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Spider-Man & Venom: Separation Anxiety (SNES) artwork

Spider-Man & Venom: Separation Anxiety (SNES) review

"Sit still. Breathe, blink a few times. Prepare for the most illuminating, hell-harbingering revelation the gaming world has ever seen. Prepare for the naked truth about the miserable Separation Anxiety: "

Sit still. Breathe, blink a few times. Prepare for the most illuminating, hell-harbingering revelation the gaming world has ever seen. Prepare for the naked truth about the miserable Separation Anxiety:

Acclaim has created the Love! Big Brother of brawlers.

And I'm not talking any ambiguous/boundary-pushing bosses of Streets of Rage lore. I'm talking about a game, from heels to halter, which oozes the same sense of brotherness the Ai-Choaniki series exudes.

Now, to set the record straight, I have no problem with the choices Separation Anxiety made. It can do whatever it wishes. My problem is with what I must play, what intrudes on my console.

Spider-Man and Venom re-seize the reigns they held in Maximum Carnage, a near-perfect beat-'em-up game, this time starring in a two-player adventure. The two-player addition is the sole improvement over the original, though. You see, our heroes are not what they used to be.

Venom, once a mass of rage and muscle, now seems to be part of some science fiction ballet. His costume, which is supposed to be a living, powerful creature, appears here as a finely-washed spandex jumpsuit, perfect for hugging his now-dainty legs and talk-of-the-town buttocks. He has lost his ferocious, maneating physique, and instead seems to be ferociously manseeking. Perform actions with Venom; he clings to the wall is if ready to be frisked by any passerby; or pick up a thug... he walks cowboy-style to carry his date to their destination.

But Venom's the butch. Spider-Man has been downsized even more, losing all of his once strong, nimble presence, replaced by an unimposing and perhaps cowardly stance. Spider-Man now walks as if scared Venom will beat him should their secret be revealed. Spider-Man now appears to have real problems doing backflips and such. As if he has some problem with his butt, or something.

And so the heroes do trudge, though, through a game playing as much like a busted Maximum Carnage as it can. The agility and reflex of our protagonists flew out the same window through which their manliness abandoned them, so the control is now lacking most of the fun. Web-slinging and wall-crawling are now completely useless, superficial functions of the game. This takes the game from its excellent blending of classic brawler elements fused with well-implemented Spider-Man elements to just plain brawling. Only not as good.

They didn't add more moves to compensate for the spider-specific fun they removed, so they basically stripped our already stripped heroes of what little dignity they could attempt to retain. They must have been too busy shrinking the sprites and shaving Venom's legs to worry about any sort of balance-keeping or entertainment-making.

Not only are our warriors one step away from thongs and baby oil, they've been expressed graphically to deliver the same face-splattering [(c)2002, Skinny Puppy] impact the famous shooter brothers give. Spider-Man and Venom are soft in their shading, as are the hues of the back alleys in which they fumble about. Significantly smaller than their earlier appearance, they seem suited to their equally softened and smallened backdrops.

Flushing away the superb Green Jelly soundtrack of the first game, Separation Anxiety anxiously brings forth its own brand of musical mediocrity. Music was purely an afterthought for this cartridge; as tempting as it must have been to license a few classics such as ''It's Raining Men'' or ''Let's Hear it for the Boys,'' the crafters of this grave-spitter focused their efforts instead on trashing the gameplay and visual elements of this game... its lackluster soundtrack of primitive quality was merely a byproduct of misplaced, masochistic efforts elsewhere.

Does it ever improve? Ever shed its newly-found connotations?

No. Separation Anxiety is a sterling example of why lightning never strikes twice. It wasn't good enough for Acclaim to just make a sequel inferior to its predecessor. It wasn't enough for them to simply take the same game and repackage it with a two-player mode and call it a new game. They had aspirations; they set out to truly outdo themselves. They succeeded. They crafted an ultimately sissified, disgrace of a sequel, and, perhaps inadvertently (not likely though), the flimsiest brawler ever released.

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Community review by sinner (March 14, 2004)

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