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Spawn: The Game – SNES

Spawn: The Game – SNES

SpawnBoxShotSNESPlatform:  Super Nintendo Entertainment System

Developer:  Ukiyotei

Publisher:  Sony Electronic Publishing

Release Date (NA):  October 1995

Genre:  Beat’em Up / Platformer

Nerd Rating:   6 out of 10

Reviewed by:  Variand

Remember the 90’s?  When everything was dark and grungy, and that was bad… meaning good?  Remember when heroes were asshole loners who gave huge middle fingers to the man and were just as likely as kick you in the face as much as save you from a mugger?  And as much as that crap annoys me, I’m still nostalgic for it.  Enter one of my childhood asshole heroes, Al Simmons, A.K.A. The Spawn!

Spawn: Origins (Movie Reboot anyone?)

Malebolgia

A Major Lord of Hell, Malebolgia is ready to make a deal for your soul

A high-ranking CIA assassin, Al Simmons was a man who lived an evil life that eventually bit him in the ass, and upgraded him to a first class ticket to hell.  While there, he made a deal with Malebolgia, one of the major Lords of Hell, to return to earth to see his wife.  Well, being that it was the 90’s, shit happens, and he returns back all burnified and corpse-like.  But Al makes out fairly decently depending on your point of view.  He is given the customary 9:9:9:9 of Necroplasm, the source of power for all Hellspawn, and a symbiotic suit that attaches itself to wearer’s nervous system.  He’s then sent back to earth to see his Wife Wanda.  The only, and biggest catch – It’s been 5 years since his death, and Wanda has a child, Cyan, with her new husband (and Al’s best friend), Terry.  Understanding that he has no place in Wanda’s life since his death, he moves on with his own new life but always keeps a special watch over for Cyan.

The Most Badass Zombie Ever!

Try not to brown shotgun your pants if you see this Zombie coming after you

Try not to brown blast your pants if you see this Zombie coming after you

Long before the current craze of zombies made us the brainless mass-consumers of zombie tv shows, movies, and video games, there was one zombie that no one EVER thought of trying to take out with a shotgun to the head.  That’s probably because this zombie has the brains, infinitely powerful demonic abilities, and a disposition that makes a rabid rottweiler look like a cuddly hamster.  Those who make the mistake of trying to harm Cyan usually suffer all of hell’s fury, and that’s how Todd McFarlane’s Spawn: The Video Game begins.

Hell hath no fury like a Hellspawn’s Story

Spawn is ruthless in his protection of Cyan

Spawn is ruthless in his protection of Cyan

A string of child abductions catches the eyes of Spawn when a newspaper article shows that Abductee #13 is none other than Cyan.  Spawn launches into a furious search for the children that eventually leads him to an old warehouse crawling with thugs and villains from the comics.  Rather than going on a long hunt for your Widow and Best Friend’s daughter, you find Cyan fairly quickly.  However, when dealing with Heaven and Hell, you’re never dealing with the flesh, but the soul, and it’s soon explained that the 13 children have had theirs removed by a rogue angel intent on destroying Malebolgia.  While Spawn couldn’t care less about the death of his to-be master, he will not let Cyan be used in this angel’s plan.  So off to hell Spawn goes to find an angel whose plan is to kill innocent children to destroy a demon – makes perfect sense.

Artistic license includes Kincaid still being alive - in order to kill.

Artistic license includes Kincaid still being alive – in order to kill

Everything in the previous paragraph is given to you be the end of the second level; the story is told mostly through cutscenes, which bookend the majority of the gamplay.  That is to say that until you are at the end of the game, you’ll not get much story other than what you’ve been given from the start.  Think of this more akin to reading the first five panels of a comic, then skipping to the end and reading the last five with only looking at – not reading – the pictures for all the pages in between.  Using a little artistic license, Spawn did stay fairly true to the original comic, if a bit toned down in the brutality and gore departments, but it didn’t offer much story-wise to add to the Spawn universe.  While playing through what felt like endless levels of hell – because you literally play through levels of hell, it would have been a nice intermission to have more bits of story placed in the middle, especially when the graphics in the cutscene were so impressively presented!

This game gets a little Graphic

While it's true to the comic, I'm surprised character death's like this got a K-A rating.

While it’s true to the comic, I’m surprised character death’s like this got a K-A rating

While the overall graphics of the low-level baddies and environments seemed a bit bland and generic, Spawn and all his villains are incredibly vibrant.  Taking advantage of the SNES’s 16-bit graphics, Spawn looks great on the screen.  The red of his cape and the black of his symbiotic suit really pop against the background.  Spawn’s character sprite alone is one of the most detailed seen on the system, and even the sprite animations seem to have more screenshot-worthy poses than any other playable character.  The real gem of the visuals are the cutscenes.  While they are pixelated due to the limitations of the system, the still images used in the cutscenes look as though they should have been in a comic book.  These alone would make most comic fans go through hell and back just to see more.

Highway to Hell

Spawn Vega Slide

Spawn’s sliding low kick is similar to Vega’s (Street Fighter II) sliding sweep

A Beat’em up with platforming elements, Spawn shares several similarities with other games from fighting moves to the style of gameplay.  Very similar to Castlevania‘s style of gameplay, Spawn has you traversing through several levels requiring you to platform and dodge environmental obstacles.  Throughout these levels, you’ll beat up enemies and the occasional level boss.  While there will always be similarities in games of the same genre, there are lots of little things that are very reminiscent of other games.  One of Spawn’s moves is a chain whip sweep that looks an awful lot like Belmont’s whip, and he has a twisting drop kick that is a dead ringer for Rikuo’s Killer Vortex special from Darkstalkers 3.

Spawn Twisty Treat

Spawn’s Spinning drop kick is the only move you’ll need in this game

Speaking of Spawn’s little twisty treat (as I’ve dubbed it), it’s the only real move you will need throughout the game.  There are hardly any enemies that are not completely vulnerable to this move, and its impact is one of the strongest of those that do not require any of Spawn’s 9:9:9:9 Necroplasm.  In fact, it is completely possible to make it through the entire game without using any Necroplasm by just using the Twisty Treat and his Vega Sweep (Street Fighter II).  There are some other moves that do come in handy, such as his dashing shoulder hit and chainwhip swing, but the real power comes from his special moves.  These range from turning into a floating Spawn symbol to clear hard gaps, homing fireballs, and even a full heal; each of these consuming more of Spawn’s Necroplasm.  Necroplasm should be saved as much as possible, because each time you continue, it costs Necroplasm.  Game over occurs when you run out.

If you're not careful, the Twisty Treat move will land you right into a trap.

If you’re not careful, the Twisty Treat move will land you right into a trap

You’re likely going to need a few continues.  Spawn has a good bit of difficulty where even the Twisty Treat won’t help you.  Bosses in particular can be fairly annoying as they have several animations in which they are invincible, requiring a few tries to figure out when to attack.  This is made even more difficult as the later boss’ health bars won’t always go down when they are taking damage.  The final boss takes upwards of 50 hits before the health bar begins to move.  While Beat’em Up boss battles usually tend to be a bit extended anyways, this waiting game for the health bar to decrease really makes it feel as if it’s dragging out, leaving these fights feeling much longer than they should.

Controlling your Hellspawn

Spawn’s control scheme is a little wonky to get used to as it tries to give players fighter depth with platformer requisites.  With the 6 normal action buttons on the SNES controller, that’s tough to do.  with two punches and two kicks, jump, and block all fighting for the face buttons, light punch and block get relegated to the shoulders.  As said earlier, you’ll only really be using Jump and heavy Kick, so it’s not really a problem.  There are actually more controls than are really needed when heavy kick is nearly as fast as light kick, so you’ll likely never really use anything else.

Spawn slow fall

Holding jump will start a slow fall, which is just another chance for Spawn to pose

Jumping is slightly different than in other games that incorporate platforming.  Where most games immediately send you flying upon pressing the button, Spawn takes a moment to wind up a mighty leap.  This means there’s a half-second after you press jump before he gets airborne.  With this delay, timing comes into play when leaping over enemies and dodging attacks.  Being that the devs/artists made so many different animation poses for Spawn, they had to put in this pause so that they could show off his wind up pose.  While it might get annoying at first that your timing on holding jump to achieve more height is suddenly off, you’ll get used to it fairly quickly, and it just becomes part of the game.

Are pipe organs evil?

Why is it that every time you hear some sort of evil music, it is always being played on pipe organs?  Is this some deep-rooted trauma created from watching Phantom of the Opera, or are Pipe Organs just naturally evil?  Either way, they once again make an appearance in 16-bit digitize audio as much of the background music for the game will make use of them in one form or another.  The music is unique, but not overly catchy or memorable.  Even the sound effects are fairly bland, but the use of occasional digitized voices is a nice effect.  That being said, after hearing Spawn exclaim “ooumph” or “ow!” for the hundredth time, you might start to get annoyed.  And if you are as bad at this game as I am, Spawn’s cries of “Nooooo!” when he dies will make you cringe about as much as Darth Vader’s same line did in the Blu-Ray.

Hell was fun, maybe I’ll go back…

Angela

Angela and her skimpy outfit’s cameo might make Spawn worth another playthrough

Like all beat’em ups, the fun is in beating ’em up.  Spawn unfortunately doesn’t deliver on that real gritty excitement of a beat’em up like Castlevania and some its other kin.  Doing the same move over, and over, and over, and – you get the point – is not all that fun to replay over, and over, and…etc   What Spawn does deliver on is allowing you to play as a badass antihero, and play through an additional storyline of the beloved comic.  To fans of Spawn, that’s probably enough to revisit this title every so often.

Final Judgement:  Heaven or Hell?

While Spawn will never be considered an iconic SNES title, having nothing distinctly unique about it other than Todd McFarlane’s license, it was still a quality title for Beat’em up and comic fan’s alike.  If you are neither, you will not likely find much here for you.  Though, if you secretly root for the zombies whenever you watch Walking Dead, then you might want to check out the most BAMF Zombie of all – he is technically a zombie.

Agree with the review, or do you think I should go to hell?  Tell me about it in the comments below.

spawn-logo

Written by Variand

Variand

Agree or Disagree with something? Want to request a review a specific game? Just want to troll? Leave a comment, Twitter @Variand, or email me at Variand@NerdBacon.com. Or feel free to find and frag me on Xbox Live (GT: Rukhan), PSN (Variand), or Steam(Variand99).

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