Before going any further, I must admit that I was only vaguely familiar with this game before playing it. I don't remember ever playing it in an arcade, so I don't have any nostalgia towards it whatsoever. Luckily though, Sega's 1991 Spider-Man beat 'em up has a solid foundation that makes it still a fun journey over 30 years later.
I often use the X-Men arcade game as a barometer when it comes to '90s beat 'em ups and Spider-Man: The Video Game arrived in arcades first by just a few months. The games are certainly similar, but Spider-Man does have a different feel to it when compared to Konami's games. One of the biggest differences is that throughout the game, the camera will zoom out and you'll have to deal with more platform-y kinda sections. This seemingly breaks up the monotony that often comes along with a beat 'em up, but they also slow the pace down a little bit. I generally liked them, but YMMV.
The beat 'em up portion of the game is fairly standard for the genre. I thought it felt a little sluggish compared to X-Men, but maybe it's just me. In general, I thought it lacked some of the polish that the Konami beat 'em ups, but it's still a fun game.
The game features all sorts of villains from the Spider-Man universe, such as Doctor Octopus, Kingpin, Green Goblin, and yes, Venom. The graphics do a great job of bringing all of the characters to life and feature lots of color and designs that stay true to their comic book origins. Plus there are some really nice touches like how dialog bubbles will pop up during attacks and the "BWAM" / "VOK" type damage messages display when you're battling it out.
You can also play with up to four players, matching the awesome multiplayer madness found in X-Men. In addition to Spider-Man, you can choose to play as Black Cat, Hawkeye, or Sub-Mariner.
So yeah, Spider-Man: The Video Game is a decent beat 'em up with a nice aesthetic and a bit of uniqueness due to its platforming sections. I definitely prefer X-Men, but if you're a fan of superhero beat 'em ups from this era, I'd definitely recommend checking this one out.
Played On: Arcade (MAME)
Completion Date: 2/10/23
Time: 44 minutes