Co-Op Classics: Spider-Man the Video Game
Spider-Man and his not quite so amazing friends
In case you've been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you are likely aware that a new Spider-Man movie is out in theaters. Spider-Man is one of the most popular characters of all time, and for good reason. He has a sweet costume, cool powers, and a wisecracking attitude; most of all, he's very human, and thus, more likeable than other heroes. The webhead's impact on popular culture is enormous, with a host of movies, cartoons, comics, and even video games under his web-cartridge-containing belt.
The past few years have given us Spider-Man games on an almost annual basis, including the recent Amazing Spider-Man movie tie in and the excellent Shattered Dimensions. Sadly, only one Spidey game in this console generation offered co-op: 2007's mediocre Friend or Foe. If we head back in time even further, we have to travel quite a ways until more co-op webslinging shows up, and one of these games is the topic of today's Co-Op Classics: Spider-Man the Video Game, which hit arcades in 1991.
In the early 90s, the brawler was the king of the arcade scene. The classics of the Golden Age, largely solo affairs, had been replaced by multiplayer offerings. Gauntlet, Golden Axe, Double Dragon, and other successful games had defined the beat em up genre. As the new decade dawned, developers applied the winning formula of these definitive games to new properties. Comic books were a natural source for inspiration, since super heroes are well known for beating up bad guys. Captain America, the Punisher, and the X-Men were just a few of the comic book licenses applied to brawlers, and Spider-Man, too, was a great fit for the genre.
Spider-Man the Video Game featured four player drop in/drop out co-op. The obvious problem in this situation is, only one person gets to play the web-slinger, so what other characters can be included to ease the sting of not controlling everyone's favorite superhero photographer? Sega's handling of the issue is mixed; Black Cat is a great inclusion, with a history of appearances in Spider-Man comics, and a similar set of powers. Hawkeye, the Avenging Archer, is a bit of a stretch. He's a great character, of course, and has an interesting set of skills that work well in a video game. But Spidey and Hawkeye didn't exactly run around much until Webhead joined the Avengers a few years back (which I would love to rant about sometime, but I digress). Still, Hawkeye makes more sense than the fourth character: Prince Namor of Atlantis, the Sub-Mariner. Sure, Namor is one of the oldest Marvel characters, but he's not exactly well known, and his power set is totally inappropriate for the game. Daredevil would have made far more sense, but I suppose three out of four isn't too bad.