Saturday, 3 October 2015

Spawn: The Eternal (1997) - Hourglass review

During the mid to late nineties, comic icon and entrepreneur, Todd Mcfarlane was pushing his character Spawn to become the next big household name. This period resulted in broad mediums being covered, some successfully such as the HBO (Bravo in the UK) late nigh animated serial and some less successfully; i.e. the field of video games from which Spawn: The Eternal rears its cowl of crap.

Following the mistake of placing this game in your system, the "plot" is revealed in a brief opening. Here, all the elements of 90s adolescence are on display. Grave, fire, cape, bats, skulls, more cape, Spawn and all encompassed by a theme ripped off from the movie Cape Fear. You may assume this would be a game involving steady amounts of cape; however you would be wrong, very wrong. In fact, this game is so far isolated from what one would want from the hero, antihero or majestic cape genre that I could bury it in the artic prior to leaving earth for some northern star only to be less remote by comparison. 

The game begins in the fiery pits of hell. It looks terrible and if you decide to do something revolutionary, such as turn left, Spawn will crank over to the corner with less charisma than a block of wood while the camera stares frozen at him in utter miserable disbelief. This camera, perhaps knowingly, simply refuses to follow you on your quest and will only budge if either A: You collide head first with it, whereupon it begrudgingly shuffles beyond you refusing to move ever again or B: you find an opponent and enter one on one combat, which fixes the camera to a side view allowing a view of just what in the whole of hell is going on.

When he does turn around, with a pace that can only be described as tomorrow, players will be filled with horror to behold the mess Sony's graphics division has unleased upon the world. Spawn contains approximately three colours, one being fur, and resembles a structurally unsound Jenga tower bounded by opium addicts.

   elementary, my dear Watson.

Once this monstrosity leaves hell, in a manner faithful to all renaissance literature, by striding through automated doors, you are transported to a subway containing his mortal enemies: white man with sunglasses and black man with ‘tash.

The state of combat goes something like this: black man with ‘tash moves forward, Spawn moves forward, black man with ‘tash moves closer toward him, Spawn moves closer toward him, following this both spam kick repeatedly until the winner is decided. Punches can be used, however they hold no range whatsoever and any magic used will deplete the power meter making Spawn keel over and die. Since the kick is all you will need to complete the game, I wouldn’t worry about it at all and enjoy the dynamite feel of that action button whilst internally lamenting your disillusionment knowing you are involved in some horrid 3D equivalent of Rock ‘em Robots.

"fear my foot, you tashy mistake!"

Realising all too soon these challenging feats could barely contain the sheer levels of fun, the developers included complex puzzles in the game such as unlock the gate using the gate key! These keys along with the special items are found by painstakingly traversing each level while the camera, still frozen in shocked awe, observes you scrambling to locate boxes and bins standing over half your stature. By tapping investigate, Spawn kicks out like an angst filled toddler making the bin explode. If only you had a similar superpower to recycle this garbage.

Fun 1/5 This game perfectly recreates the excitement of a homeless man wandering through his own private purgatorial hell.

Graphics 2/5 Spawn and his enemies have never before looked so hellish, so grim, so gobsmackingly bad.
Longevity 5/5 There is no more apt a title than “The eternal” there are four stages in this game and you'll struggle to find a wasted day where you're crazy enough to play through a single one of them.
Endpoint 2/5 Spawn stands as a monument to the philosophy that medium crosses are predestined for eternal failure by representing the very foundations on which to design a bad game. 

Interesting notes:
An online playthrough by user silenig contains this faux Sony licensing disclaimer “The reputation of this product as one of the worst comic book games ever made, and the suffering it caused to the fans that purchased it legitimately, are legendary, even in hell. Spawn is pretty bad, but not quite as bad as people say…it feels more like a beta than a full game and it can get so frustrating that cheats are used.”

By running the game in a CD player, a hidden interview can be found with Mcfarlane discussing how he wanted the game to “convey not so much the details of Spawn but the attitude.”

Hourglass Recommends:
Batman: Arkham City (2011), Shadowman (1999), Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver (1999).

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