This week saw the launch of Spawn: Resurrection, an attempt by Image to inject life back into the character made popular in the 90’s by creator Todd McFarlane by bringing original Spawn Al Simmons back from the dead (undead?) and hiring writer Paul Jenkins (Marvel Knight’s Inhumans) to oversee the character’s new direction. Two Halloween’s ago I reviewed every Spawn game published to date and today in celebration of the characters resurgence, I thought it would be fun to do a quick run down of the top five Spawn games, starting things off with…
5) SPAWN THE ETERNAL (PSOne)
1997 was the “Year of Spawn” and the real high point of the characters popularity. It saw the debut of the well reviewed Spawn animated series on HBO, the release of the first and only live-action Spawn film to date and the second video game to star the character, Spawn the Eternal on the PSOne. Trying to be both a 3-D figther a la Tekken and an exploration game likened to Eidos/Core’s Tomb Raider, Spawn the Eternal succeeded at neither. Poor controls in both fighting and exploring combined with a steep difficulty that makes it near impossible to finish the game on easy without using a cheat code, Spawn’s first ever 3-D outing is best left in the ground.
4) SPAWN: ARMAGEDDON (GC/PS2/XBOX)
The last game to star Spawn to date was an attempt to capitalize on 3-D action games like Devil May Cry without the deep combat and customizable skills to make it interesting or fun to play. The plot of the game attempts to recount plot lines that actually happened in the pages of the comic, but awkward transitions between stages and cut-scenes that don’t really explain what’s going on make the story difficult for anyone to follow unless you’re the most die-hard Spawn fan. While not as bad as Spawn the Eternal, in fact the game is totally playable, there’s much better games of this type on the market to make this worth your time.
3) SPAWN (GAME BOY COLOR)
Normally Konami is pretty reliable when it comes to their licensed titles, so the prospect of a Spawn side-scroller on the Game Boy Color seemed like a pretty sure thing…until it turned out not to be. While the not the worst licensed game you’ll play, Spawn is a generic, mediocre experience from the company who defined the NES/SNES with games just like this. The package is made a little bit worse by a short play length and graphics that look like they were made in a basic paint program.
2) SPAWN: IN THE DEMON’S HAND (DREAMCAST/ARCADE)
Capcom has made some of the best super hero games to date in the VS. Series and X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse, but there first and last attempt at the Spawn license is a bizarre game that’s very much of its time. Borrowing a page from games like Unreal and Quake III, Spawn: In the Demon’s Hand is an arena shooter where players are thrown into an arena with popular characters from the comics with the simple goal of surviving by any means necessary. It can be fun with the right people and frame of mind, but the controls for aiming and shooting, in that you can’t do both at the same time, give this game a primitive feeling that will be difficult for anyone who grew up in the post Call of Duty shooter era to grasp before they move onto something else.
1) TODD MCFARLANE’S SPAWN (SNES)
In a way, Spawn’s popularity as a character almost directly lines up right with his appearance in video games: He stared out with a bang in the mid-90’s and hasn’t really been quite the same since. I’ve been pretty hard on the other Spawn games, and that’s because they’re really only good at best and all over shadowed by the character’s first game on the SNES. Todd McFarlane’s Spawn is an underrated gem in the SNES library with tight controls, beautiful animation, a gothic soundtrack and screen filling bosses.Normally when you saw a licensed game published by Acclaim in the 16-bit era it meant 90% of the time to look on the shelf for something else, but in the case of Todd McFarlane’s Spawn, that was the complete opposite.