System: Sega Genesis
Release Date: 1994
First Played: 1994 (owned 1995)
Status: DEFEATED – September 21, 2014
What makes a great superhero? Well, they need a cool name and costume, unique super powers, and an interesting back story for starters. But arguably, one of the most important things that makes a comic book hero stand out among all the rest are the villains they face. What’s the point of having all those neat powers and gadgets if you’re just stopping boring pickpockets all day??? No, you need a villain that tests the limits of the hero, physically and mentally. And who else in the comic book world has more interesting and complicated villains than Spider-Man???
Spider-Man’s world was shaken up when he received his infamous Black Suit, which was actually an alien symbiote. After Spider-Man got rid of it (because it was trying to take him over), things were shaken up even more when it merged with Eddie Brock to become Venom!! But Spider-Man’s world turned into a freaking Magic Bullet when Carnage entered the picture!!!
His origin story is terrifyingly simple: psychopathic serial killer Cletus Kasady is arrested and placed in a cell with a defeated and Venom-less Eddie Brock. When the Venom symbiote breaks Brock out, it (unknowingly to Brock) left behind an offspring that merged with Cletus through an open wound, becoming one with his blood. With these new powers, Cletus, now calling himself Carnage, goes on a random killing spree, and it would take the combined efforts of Venom and his nemesis Spider-Man to defeat him once and for all…or so they thought…
Carnage’s popularity would continue to grow in the appropriately titled crossover series “MAXIMUM CARNAGE” which shows Spider-Man and Venom, along with other New York Superheroes, taking on Carnage and his group of Psycho baddies! It proved to be a success, so much so that the Mighty Minds at Marvel decided to capitalize on it and make it into a video game! If people liked the comics, then they’d LOVE the exact same thing in video game form, right???
When First We Met…
I got all my Marvel News from Marvel comic books, and I was blown away when within the depths of my comic book was an advertisement for this game…
MUHAHAHA!! Yes! GIMMIE!! I had seen Carnage in the comics and, since the 90’s were in full scale EXTREME mode, I dug what I saw, though I had not yet read the actual Maximum Carnage series. Just look at him! All crazy and red, towering over New York! Even the cartridge is red, not the usual black, BUT RED!!! CARNAGE RED!!! It doesn’t change anything about the game what so ever but IT’S RED!!! AND you could play as Spider-Man OR VENOM!?!?! Why don’t I have this game now?? WHY UNIVERSE!!?? I was intrigued, so a quick jaunt over to Jumbo Video fulfilled my thirst for this no doubt awesomely crazy game!
There’s some fast paced heavy metal guitar music that plays over the opening credits (synthesized of course, but still cool none the less) and then you get to the title!
Then it’s press start, no options, just right into the game! Now this is what I like! There is a comic book cut scene that shows titular villain Cletus Kasady, bound up ala Hannibal Lecter, being taken to his cell. The guards poke some fun at Kasady, since he is restrained and has been separated from his Carnage symbiote…or has he…
Carnage finds a fellow Super villain named Shriek and they escape. Cut to Spider-Man just swinging through the city minding his own business, as he goes to take care of some punks in the street, which is the start of Level 1!
Stay there till Tuesday…because that’s when they pick up the trash…!!
I remember being immediately impressed with the size of the characters on screen. All the other Spider-Man games I had played showed Spider-Man as a smaller figure in a large environment; but this was zoomed in, only showing the street level, so the action seems a lot closer! This also allowed for much more detail to be given to the characters in the game. It reminded me of a Spider-Man arcade game that I loved to play…
Picture of arcade action……vok????
As soon as the level starts I’m surrounded by street thugs! The brawler type moves Spider-Man has in this game were a very nice surprise compared to just plain old jabs and kicks in other Spider-Man games. He can do combo punches, running shoulder tackles, and jump kicks, on top of the usual wall climbing and web slinging. The most useful though was his web attacks! You can quickly create a web shield, shoot a web line at a foe to trap them temporarily, or use it to pull thugs towards you in order to deal some quick body blows or to throw them at other enemies. If you’re able to land several hits in a row, your health meter starts to flash and you can pull off a power move, which can defeat many enemies instantly, or at least severely damage them. My FAVOURITE move (though hard to pull off) was shooting a double web line at two foes to the left and right of you, then send them smashing face first into each other over your head!!
The enemies are numerous and tough, but I found the best strategy was to just grab baddies with your web and then throw them at everyone else. At the end of each level you are given points for accuracy….which I really don’t see the point of. After a boss fight with some thug ladies that attack with their hair, there’s a quick cut scene that introduces one of Spidey’s stranger villains…Doppelganger!!
The next 2 levels consist of you climbing up a building, while dodging ‘Ganger and Shriek lightning bolts and then a fight with them on the roof! This is where the difficulty makes a massive spike! First of all, ‘Ganger can’t be trapped by your webbing…so my grab and throw trick is useless. I can get in a couple of punching combos, but he quickly retaliates with a rolling punch or grabs me with his 6 arms and beats the crap out of me! This costs me 2 of my 3 lives; I find that a mix of punching and running shoulder tackles is the best way to deal with him.
After some pummelling on both sides, Shriek decides to join in! She’s a bit easier to handle, she’s also the only main boss who is affected by my webbing, not sure why they did that, but I’m able to go back to my grab and throw routine! I’m about to deal the final blow when the game takes over…Shriek shoots me with a lightning bolt and I fly off the building!! But…I was doing so well!!!
I start the next level in an alleyway with barely any health and have to battle my way through some more thugs, but there are too many…and I die…but there are continues!!! So, I start at the beginning of the alley and fight my way to the front door of a church where I’m forced to deal with an onslaught of fat guys! I last as long as I can, but just before I die…the game takes over again! A woman in white spandex appears and shoots little energy bolts at everyone, clearing the screen!! Thanks lady! Then a mysterious man in a hood appears and takes me away…..The cut scene shows that they are called Cloak and Dagger (I’m not 100% sure who they are…I’m guessing Cloak is the guy with the cloak) and they take me into the church.
But I can’t rest for long because Shriek and Doppelganger attack me in the church!!! It’s the same strategy as before, though they are both faster and have more health this time, but I manage to get them down to almost zero health…..then the game takes over again!! Come ON!!! Dagger appears next to you for some reason; SUDDENLY Carnage appears and shoots a spiked tendril at her while laughing maniacally!! Daggers down!! Then…
What’s he yelling…Tony?
Then comes the time I’ve been waiting for…you get to pick to play as Spider-Man or VENOM!! I would find out later that depending on who you choose, you play different levels, which adds variety and an excuse to replay it. So I choose Venom which leads to a cut scene showing Eddie Brock walking down the streets of San Francisco when he sees a newspaper headline about Carnage loose in New York and he freaks out! Then the level starts and he fights a bunch of thugs who are also terrorizing San Francisco…I guess. Venom plays similar to Spider-Man, except he is a heck of a lot stronger, but he’s slower, which makes my grab-and-throw-tactic work against me. Good ol’fashioned face punching it is! Venom also does a very awkward looking elbow dive, which is surprisingly good at clearing the screen of bad guys.
After finishing off some fat bosses, it’s off to central park, where it’s Venom’s turn to take a beating from Shriek and Doppleganger!!
Venom is so slow, and Shriek and ‘Ganger dance around me! Carnage laughs on a rock while I’m beaten to death!! I’m out of continues…game over. Right now, I’m not a big fan of Venom. With so many bad guys occupying a screen and the increasing speed and difficulty of the bosses, I find that speed is everything! I’m disappointed by this; Venom was always a tough boss in previous Spider-Man games, so I thought some of that toughness would be prevalent as a playable character!! I was wrong…so on my next play though, I ignore Venom and choose Spider-Man. This leads to a boss fight with a demented looking character called Demogoblin!
This guy is stupid tough, don’t even try hand to hand fighting; IF you land a punch, he immediately punches you back, which looks more like a Three Stooges slap fight than a boss battle, and I quickly use all my lives!!! On my next try, I found drop kicks to work best, though I still lost lives. Some more cut scenes, (I’ll be honest and say that the cut scenes are a bit hard to follow, but the main idea of the story is Carnage and pals are crazy, let’s get some super friends and stop them!) another choice between Spidey and Venom (Sorry Venom) and a couple more beat’em up levels leads to a night club called “The Deep” where I encounter for the first time some Super Hero Assist icons!! About bloody time!
In this level, you get Cloak and Black Cat! And boy do you need them, because you fight Shriek, Doppelganger AND Demogoblin!! For the love of….FINE!! They are tougher than ever, and I rely heavily on my assists: Cloak covers the screen in darkness, which deals damage somehow (maybe they bump into a wall or something), while Black Cat does back flips into people…which you would think would do nothing but it actually deals quite a bit of damage!!! None-the-less, I take a whooping, but survive. Another cut scene shows the heroes talking around a fire…
They get the bright idea to steal a sonic gun from the out of town Fantastic 4 which leads to the next level …..and the end of my journey….let me show you why…
These things…THESE THINGS!!!! They zip around the screen and shoot tiny plasma streams at you that act like punches. Your webbing is useless and lining up your punches is incredibly hard due to their size! AND because I always used up my hero assists in The Deep, I had no extra help! I died constantly at this level, and the one time I was able to get through it by fluke, you then have to fight THIS ASSHOLE…
What the hell is a Muzzoid??? He’s huge, quick, and can kill you in 3 hits!!!! I think what frustrated me the most was that I was being soundly ass-whooped by some generic boss, not even one of the super villains! I would eventually find this game in a flea market the following year, but I still could get no farther…so tired of failing at this ridiculously hard game, I put it aside to play more tamer Spider-Man games that offered me at least an option for an easy mode. I was defeated, Carnage still reigned supreme…
Meanwhile in the Present…
When I chose this game, I knew I would be in for a fight. I remembered having fun with it, but I also remembered a lot of frustration at the difficulty. This time around I didn’t so much find the levels hard, but repetitive! I stick with Spidey, as memory told me he was the best choice, but time and again I would just die and die and die! I’m not going to beat this one, I realize, this is going to be the first entry where I’m going to have to admit that, this game is unbeatable…but then I decided to give Venom a second chance. I don’t know what happened over the years, but I suddenly mesh with Venom. I find his lack of speed to be no real problem as he’s amazing at mêlée attacks! Though bosses still were a pain and much faster, his weird elbow charge was impressively effective! Even the annoying robots in the Fantastic 4 Lab were no match for Venom! But what about Muzzoid? By fluke I realize that I can stick to the walls of the lab (why I never thought of this before is beyond me) and I can easily kick Muzzoid in the head till he’s dead! So, some 20 years later, it’s finally on to the next level…which is an all out brawl!!
You have to fight ALL THE SUPER VILLIANS. Doppleganger and Demogoblin first, Venom’s Super Elbows make short work of them, which brings out Shreik and some other guy that I’ve never heard of called Carrion. Shriek is faster than before, but my webbing attacks are still effective but my end comes with Carrion. Carrion very slowly floats in the air trying to get above you, then quickly grabs your head and sucks the life out of you!! Only randomly jumping around can shake him off, but by the time he’s off of me, I’m fresh pickings for Shriek. A couple of Game Over’s later and I discover that in a tree that is at the top of the screen is a hidden icon of Spider-Man (because I was playing as Venom, if I was playing as Spider-Man, it would have been a Venom icon)! When used, he jumps onto screen and blasts everyone with that sonic gun we fought so hard to get! Carrion is blown away as is Shriek, but when she dies she drops an Icon for someone named Firestar who (surprise) shoots fire. Just in time too, because here comes CARNAGE! I activate Firestar who flies onto the screen and torches Carnage, almost KOing him, but before you can, Carnage runs away laughing….well that was easy! I thought Carnage would be a bit more challenging….
The next level is a park swarming with bad guys and I get a big Game Over, back to start! But on this go through, something FANTASTIC happens in the Baxter Building Lab… So I just killed Muzzoid, but I drop down to the floor before he has fully faded away, which KILLS me!! WHAAATT!?? I use a continue, but technically I already beat Muzzoid, so there is no boss for me to fight, so I stand there doing nothing. I think that I have activated some sort of glitch; that the game is now unplayable and I’ll need to reset! Mashing buttons, I start randomly jumping and flipping around the stage; the game pauses. Great…I get up to reset the game when the screen goes black and the words “Secret Room” appear. Whatwhatwhat??? In this room are a couple of robot orbs which, when defeated, give you lives and continues!! I must have gotten 3 lives and continues each!! Then it cuts back to the Muzzoid level which immediately ends and I’m onto the Roof Top brawl! This “Secret Room” gives me the edge I needed. With so many lives now, I’m able to be more sparing with my hero icons and I’m able to blast through the park level…Until you get to ANOTHER BOSS BRAWL!! Aw for the love of…but I have lots of hero icons and I discover a DEATHLOK ICON!
What Venom’s elbows don’t take care of, Deathlok does, and so I’ve defeated ANOTHER boss brawl. Then a character selection screen appears…I stay with Venom, and I’m greeted with this
Holy crap!! Carnage is torturing Venom in the Statue of Liberty!! While you are hanging there being taunted and tortured by Carnage, the game will cut away to a shot of what Spider-Man is doing, which looks like a lot of fun, but you just sit there getting burned alive. You must watch at least 3 levels of fun Spider-Man action until Venom eventually escapes. Then, you guessed it, ANOTHER boss brawl. I manage to collect some more hero icons here, but I die and continue. Thankfully, the game keeps whatever hero icons you had, so I was able to basically double them, which made this boss brawl very easy. Carnage and his gang falls under a reign of attacks from Dagger, Firestar, Spider-Man with a Sonic Gun, Black Cat and DEATHLOCK…there is a cut scene where Carnage is weak enough to be killed. Venom tells Firestar to finish him off, but Spider-Man says no, by killing him, we are no better than he is. Firestar sides with Spider-Man, which sends Venom into a rage!!
The End……………..wait what??
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME??? This insane stupid hard game ends like this?? %^$%&*#%&#$^!!!!!! Spider-Man and Venom stand there ginning at you like idiots as the credits roll. I’m shaking my head in quiet rage when suddenly…
Carnage is BACK!!! It’s not the end! Ah, the ol’fake ending gag huh? The Boss fight starts immediately and lasts 2 levels! To make matters worse, all those boss icons I had saved up are GONE. But, you do get to play as Spider-Man AND Venom. The climax to this battle takes place at “The Ruined Boys Home”…
Carnage attacks with spear and dagger hands as well as a windmill Battle Axe running attack!! I’m still going strong as Venom, my elbows are powerful, but are no match for Carnage…I die, and in pops Spider-Man! I haven’t used him since the beginning of the game. It’s very noticeable how weak he is compared to Venom, but his speed is what saves me! Flip, jump kick, body check, a quick punch combo, repeat! My palms are sweating, my eyes are killing me as I refuse to blink and miss anything! With my last life and an inch of health left, I issue a POWER MOVE and send Carnage sprawling to the ground. An epic ending worthy of a blockbuster film!! Then it’s time to sit back and enjoy the ending cut scenes….
The Avengers show up to take Carnage away…or more accurately, The Vision, some lady who has her back to us and Thunderstrike show up. Thunderstrike was supposed to be a fresh take on Thor that didn’t pan out (Don’t worry, they killed him off a while ago!) I’m kind of disappointed by this; at least have Ironman show up or something, not some B-list Avengers. The game comes to a close with Spider-Man, walking away into the sunset, wondering if this truly is the last we will see of Carnage…roll REAL CREDITS…The End…
This game is extremely repetitive; from the constant barrage of Thugs to the near constant Boss Brawls. It would have been a lot better if each level had 1 villain to fight and then surprise us with having to fight all of them near the end of the game! That would at least keep things fresh. As for the story, I have never read the actual Maximum Carnage Series, but it wasn’t that interesting. The only cut scene that I was actually in to was when they decided if Carnage should live or die, I guess it’s a situation that carries over into real life. Does a maniac like Carnage deserve to be killed, or to serve the rest of his life behind bars? This is basically a comic book debate over the death penalty, but maybe I would have an appreciation for the story if I had actually read the comic.
The controls are smooth; Spider-Man and Venom have a variety of moves that try to keep the monotonous game play at bay, but barely. Music, it’s ok. Apparently this band called Green Jelly helped make the sound track. Again, no clue who they are, but they must had been pretty popular in the 90’s if they were asked to help make an extreme video game like Maximum Carnage! The head fake ending was good; I was legitimately furious and very glad that there was an actual final boss battle and ending that followed…but why did it need to be two final boss fights that were exactly the same?
Should you play this? Definitely, but get ready to die A LOT and to have an inner fight of your own between fun and frustration. If anything, buy it so you can brag about having the RED cartridge! I’m sure that will impress someone somewhere….
So what do you think? Are you ready to take on Maximum Carnage? Mayhaps the sequel Separation Anxiety? I have never played it, but reviews say it’s similar to Maximum Carnage. Sound off in the comments below!
Stay tuned next week for # 13 when we go from a game starring a crazy psycho criminal….to a SMOOTH criminal!