In my youth when I would spend my days after school at my Grandmother’s house I would occasionally be invited over to the next door neighbors, friends of my Grandparents, to play some Atari games with their daughter. One afternoon this happened and I was surprised to see a Spider-Man cartridge on the living room floor. Apparently my local television stations had done a poor job of making sure I saw the live-action television commercial for the game. I was pretty excited by this title and I was able to play two rounds before we had to switch to the game that their daughter wanted to play. Strawberry Shortcake Musical Match-ups was the game we played for the next two or more hours. I kept asking if we could go back to Spider-Man but that little girl was quite adamant about matching up the correct clothes on the characters and watching them dance. Ahem. I’ll admit that the Purple Pieman could really get down and boogie when you gave him his correct set of clothes.
Luckily just a few weeks ago I was able to get my hands on a Spider-Man cartridge at my local comic book shop. I didn’t waste any time once I got home before picking up my joystick and slotting the cartridge…I had 27 years of missed web-slinging to make up for!
Once you press the game select you are treated to a brief midi version of the 1960’s Spider-Man theme as on the screen you see the red and blue avatar of Spider-Man hanging on the front of the first building you need to scale to diffuse a super bomb that the Green Goblin has placed at very top of the skyscraper. You can move in any direction by pointing the joystick and using the fire button, you can control how long the web is by releasing the fire button. You can also move Spidey down…which took me a couple of games to figure out.
Spider-Man’s ascent is made a little more difficult by the multitude of criminals that are ready to sever his web line as he progresses up the building, and smaller black “time bombs” that are positioned on the higher levels of the tower. Both of these threats will end up sending Spidey hurling to the pavement below unless you are quick enough to fire another web line to halt your fall. This is not so hard on the first few levels but after the fourth is when you find the criminals have a tendency to pop up and block your web line from connecting annoyingly well. When your web line fails to connect or the super bomb goes off you’ll get a few seconds of horrifying plummeting until Spider-Man hits the pavement below and makes a very disturbing thud sound. I actually wince every time it happens.
You need to also keep an eye on the red meter on the bottom right, that is your web fluid meter. Keep spinning webs any size and you’ll run out of web fluid very quickly, luckily every time that Spidey captures one of the criminals by ‘touching’ them he is given 30 points and a small amount of web fluid, so grabbing those creeps is important…except that every level the Goblin has set a limit to how many criminals or time bombs (50 points and web fluid or 80 points when it turns red and is about to explode) you can nab…if Spider-Man ends up being too good at his job the villain will set the timer on the super bomb. Unfortunately you will not know the set amount that will start the count down so you have to listen for the low-pitched sound, as the instruction booklet advises, and when you hear that you need to make your way to the top of the skyscraper as quick as you can!
When you reach the top of the skyscraper you’ll have to avoid the Green Goblin on his glider as he moves from left to right on the screen and you’ll also have to use some fancy web slinging or have a bit of luck to make sure that Spidey makes contact with the super bomb and that his webbing doesn’t get cut by the “electrified” gate protecting the bomb within.
This title has some pretty bland graphics to be honest but where it really shines is the play control and the just plain fun you’ll have while swinging across the buildings and nabbing the bad guys and bombs…though it does take a couple of games to get the hang of it all. Like I mentioned above, the graphics are a little lacking on this title but I just can’t let that rob the game of its rightful five star rating. Excelsior!