Spider Slayers Seek Stupendous Revenge
The Amazing Spider-man 3: Invasion of the Spider-Slayers (1993 Game Boy Game)
I feel bad for Bits. I honestly do. They had to take paycheck jobs to keep their lights on, and they were saddled with the cranking out yearly entries in the SpidermanSure, DC Comics has Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, but among the most popular superheroes stands a guy from Marvel Comics, a younger hero dressed in red and blue who shoots webs and sticks to walls. Introduced in the 1960s, Spider-Man has been a constant presence in comics and more, featured in movies regularly since his big screen debut in 2002. franchise. Spider-man is great. Studios should be allowed to make fun games starring the web-slinging hero. Having to do fast-cranked games on a deadline would never lead to good games, and yet there was Bits, time and again, shoving out this fodder over and over again. I do feel bad.
That said, I don't feel that bad. The studio shoved out three terrible games -- The Amazing Spider-Man 2 on the Game Boy, Spider-Man: Return of the Sinister Six on the NES, and then The Amazing Spider-Man 3: Invasion of the Spider-Slayers back on the Game Boy -- and they did it with all the grace of a whale plunging towards the Earth, failing to grapple with it's own quickly ending existence. These games are bad, and this third entry on the Game Boy is the absolute worst.
The game features Spider-man getting caught up in a plan by Alistair Smythe to kill the web-head. Who is Alistair Smythe? Lord if I know. He's some D-list Spider-man villain that hadn't yet gotten used in a video game, so Bits shoved him into this title. He's about as useful to the plot as any other villain could be. But regardless, he wants to kill Spidey and so the web-head has to go after the villain to defend himself. Hero versus villain, just another day in the life of the Spider-man.
Frankly, the game approaches its plot in the clumsiest, half-assed way. Spider-man isn't called out by the villain to fight in some complex series of trap stages. No, Spidey is just out, dealing with muggers and skater punks when he finds Electro robbing a bank. Chasing the villain, Spider-man then comes across Alistair's spider-killing bots and, only then, does Spider-man realizing, "hey, maybe someone wants to kill me." That's not a plot for a game, it's just a random collection of happenstance moments that vaguely links together linearly. That is the whole game.
Although, let's be honest, this is barely a game. Although it clocks in at twenty minutes, most of that is wasted on single panel cut-scenes and end-level score screens. There's maybe ten minutes of actual game play in here, not that I'd even really say you were playing anything. Everything is short, rote, and barely qualifies as much of anything. This feels like half a game that was shoved out the door by the publisher before Bits was even done developing this three-quel at all.
I say this because most of the stages of the game are barely stages at all. Spidey says something in a cut-scene and then he's dropped into the stage. Frequently he walks two screens over, or climbs one tower for a short distance, and the stage is over. Then do this again about twelve more times and that's the whole game. The most laughable instance of this is Stage 5-1, the entrance to Smythe's secret hideout. You'd assume this would be a long tunnel sequence or something. Nope, Spidey drops into a hole, and then into a second hole down that tunnel, and then the stage is over. No enemies, no hazards, nothing. Literally just a couple of meaningless drops for a whole stage.
Not that I'd consider anything he has to fight any kind of real hazard. The game starts with you taking down muggers, who you can defeat with a single blow (amusingly, after you beat up a skater punk you can steal their skateboard and ride around for points and I wish the rest of the game was this amusingly dumb). Then there's electro, some spider robots, and the final spider-slayers. It's a handful of enemies at most, and none of them are programmed well or difficult to fight all. They all feel like placeholders, cardboard cut-outs stood in the place of enemies Bits was going to program in later.
The bosses are so dumb it's not even funny. By and large you can stand in one place, duck, and kick, and the bosses will kill themselves on your feet. This is not a fight, it's tedious button pushing. And that's all the combat in the game. When you're taking out muggers they'll walk up to you in the park, see you're Spider-man (since you're in full costume) and then try to rob you so you kick them, of course). That's it. The game doesn't understand doing anything well, or properly. It's just bad.
Now, I do feel like I have to credit Bits, as I always do, because they at least understand that Spidey should be able to do certain things. Here he can swing, wall climb, stick the ceilings, and do all the things a spider can do. He could do all that in their previous Game Boy adventure, though, so I don't feel like they deserve a ton of credit here. Hell, that game was more ambitious in many ways, with it's large, sprawling, interconnected map and vague, Metroidvania ideas. There's nothing ambitious here. This is just mindless tediousness.
I legitimately have to think this game was taken away from the studio when it was half done just to meet a deadline. "Can the game be played and beaten? Then who cares if it's done or not. Kids are dumb, they won't care." Seems like they did care, though, as this was the last game in this particular little series. After this there were no more Amazing Spider-man games from LJN or Acclaim. The studios would go on to crank out a few more (vaguely broken) titles, but the "Amazing" brand was burned, salted, and burned again after this.
Is this the fault of Bits? Well, they did make this game, but the publisher could have held off, given the studio a little more time to finish. They didn't. I'd say the blame should be spread around as Bits made it and Acclaim published it and in the end both names are on the package. But whoever is to blame, one thing is clear: don't play The Amazing Spider-man 3: Invasion of the Spider-Slayers. It's just bad.