With the new Spider-Man movie in the theatres now, I’ve decided to take a look at one of the earliest Spider-Man games ever made for the PC. And since the new movie is part of the MCU, I think is fitting that I review one of the few Spider-Man titles more integrated into the Marvel Universe that I know of. I’m talking about Dr Doom’s Revenge.
The Amazing Spider-Man and Captain America in Dr Doom’s Revenge (definitely a contender for the largest game title award) is an action game developed by Paragon Software Corporation and published by Medalist International. It was originally released in 1989 for the Commodore 64, DOS and ZX Spectrum and it was re-released the following year for the Commodore Amiga, Amstrad CPC and Atari ST.
But before we take a look at the game, let’s check the cover, shall we?
The cover looks just like a comic book cover, with our villain looming threateningly over our heroes. Very fitting for a game that features classic superhero imagery and artwork. I suppose you couldn’t ask for more.
But it’s time to boot this web-slinger:
The title screen, despite being colourful, is kind of ugly, artwork-wise. It has a nice music theme though. About the backstory, the game comes with a comic made by Marvel explaining why our heroes are facing Dr Doom. But about the comic itself, maybe I should someone else properly review it:
(Video courtesy of Atop the Fourth Wall)
Thanks, Linkara! And don’t worry, I’ll handle the game review from now on.
The game starts right after the comic ends, with Spider-Man and Captain America splitting up to cover more ground, so the game alternates between both. It starts with a comic panel featuring Captain America and then changes to a side-view in which you control the character against a robot.
Then after defeating said robot, it goes back to another comic panel to continue the story and then back again to the side-view where you need to avoid some traps. And then it goes to yet another panel but now featuring Spider-Man. And that’s practically the entire game, with both heroes facing enemies and avoiding traps with comic panels serving as sort of cutscenes, continuing the story.
But it’s during the action sequences that the game turns ugly. From terrible controls to awful animation and pitiful sound effects. This is not a fun game to play!
The main view depicts all the action and characters, while the bottom screen depicts pictures of said characters along with their names and health bars. Spider-Man, however, gets a second bar reflecting the level of his web-fluid. And during the stages where you have to avoid traps, a “Super Hero Challenge” image appears at the bottom, next to our character’s health bar.
The graphics aren’t anything special, with very ugly (but colourful nonetheless) sprites during the action scenes and the artwork in the comic panels range from ugly to acceptable. At least some of the backgrounds during the action levels are somewhat nice and detailed.
There are only 3 music themes throughout the game: at the title screen, at the game-over screen and at the ending screen, after defeating Dr Doom. There’s no more music during the rest of the game. And the sound effects are as basic as possible with a lot of screeching noises.
But perhaps the worst part of the game is the controls and the animation. The animation is almost non-existent, with the characters moving extremely slowly. And as far as the controls go, I actually recommend the keyboard over a joystick or a gamepad. The controls are limited to an action button and directional arrows and it’s easier to use the numeric keypad over the keyboard arrows. You have to press the action combined with a direction to attack your enemies and the distance between your character and your enemies determines which attack you’ll use. So you have to be far from the enemies for your character to use their signature attacks (Captain America with his shield and Spider-Man, his webs). There aren’t any special or particularly strong attacks, but some of the later enemies do have special attacks that can drain your health bar.
But what makes the game particularly hard, it’s the fact you only have one life and no way to recharge your health bar (and neither Spidey’s web fluid). And also some traps are insta-kill and if one of the characters dies, it’s automatically game-over. Even in the easiest difficulty setting! And then it’s back to the beginning of the game.
Depending on your skill (or luck), the game isn’t very big, but a tremendous amount of patience is required to finish it. And after finishing it once, there’s virtually no reason whatsoever to play it again. Even though it features several villains from both characters’ rogues gallery.
So, the only good things I can say about the game is that it has a good title theme and some of the backgrounds are well detailed, but the gameplay is just dreadful. The comic book that comes with the game is also quite good, but avoid this game, even if you’re a diehard Marvel fan.
I haven’t played the other versions, but the Amiga version seems to have better animation though. If you want to give it a shot, you can play it right here in your own browser.
And if you want to kick Dr Doom’s ass with Spider-Man, Captain America or any other Marvel superhero, there are several other games out there, each one better than this one.
So, what’s your favourite Marvel game and/or hero? Comment below and let me know. And I think I’ll go to the cinema and check out Spider-Man Homecoming. Well, see you around and keep on swinging and playing.