Spider-Man is awesome. Venom is even more awesome. Carnage isn't quite as awesome as either of them, but he's still pretty awesome. So what happens when you take all that awesome and squeeze it into a video game? You get a freaking awesome video game.
Worst. Intro. Ever.
It's true, though. Maximum Carnage is awesome. It certainly isn't perfect, but it scratches all the basic video game itches. It handles pretty well, it looks sweet, and it's fun to play. The music is really good, and thanks to the source material it's based on, it has a solid (albeit somewhat confusing if you don't know anything about the original comic books) story.
The quick version is as follows: Spider-Man (Peter Parker) came into contact with an alien symbiote in space. He was able to wear it as a new costume, but eventually found it was taking over his brain and actions, so he got rid of it. The discarded alien found a new host in Eddie Brock (who already hated Peter Parker), and combined with him to form Venom. Eddie Brock eventually found himself separated from the suit and in jail, sharing a cell with serial killer Cletus Kasady. The symbiote came to the jail to help Eddie escape, but left it's offspring behind. That new symbiote bonded with Kasady to form the super villain Carnage. Spider-Man and Venom put their differences aside and defeat him, but eventually Carnage breaks out of jail again, and forms a stable of villains to wreak havoc with.
That's where the game picks up. You control Spider-Man and Venom (separately), and the object of the game is to take down Carnage and friends. Having to control the two heroes individually is my biggest gripe with the game. Multi-player seemed like a no brainer. This game is a fun, VERY DIFFICULT beat 'em up, and that genre screams "couch co-op". Particularly when the entire game is centred around an alliance between two characters.
As disappointing as the lack of a second player is, it doesn't break the game. Maximum Carnage is still fun to play, and you'll enjoy yourself until you inevitably lose too many times and get frustrated. This game is hard as fuck. But like most games of that era, a lot of repetition and practice makes it tolerable. The great graphics and music help with that, too.
This isn't the best beat 'em up of all-time, or even just of it's era (you can pry that title from Turtles In Time's cold, dead hands), but it's still sweet. That distinctive red cartridge helps it stick out, and it seems like even casual Marvel fans know these characters and the story involved. My buddy Tyler does, and so do I. We'll tell you all about it this week. Have a listen!