The original Spawn game for the Playstation was hailed by many as one of the worst games ever to grace the gray box. In trying to create an atmosphere similar to the comic it really just created a variety of corridors to run through with lame fights sprinkled in between. The sheer boredom that it caused is only rivaled by watching fingernails grow. It was so bad that Todd McFarlane, creator of Spawn, refused to sell it on his website alongside other Spawn merchandise.
In an attempt to clear the name of Spawn in the video game industry Capcom has created an arena fighting game featuring tons of characters and fast insane action. By arena fighter I mean that the characters interact with the walls and objects around them instead of being on an abandoned platform. This time around Spawn is being put onto the Dreamcast in hopes that better detailed characters will reap better gameplay.
There are a variety of different modes that utilize the fighting engine of the game. You can either go up against the bosses one by one and try to defeat them and their minions or you can challenge up to three other opponents in a free for all or a team battle. The different modes are actually different unlike most fighting games that repeat the same game with new slightly different rules. The boss mode seems like the main game while the arena fighting games are the equivalent to the death match modes in first person games. Alone they would not make a complete game, but coupled with the original game, you are given one extensive package.
As in most fighting games of late there are a number of items to collect. Each victory yeilds something new such as a hidden character so that the game will not get repetitive. Sure you are playing through the same levels, but you are using new characters so it is fresh (or so the developers hope). There is also a weapon collection screen that details what weapons you have used and what secret ones you have found. This is so that you can tell your parents that the game is really not all about killing and maiming but rather about collecting and discovery. Yeah right.
Well we had to come to control sooner or later. It is hard to believe that the company that introduced arena fighting on the Dreamcast with Power Stone, which had such smooth control, could take such a huge step backward with Spawn. Though the game is fast and the action is intense, most of the time the angles of the fights are so bad that you cannot even tell if you are winning. This is especially annoying for the characters that have to aim their attacks. Much of this difficulty has to do with two words: No Analog. I mean c'mon. The game is set in 3-D environments. How can there only be 8 directions in which to walk? It is ludicrous. If and when this game comes out in the states, they better fix this.
There is one slight advantage to the spinning camera and the simplistic jerky control. That combined with the explosive attacks makes for a very cinematic comic book style action. Though the some of the views suck for aiming the attacks look great. One of the best examples of this feature is when you are attacking from a higher level than you opponent. Comic book heroes are always jumping off of rooftops and large structures and shit. It is the best way to execute a kick to the head. So when you take all of these cinematic camera stylings and combine it with dark grisly environments you get a game that looks like you would expect a Spawn game to look.
It is such a shame a game with such great character design (taken mostly from McFarlane's brilliant designs and such a great cinematic feel could be so frustrating to control. This in turn makes the character unresponsive to what you are trying to do and as a result, you get your ass kicked. Nothing sucks more than repeatedly getting your ass kicked and not being able to do anything about it. Thankfully the bosses get easier the more you lose to them.
So if you are a huge Spawn fan and you are looking to take the bad taste out of your mouth left by the Playstation atrocity then you will find it in Capcom's new endeavor. If however you are looking for a solid arena fighting game, stick with Power Stone 2. It may not have the gruesome decapitations featured in Spawn but at least you will be able to control what you are doing.
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