling. Fortunately, if you have enough fluid, you can save yourself.

Spider-Man (Atari 2600)Click For the Full Picture Archive

The graphics are okay for the system. Each skyscraper is a different design and a different color, eliminating the kind of visual fatigue most early games had. The characters are poor. They may be decent renditions of people for the 2600, but there are no animations anywhere. Even the Goblin on his glider looks like a target in an Old West shooting gallery. Sounds are serviceable with a nice little tune when a level is completed.

Spider-Man on the 2600 did the best it could to represent the character. Sometimes it was enjoyable swinging on the buildings, stopping bombs, and being the hero. However, Spider-Man games have progressed far in the last 30 years, and this one can't cut it these days. That doesn't take away the fact that it was a decent early attempt at covering a comic book hero.

It was certainly better that Spider-Man 3, anyway.
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