Approximate Release Date: November 1, 1992
Developer: Software Creations
The best thing I can say about Spider-Man and the X-Men in Arcade’s Revenge is that it’s ambitious.
Video games struggle enough trying to translate just one superhero into fun and long-lasting gameplay. Developers have to figure out how to make a superhero feel powerful but balanced. How many superhero games have been released so far for the Super Nintendo? Just one – Ultraman: Towards the Future – and that game is terrible! Even if you expand the definition of what a superhero is the results aren’t any better. Sure, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time is a fantastic game, but The Rocketeer and Robocop 3 are barely playable.
Arcade’s Revenge is another failure, five times over. There are five superheroes to choose from – Spider-Man, Wolverine, Storm, Cyclops, and Gambit – and each has their own level to complete. Most of the levels are bog-standard 2D platforming levels. Spider-Man and Cyclops can shoot stuff. Gambit throws cards. Wolverine has a dedicated claw unsheath button and punches things. Storm is the only character who plays drastically differently than the rest, with her level being a weird Ecco the Dolphin clone. She even makes dolphin-like sounds!
The danger of having different characters in a game is the chance that one of them might not be any fun. None of the superheroes in Arcade’s Revenge are enjoyable to play as. The levels are visually distinct but filled with the most basic obstacles and enemies you can imagine. The pseudo-tutorial level at the beginning has you collecting icons in a certain order to unlock a door, but the rest are standard from-A-to-B fare.
I mean, watch the video and let me know if Arcade’s Revenge passes the “does this game look fun” test.
So far, the SNES has barely managed one good superhero game. Spider-Man and the X-Men in Arcade’s Revenge was destined to fail because the developers were trying to make five at once without really understanding what makes a good superhero game. Today’s developers still struggle with that, too.
Tomorrow: Who is Captain Novolin?