Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Spider-Man and Venom: Separation Anxiety (Super NES, 1995)


Here's a game that NOBODY knew existed, it seemed like, back in 1995. That's right, Maximum Carnage actually has a sequel. As popular as that game was, this one is not fondly remembered...or remembered at all. It's nearly impossible to even find information about it online outside of a meager amount of coverage at GameFAQs. So I don't know what I'm getting into here, but expectations are set reasonably low.

Cure his...

Not much of a title screen, so it didn't get the top billing on this post. But yeah, the nefarious Life Foundation got ahold of Venom and basically cloned him into a bunch of symbiotes. That's...probably exactly what'd happen in the real world if Big Pharma and the Military-Industrial Complex got their hands on Venom DNA. No word on if Youtube and Twitter are banning people in the game world for saying anything mildly critical of the Life Foundation, but I'm going to say...Yes.

That's right, the one thing that'll make Spider-Man and Venom team up is the threat posed by Carnage. He's back too, if the box art is any indication.

The beginning looks a LOT like Maximum Carnage, almost like they reused assets. They didn't, though...this game actually does look different, and not really for the best. For example, the character sprites are considerably smaller now.

You can still web-sling to dropkick enemies and it's still awesome. One thing I don't like, though, is that you have to choose between Spidey and Venom at the outset and then THAT'S IT. No switching characters midway, no choices before levels, nothing. If you're doing 1P (which is super not advised), the character you pick is the only one you're seeing for the entirety of the game.

The first boss...is some sort of Toad Man cosplayer.

He's a big hefty lad (or maybe a robot) and pretty much the only "gimme" fight in the game. Like Toad Man.

Another thing you can do is form a shield to repel attacks, but it was easier to just move around and avoid them. Also, get used to seeing these Squid Game refugees because they're like the only enemy models for 90% of the game. The Maximum Carnage goons are only found in stage 1.

The Life Foundation starts sending their special forces guys after you, and they're heavily-armed. I found them, for the most part, to be MUCH easier than the symbiote bosses. Which is probably by design.

The first symbiote boss is this guy. Who? I don't know, but he's nearly a palette-swap of Venom. His deal is that he rolls a lot, dodging everything you throw at him. Easily the most annoying boss in the game and took me forever to beat.

Sometimes between stages you get captured and sent to a "trap room" where you have to fight off a bunch of TMNT mousers for a minute or so.

Yeah, for real, we got some TMNT mousers over here. There probably really was some inspiration because at this time TMNT was huge, much bigger than Spider-Man.

Fast-forward 25 years and that would no longer be the case. To which Spider-Man would say "HE WHO LAUGHS LAST, LAUGHS LOUDEST"

...actually Spider-Man probably wouldn't say that

The Life Foundation's elite guards are apparently called "The Jury". The next one has the power to electrify himself, which as you can imagine is pretty obnoxious in a beat 'em up game.

Jury, eh? Makes me think of Judge Dredd for the SNES and how it's another game I've wanted to check out since 1995.

Should I leave well enough alone, though? SOMETIMES DEAD IS BETTAH.

The next symbiote...is a lady! She attacks with giant hair-whips.

This game is pretty much all about the boss fights, with super-short stages and easy enemies in-between. The regular enemies basically exist so you can farm superhero summons, which I've been stockpiling for the inevitable time when the game throws super unfair boss rushes at me.

Once you get around halfway through the stages (already? yep) they start sending pairs of bosses after you. Yeah, it's bad.

Next, Spider-Man heads into the ventilation ducts of the Life Foundation, where he has to fight floating gun pods. At least it's something different.

The Black Venom emerges from an elevator.

*Spider-Man falls to the floor and tries to back away in slow-mo while shrieking, like Sarah Connor*

It's way worse than just the return of the Rolling Symbiote, now he's got the hair-swinger with him. She isn't too bad, but combine the two and it's a disaster. Time to spam those summons I've been saving up, a couple of them should knock this fight out. They really are the key to victory in Maximum Carnage and probably also here.

....aaaaand the button to unleash summons (R) isn't working. I mean, the button works fine, it just isn't doing anything. I tried all the other buttons, nothing. Looked online, saw other people asking why summons don't work, with no answers to be found anywhere.

Annnnnnnd I lose. That's a hell of a game over screen, at least. Looks like five new symbiotes, as if Venom and Carnage weren't enough already.

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd we're back at the title screen. Why didn't my summons work? I don't know, but that's lame as hell. I'm not going to beat this game the normal way and it won't matter if I do anyway, I already beat Maximum Carnage and that's the game people care about. Let's see what we've got for passwords so I can ROLL IT.

Yeaaaaaah, yeah that'll do it.

I warp back to the stage I left off on, and this time I'm going with Venom.

WHAM. He takes out the bosses I was so afraid of without too much of a fuss by spamming jump kicks. Maybe I only lost because I was spending all my time trying to figure out why my summons weren't working.

They start really reusing bosses a LOT now. And...this is weird, but NOW summons work in this new re-started run.

New symbiote! This one...is really forgettable. He moves fast, I guess? At least he doesn't roll.

Venom's attacks are much more brutal than Spidey's, and usually consist of him using throws and slams.

Another lady symbiote. This one is way stronger than the first, moves fast, and does a lot of damage. At this point you have to really start wondering if the developers of the game even realized that they gave the player a small, limited pool of lives. This is a game that desperately needed unlimited continues if it was going to be fun.

One left...Carnage? Or the green guy on the game over screen?

Yep it's the green guy. He isn't as bad as Axem Pink, but he's probably worse than the others. Besides the Rolling Monster. Man, F that guy. He isn't actually that bad in terms of being a threat, he just ROLLS CONSTANTLY.

With every individual symbiote and Jury member defeated, it's time for the game to throw ALL OF THEM at the player.

That's right, in the final stage, they put you through a gauntlet of almost all of the bosses, two at a time. And don't think you get a reprieve if you beat one and only have to deal with the other for a bit. Every time you defeat one, another immediately joins the fight. At least they drop a lot of hearts, but if the player arrives here with low lives it might not matter. At least the password system exists, but it only saves your progress every several levels.

This boss rush is incredibly brutal and unfair and I bet this is the reason nobody finished or remembers the game. At least my summons are working now. Why didn't they work before? WHO KNOWS. They work now, though, and they're the only way to beat these guys.

Oh yeah, there's also a flying Life Foundation guy I forgot to mention. He has super-low HP.

Weirdly enough, the Toad Man boss never reappeared, not even for the endgame boss rush.

I thought it'd send you to one final stage with Carnage, but nope, you fight him RIGHT HERE. That's right, after beating all of the bosses in the game, it throws you right into the fight with Carnage in the same stage.

The fight is rough, like the previous game, and summons don't do much (if you have any left, that is). It's all about sticking and moving now.

Defeat him and you get this SWEET ending shot.

So final thoughts on this game? Mehhhhhhhhh. It seems buggy and rushed, there's very little to it (the entire game is about 20-30 minutes long), and the volume of bosses thrown at you later on makes it an exercise in frustration. At least I took a look at it, though. So weird that Maximum Carnage had a sequel and it got like no attention.

What are the odds we get a Spider-Man and Venom crossover movie eventually? Who knows. It'd be rad if we did though.

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