Maximum Carnage was a decent beat ‘em up in an age when beat ‘em ups were a dime a dozen.
Produced by LJN for the Super NES and Genesis, the game followed the storyline of the massive Spider-Man crossover of the same name, with the player taking on the role Spider-Man (duh), or in some cases; his nastier (and cooler) counterpart, Venom.
Aside from a rather harsh difficulty level, the only really glaring deficiency of the game, was it’s lack of 2-player simultaneous support.
Honestly, LJN product or not; nobody in their right mind should ever think it’s okay to release a beat ‘em up without a 2 player function.
Despite this (huge) flaw, the game did offer some interesting innovations to the genre in the form of special items that bestow the player with aid from other superheroes, and Spider-Man and Venom’s decidedly spidery movesets.
The “superhero summon” system was a decent idea on paper, however the item pickups that activated the function were extremely rare, and often were only useful to the player in very specific circumstances.
I remember hating to use the “summons” sometimes, ’cause every time you did, it would trigger an annoying second or 2 long clip of the summoned character’s “theme music.”
That might not sound too bad to you, but try summoning Black Cat 5 times in a row, see what happens.
Yeah, pretty fuckin’ annoying, right?
*Ahem!* Moving on, the movesets for the 2 protagonists were pretty well thought out for their time.
In addition to the classic one button punch combos, throws, and 2 button screen clearing attacks; both Spider-Man and Venom had the ability to run, jump, backflip, (useful for finding items, hidden areas, and nothing else) climb walls in the background, block attacks with their webbing, swing from web lines, grab enemies with their webbing/symbiote, and even slam 2 enemies’ heads together ala Batman in the Batman Returns game on the Super NES.
While most of these features were elementary for the most part, the addition of the web based moves added a lot to the experience.
In addition to giving the player added flexibility to their approach to various fights, an important factor given how absurdly overpowered some of the bosses could be; the web attacks also served to make good use of the Spider-Man license.
On a side note, while some of the character art… and animations… and backgrounds; are kind of shitty, I’ve always felt that LJN did a pretty decent job with the Spider-Man, and in particular; the Venom sprites.
Not that they managed to do anything else right in the entirety of their game developing existence, but that’s besides the point…
Both are animated fluidly, though Spider-Man looks kind of weird given his oddly dick-shaped head and lack of web pattern on his suit.
I always thought it was cool how both had their own unique animations, with Spider-Man’s being more graceful and Venom’s being more brutish.
One thing that kind of sucked, was the fact that Venom was definitely the more difficult character to use than Spider-Man.
As a kid, I always picked him every chance I got, though his slightly slower attack speed and harder levels made for an experience I rarely made it to the end of.
While Maximum Carnage was indeed only an average (at best) game, my memories of it run very deep.
I remember reading the comic arc around the same time I played the game, and to this day I feel the harsh atmosphere and violent content of the game do well to live up to the original story.
Nevermind that the comic itself was actually kind of shitty, but bear in mind; I was a young and mostly stupid Azn Badger when I read it, so Venom and a healthy dose of violence were pretty much all I needed to be impressed.
Besides my personal attachment to the source material, another silly little bit of nostalgia worth noting, was the fact that the game cartridge WAS FUCKING RED.
Remember the stupid fuckin’ gimmick of the golden Legend of Zelda carts?
Remember how many fuckin’ copies that game sold?
Well, my guess is LJN was hoping to cash in on the “colored cart” gimmick; and for all intents and purposes, it worked.
Just ask Killer Instinct…
I’m not saying the game sold all that well, (my guess is: it didn’t) but for me and my friends, the promise of a BLOOD/CARNAGE RED cart to shove into our Super NES’ was one that was awful tempting.
Anyway, another little gimmick, and one that I never really found any reason to get excited about, even as a kid; was the fact that LJN recruited the rock band Green Jelly to do some of the music for the game.
Now, I don’t know about you; but the only thing I really remember about Green Jelly, was the fact that they did that retardedly awesome rock version of “The Bear Went Over the Mountain” they used in Dumb and Dumber:
While that was indeed really fuckin’ awesome, please bear in mind that I hadn’t even seen Dumb and Dumber by the time I was playing Maximum Carnage.
Oh yeah, and I was a fuckin’ 7 year old kid that was still listening to a GREEN audio cassette of the Ninja fuckin’ Turtles in place of music.
Anyway, Green Marmalade did the soundtrack for the game, and I’ve gotta’ say; while I don’t really know what their songs are/were like, they did a pretty good job with the score for Maximum Carnage.
The score has an appropriately hard rock sound to it, in that the comic arc itself had a mosh pit sort of vibe to it, with Carnage’s mistress, Shriek; acting as the psychic ringmaster to an ongoing street riot in New York for much of the story.
As such, the soundtrack for Maximum Carnage has a very aggressive and sometimes dark sound to it that lends a sense of legitimacy to some of the more serious moments in the narrative.
Just listen the track they use during the cutscenes, it’s simple, but pretty fuckin’ sinister if you ask me:
Standing out as a highlight in the soundtrack though, is the boss music from Maximum Carnage.
Bearing a highly energetic tempo, the boss theme sounds very much the product of a hard rock band:
Truth be told, I really only like the first half of the track, when the primary (digitized) guitar riffs are front and center; however that isn’t to say the track isn’t great from a technical perspective.
My issue with the second half of the track, is that it comes across as being “too fun” for my tastes.
The first half sounds like the background to a fuckin’ supervillain beat down, while the second half sounds a little bit too colorful for it’s own good.
That’s just me though.
Anyway, this has been another (long overdue) installment of the Best Boss Music, tune in tomorrow!