While I wasn’t there with you day one during the Disruptor and Spyro the Dragon days on the PSOne, I came to love your studio and games dearly in the PS2 era thanks to the fantastic Ratchet and Clank games. The first Ratchet game on the PS3, Future: Tools of Destruction as well as the launch title Resistance: Fall of Man were both system sellers for me when I finally took the plunge and got a PlayStation 3 for Christmas 2007 after the first price drop.
During this year’s annual E3 event this past June, the announcement that made me leap from my chair in excitement during the Sony press conference, even though I spoiled its existence for myself, was the announcement that you were developing a brand new, PS4 exclusive Spider-Man game. To make it clear just how big a deal this was, this was also the same E3 press conference that started with a live orchestra that was there to reveal the next chapter in the somewhat dormant God of War franchise and also featured the surprise reveal of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, which also had a playable demo similar to P.T.
Spider-Man is not only my favourite comic book character of all time, but one of my favourite fictional characters period, and for someone who loves to play and talk about comic book video games, it has been sad to see the massive quality dip that the Spider-Man games have been as of late. After a small comeback of sorts with Beenox’s 2010 title Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, things once again started to slide downwards with the rushed to release follow-up Spider-Man: Edge of Time and two movie titles that ranged from okay, to absolutely terrible. With you, Insomniac, at the helm, we could finally see a Spider-Man game that not only returns the character to the greatness of games like Spider-Man (2000) and Ultimate Spider-Man, but could potentially rival WB Games’ Arkham franchise.
But Insomniac, as someone who loves your work as well as Spider-Man, and I’m not trying to tell you how to do your job here, but please refrain from using any type of symbiote related character in your Spider-Man game: Venom, Carnage, Toxin, Anti-Venom, even the hint at an alien costume, outside of perhaps an alternate collectible costume, please just leave it out. If you look back on a short history of Spider-Man games going as far back as the SNES/Sega Genesis, most of have either a plot that revolves around a symbiote character, features one, or has them as a playable character. Here’s a short list off of the top of my head:
- Spider-Man/Venom: Maximum Carnage
- Spider-Man/Venom: Separation Anxiety
- Spider-Man: The Animated Series (Venom is the final boss)
- Spider-Man (2000)
- Ultimate Spider-Man
- Spider-Man 3
- Spider-Man: Friend or Foe (Venom is a playable partner)
- Spider-Man: Web of Shadows
- Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions
- Spider-Man: Edge of Time
- The Amazing Spider-Man 2
- Disney Infinity 2.0: Ultimate Spider-Man Play Set
About the only games post Maximum Carnage that didn’t make that list were the first two Spider-Man movie games as well as the first The Amazing Spider-Man title, Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro, and the DS/GBA exclusives Spider-Man: Battle for New York. Spider-Man: Mysterio’s Menace and Spider-Man 2: The Sinister Six.
The symbiote family of characters are ones that have been overdone in video games and they’re not really that good characters in which to build an entire game upon. Carnage is just a serial character and the rivalry present between Venom and Spider-Man is not nearly as interesting as that between better, more classic villains like Green Goblin, or more recently, Doctor Octopus. Venom hasn’t even been a villain for quite some time in the ongoing Spider-Man comics, though sadly it looks like that might be changing soon, and though it might be an unpopular opinion, the character has been far more interesting as a hero with Flash Thompson as the host of the premiere protoplasmic protagonist. So okay, I’ll make ONE exception, you can use Venom but ONLY if it’s either A) Agent Venom or B) Venom: Space Knight.
While interesting things were done in the Ultimate Spider-Man comics regarding the origin of Venom, making it linked to the Parker/Brock family and also rewriting the origin of the suit to make it terrestrial as opposed to extraterrestrial, neither Venom nor Carnage have really been used in any interesting way in almost a decade and a half, other than to see they look cool. I will admit, both Venom and his spawn have great looking profiles and visual designs, but I also thought that once upon a time Spawn was really cool. You know when I thought that? In the 90’s, which is where the symbiote characters profile really rose as Marvel ditched classic villains to make darker characters more in-line with what Todd McFarlane and company were doing at Image. Image and other companies outside of the “Big Two” are still around and gobbling up lots of market share, I’m sure sales of The Walking Dead and Saga alone trump most of both DC and Marvel’s books combined, but characters and groups like Spawn and Youngblood are nowhere to be seen because they’re very much of their time, just like symbiotes are.
Insomniac, if you’re looking for villains to populate your new Spider-Man game, who like the Arkham series could perhaps bleed into further games, look towards the classic villains. Norman Osborn, AKA the Green Goblin, has grown from in the past decade or more from being a threat not only to Spider-Man, but the ENTIRE Marvel Universe, even going as far as eliminating S.H.I.E.L.D and rebranding it as H.A.M.M.E.R. Another villain, Doctor Octopus, has risen to become Spider-Man’s most deadly foe for the sheer fact that he scored one of the largest victories against him: he effectively “killed” him and took over being Spider-Man, leading to over a year of stories in the comics while will surely go down as a classic, Superior Spider-Man.
There’s also the case of a villain who while associated with one of the most hated Spider-Man stories, the Clone Saga, has only appeared in one video game but would be incredibly interesting if done right: Miles “The Jackal” Warren. The Jackal is the lead villain in the just started Clone Conspiracy in the Spider-Man comics. He was also a large part of the Spider-Island event several years ago where everyone in New York City was given spider-powers but eventually turned into giant spider monsters; That alone would make for a cool game in and of itself. More so than being a physical opponent for Spider-Man, The Jackal works best when toying with Peter Parker’s life, such as in the Clone Saga where he convinced Peter that his life was a fraud, or in the Clone Conspiracy where both friends and foes alike are coming back from the dead.
Given that the initial trailer for your Spider-Man game was under two-minutes long, I have a feeling Insomniac that your game is probably more than a year or two out and by all means, take your time. Stalwart fans have combed through the trailer and right now, the only hinted at villains are Mister Negative, referenced from his inner demons mob attacking Spider-Man, and the Oscorp tower, meaning either Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin or both, exist in your new universe. That these two were the ones people have uncovered and not a lurking, alien costume monster is promising and I hope that within the coming months in new trailers, previews and interviews we hear more about Doc Ock’s role in the plot or Green Goblin’s. At the very least if your dead set on including either a Venom or a Carnage, at least save them for a future sequel instead of having them show up in what will hopefully be a magnificent debut.
Face Front True Believers,