Friday, September 2, 2011

Maximum Carnage: Listen All You Fools

I think there are a lot of people my age out there who have fond memories Spider-Man & Venom: Maximum Carnage from Software Creations. It is something I don't think anyone who grew up after the 90's comic book collector's bubble burst would quite understand. It's a Spider-Man game that also has Venom as a playable character, it has a bunch cameos of other Marvel characters, and the big boss is the crazy serial killer Carnage, whom all the kids loved at the time. On top of all that, it had music from Green Jell├┐, and in retrospect that is really the only good thing about it.


Seriously, it's actually not a very good game at all. Anyone that hasn't spent all their PRAXIS points on nostalgia eye augments and has went back to play the game again have probably realized this. Firstly, it is a beat'em up, that stars two characters, but for some reason is completely single players. What kind of bullshit is that? Secondly, it's ugly. The sprites are poorly drawn, everyone looks deformed, and it doesn't accurately depict the art style of the comics or the cartoons of the time. And, while it's not necessarily a negative, the enemy designs are 90's as fuck. And why is it necessary to beat a few stages before Venom is playable? Most importantly, it isn't very fun, and it is more an experience of frustration and annoyance. Actually, I'm not sure if I know of anyone that has legitimately beat the game.

The controls are a bit confusing, with a lot options that may not be immediately apparent. There is the usual jump and attack buttons, but there is also two buttons for doing different web-related stuff. One allows the player to swing, which is only useful for traversal. The second is multipurpose. Pressing and holding it will create a shield that can be used for defense, but holds the player in place. If left or right is pressed along with the button, web will be shot out and bring an enemy in for a grab. The final use is contextual, and if there are enemies on both sides of the player, both will be pulled together and it will do massive damage to both. This would be a really cool attack and a useful tactic if it weren't for the fact it is nigh impossible to pull off due to the extremely specific vertical hit boxes that must be aligned.


There is the usual attack+jump crowd clear attack that deals a bit of damage to the player. There are other attacks besides the typical combo string, stuff like pressing the opposite direction from the way the player facing and jump at around the same time to do a back flip attack. If the player connects with a lot of successful hits in a row, the life bar will begin flashing and the reward is an extra strong attack that has a large hit box, but it needs to be used very quickly or else it will go away. So, if the life bar starts flashing after doing an attack that knocks enemies down or away, then it ends up being useless. 


Hit detection seems off and it makes the whole game feel wonky. There are a lot of moments when it appears that an attack should land, but the enemy is actually out of range of being hit by the player's attack, but not out of range for their own. If that's not annoying enough, the second stage requires the player to climb a building while periodically dodge lightning attacks and Doppleganger swinging around. Every time I play the game there is at least one time where I've almost made it all the way up to the top then get shot down ten or more stories. I just can't have fun playing Maximum Carnage anymore, but at least it was a decent excuse to go back and listen to a bunch of Green Jell├┐ songs.

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