A playthrough of Acclaim’s 1995 license-based beat ’em up for the Super Nintendo, Todd McFarlane’s Spawn: The Video Game.
Spawn’s game barely registered as a blip on the radar when it was released in the waning days of the SNES’s relevance, but those that were still invested in the platform received something quite special here.
Todd McFarlane’s Spawn: The Video Game is a 2D side-scrolling platformer/beat ’em up with an edgy, gritty aesthetic that draws heavily from the comic upon which it is based. If your first impulse is to dump it in the ignore pile because of the Acclaim logo on the box, take heart: it was actually developed by Ukiyotei, who had already thoroughly proved themselves with Hook and Skyblazer.
Unlike those titles, though, this one is far darker in tone, and it focuses much more closely on hand-to-hand combat than it does on standard platforming conventions.
Taking up the mantle of Spawn (the undead figure of Al Simmons, an ex-government agent who traded his life for superpowers), you’ve got to save thirteen children who have been taken by your “creator,” Malebolgia.
The game plays out in a fashion fairly similar to that of Capcom’s X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse: you have powers (both offensive and defensive in nature, executed with Street Fighter II-like commands) to supplement your array of standard punches and kicks. These powers draw upon your spirit, so while they all have their uses, you’ll need to be judicious in your use of them. If the spirit gauge hits zero, it’s curtains for Spawn, no matter his many lives he might have in reserve.
This system takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s well- balanced enough that you won’t find yourself in danger of this unless you rely on using those moves incessantly. The combat flows well, generally speaking, but it requires a lot of practice and a fair amount of memorization before it feels completely comfortable and fluid. Spawn is a rewarding game, but it’s not an easy one. Not by a long shot.
The graphics and sound are pretty amazing here, and it’s clear that the development team went to some lengths to ensure they showed McFarlane’s work its due respect. The cutscenes look phenomenal, using large, clear digitized images of comic panels, and in-game, there is a lot of detail and color strewn through the environments. The animation is also top-notch – just check out the way Spawn’s cape flows around him as he lays waste to the bad guys! The music is a good complement to the on-screen action too, with its subdued orchestrations being appropriately moody and somber. The soundtrack suits the anti-hero well.
Spawn isn’t a perfect game – it can be frustratingly difficult at points, and the gameplay grows a bit long in the tooth by the time you finally reach the end, but those things don’t stop it from being an extremely solid action game. Spawn might not hit the heights that Batman’s best 16-bit games did, but it has got style to spare, and it’ll satisfy anyone that enjoys a good beat ’em up.
No cheats were used during the recording of this video.
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