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Spider-Man: Return of the Sinister Six

Moby ID: 22518
SEGA Master System Specs
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From the ingame intro:

"Doctor Octopus is plotting the crowning caper of his criminal career... to rule the world. He has reunited the Sinister Six and with these super-villains together again, nothing stands in their way - except Spider-Man!"

Spider-Man: Return of the Sinister Six is a side-scrolling game which puts you in the role of Spidey throughout six levels against Electro, Sandman, Mysterio, Vulture, Hobgoblin and Doctor Octopus respectively. Some puzzle solving (like finding a key) is necessary to beat some levels. Spidey can duck jump, climb walls, punch, shoot webs to swing (by pressing punch and jump together) and perform a jump kick (by pressing the punch button twice). Collecting web cartridges allows Spidey to shoot limited web projectiles.

Although hard to die, Spidey has only one life, there are no items to recharge life (but killing some guys will do so) and only one continue.

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Credits (SEGA Master System version)

9 People



Average score: 64% (based on 19 ratings)


Average score: 2.9 out of 5 (based on 29 ratings with 4 reviews)

A decent NES Spider-Man

The Good
This is a game that I used to play on my NES way back when I was a kid, I still have it, though haven't played it in years, so I busted it out to give it another whirl. Now I have found that much of the time going back and playing a game that you loved back in the day turns out to be less than thrilling, comparatively, because games have come such a long way since then. However this game is just as addicting as it was then. It is challenging, but not so much so that you want to through your controller into to wall in frustration.

The action is fast paced, and at times you really get the feel that you are Spider-Man. You can climb certain walls, and use your web to swing from buildings and other objects (this ability is unlimited, and does not need web cartridges). Most of the boss fights are pretty entertaining, the hit detection is fairly good, and the enemies explode into little pieces when they die, which I actually think is kind of satisfying, although I know another reviewer here thought it was kind of dumb, which is understandable (because it honestly doesn't make any sense) but keep in mind many of these types of games back then would have the enemies just fall down and flicker a bit and then disappear, and in the Master System version of this game they disappear in some kind of lame very small puff of smoke or something. So I kind of like the exploding.

The Bad
The game though is not without it's faults. The attacks you can perform are limited, a punch, a jumping kick, and if you are lucky enough to find a web cartridge you can shoot web projectiles. Although at least he does actually jump when he kicks in this version, as he does not in the Master System version, which is a big deal, because this is the only attack you can perform while moving.

The Bottom Line
There are some things that are not necessarily good or bad. The music is catchy, but repetitive. There are only 3 different tunes in this game, the title screen theme, and 2 other themes that they alternate between the stages, which isn't too horrible, since this game isn't really all that long anyway, but I'm sure they could have fit a few more on to the cartridge. The graphics are okay, but nothing to write home about, you could certainly do worse on the NES. The controls are tight enough to get the job done, but sometimes they can be flaky, like when you are trying to swing with your web, or every once in a while a punch won't register, but nothing game breaking or anything. It is overall a very playable game, even in 2009, which is saying something. Just stay away from the Master System version, this is much better. If you want to know why, you can read my review of the MS version on this site as well.

NES · by Magus_X (111) · 2009

The Slightly Above Average Spider-Man

The Good
Spider-Man: Return Of the Sinister Six (1992) has all the makings of a great video game.

Not only is Spider-Man one of the most famous comic book characters around, but designers of the game had only to look at the original Spider-Man (1990) game for the Game Boy, in order to get a sense of how best to bring the famous “web-head” to the NES. No re-invention of the wheel was required in this case.

In 1990, LJN had the folks at Rare program the Amazing Spider-Man for the original, black and white Game Boy system. While it is not a perfect game, it is the basic format that most of the good Spider-Man video games have adopted and fine tuned.

Great potential existed for Spider-Man: Return Of the Sinister Six (1992) to really shine in terms of graphics, music, sound effects and game play. Heck, the designers of the game could have borrowed the actual plot from the Sinister Six storyline.

Doctor Octopus first formed the Sinister Six in Amazing Spider-Man Annual 1 (1964), and ended up kidnapping Betty Bryant and Aunt May.

The evil criminal gang was assembled once more by Doctor Octopus in The Amazing Spider-Man issues #334-33 (1990). It is this newer version of the evil criminal gang that this NES game seems to be taking its cues from (at least when you look at game’s artwork).

In 1990, Doctor Octopus reassembles the Sinister Six (replacing the late Kraven the Hunter with the demonically possessed Hobgoblin) to take over the world by hijacking a space satellite and using an experimental drug designed to eliminate heroin addiction.

Initially, Doctor Octopus tells everyone, including his criminal partners, that, the drug is going to be a deadly poison, to be released if the world governments fail to comply with his demands.

Yet, in reality the drug makes it impossible for addicts to “get their fix” and thus (if released into the atmosphere), addictions (and drug dealers) would need to obey Doctor Octopus in order to gain access to a temporary antidote.

This is an interesting storyline, especially when the Sandman had to be blackmailed into joining the Sinister Six, with some amazing artwork. While, the censors might have insisted that the comic book storyline been modified, it still could be adapted into a great video game storyline.

So, Spider-Man: Return Of the Sinister Six could be a great video game without "reinventing" the wheel. The basic game play mechanics and story line are readily on-hand for the designers of this game to use. What could possible go wrong?

The Bad
Spider-Man: Return Of the Sinister Six (1992) suffers from graphics that are slightly above average. While you can recognize the familiar characters, it is a far cry from being "Amazing" .

Spider-Man actually spends most of his time trying to avoid fighting. This strategy is something that the programmers of this game -- B.I.T.S. -- used when it made Spider-Man 2 and 3 for the Game Boy.

Except for the boss battles, success in the levels generally requires you to avoid (run away) from most of the enemies or locate an item needed to solve a puzzle (i.e. in the Sandman's level you have to find TNT and a detonator in order to blow up a thin wall).

I can appreciate the desire to try and highlight the fact that Peter Parker (a.k.a. Spider-Man) is actually quite intelligent. However, B.I.T.S.efforts to remind us that Spider-Man has got super brains as well as super powers never panned out well.

Action-wise, Spider-Man can only punch, duck, kick, jump, climb certain walls and swing on a web.

The wall-crawling ability is pretty much useless in the game, and while you have unlimited web fluid for swinging on a web, you almost never get the ability to shoot web projectiles.

Spider-Man can only shoot web projectiles in the game if he can find one of the rare web cartridge icons in the game. If he has unlimited web fluid to swing like Tarzan, why can't he use some of that fluid to shoot some web projectiles?

Each of the six levels in the game are actually fairly short, and, again, success is largely based on running away from (or jumping over) minor thugs and bird droppings until you get to the boss.

Defeating the bosses, much like defeating any of the minor thugs, is difficult largely because of the poor control mechanics and the fact that this version of Spider-Man has few offensive moves and almost no real use for his super powers.

Pressing the 'B" button in the game makes your character jump, which is the opposite of how just about every other NES game was programmed.

Even if you overlook the game play reversal, hit detection is inconsistent, and their are lots of little weird things in the game that suggest that development was rushed.

Spider-Man, minor thugs and most of the bosses actually explode into four little pieces whenever they die. I can understand the censorship rules against "graphic violence" that existed, but why not have the characters fall down.

Heck, some of the bosses in the game do fall down when they are defeated and it looks fine. So, I have no idea why the designers chose to go with this silly looking animation death sequence, except that maybe it was easier to have characters break apart into little pieces.

What about the story? Well, Doctor Octopus is plotting to take over the world, but how he plans on doing that -- or what the various members of the Sinister Six are doing to further this plan -- are left unanswered.

While the game box artwork and the pre-level intermission sequences are clearly based on the 1990 Amazing Spider-Man comic book series, no effort was made to adapt the storyline into the video game.

The final level in the game, oddly enough, seems to take place in a Castle or estate Mansion (just outside of a park). I say, "oddly" because that is actually taken from the original comic book battle between Spider-Man and the Sinister Six, circa 1964

The first time that Spider-Man battled the Sinister Six (in Amazing Spider-Man Annual 1, 1964), Doctor Octopus's secret lair is located in large estate.

Yet, the video game's artwork, and featured enemies is clearly based off of Amazing Spider-Man issues #334-33 (1990). Heck, the design of Doctor Octopus is based off of how he looked in the 1964 comic book.

Again, I can understand that some elements of the 1990 comic book story line would have to be modified in order to avoid any potentially taboo subject matter (the comic book storyline is being critical of both drug addiction and certain aspects of drug prohibition).

However, Spider-Man: Return Of The Sinister Six needs to have some sort of storyline, and explanation for the different locations in the game, even if it is not a great or complicated storyline.

Otherwise you are left with six, largely unconnected stages that somehow have something to do with Doctor Octopus wanting to take over the world.

Lastly, something should be said about the game's music. I may be wrong, but I believe that this game has only two (maybe three) different sound tracks on this game. As a result, you get to become VERY familiar with music, especially when level's music will start over, should you pause and un-pause the game

The Bottom Line
Spider-Man's NES adventure is less "Amazing" and more "Adequate" (read: "slightly above average"). Spider-Man fans looking for a better, retro gaming experience starring the wall-crawler may want to check out Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin (Sega Genesis/CD) or Spider-Man: The Animated Series (Acclaim, SNES).

NES · by Edward TJ Brown (118) · 2015

An inferior port of an above average NES game.

The Good
This is actually a pretty fun game...on the NES. The Master System version is inferior in all ways except one: graphics. It’s a shame because the in game visuals are upgraded quite a bit, with a noticeably higher color palette. The added colors make the game look much brighter, resulting in a more comic book like look. However, for some reason the cool screens that occur before each level, introducing the member of the Sinister Six you will be fighting at the end of the stage (for example the one before the first stage shows Electro shooting some bolts, and Spider-Man dodging them) have been chopped up, and only include the villain's face next to a cheesy looking head shot of Spider-Man.

The Bad
Well, where to begin. First off it was only released in PAL regions, and like many NTSC to PAL ports the timing is off, and the developer that ported it was to lazy to fix it. So it runs noticeably slower than the NES version. This cannot be fixed on your Master System, but if you dump it to your computer and play with an emulator, and change the region to NTSC, it runs at a much better speed.

Second are the controls, which have degraded severely in the NES-Master System conversion. The responsiveness of the buttons is a bit lower, and the hit detection is horrible. For a hit to register on some enemies sometimes you have to be basically on top of him, others you need to be almost out of arms reach, it's quite frustrating.

Third there is the sound, which suffered greatly during the port. The music sounds muffled, and a lot of the sound effects are either missing or very faint.

Fourth are all of the enemies that were cut out, or changed. Many enemies in the Mysterio stage were taken out or severely reduced in quantity, which is a shame because that was probably the funniest level on the NES. Also in another level, Vulture would fly by and drop bombs on you, but in the MS version he is missing completely, instead bombs just fall from thin air. Also some enemies are still in the game, but look pretty dumb compared to their NES counterparts, as I said before the color pallet is better in this version, but yellow shirts and green pants is an undeniably bad choice for armed thugs.

Fifth there is the enemy AI, which was nothing special in the NES version, but is pretty bad in this one. Not as noticeable on the normal enemies, but the bosses are horrible. For example there are a few bosses that teleport from one spot to the other to try to confuse you, which made the fight more interesting on the NES. But in the MS version it takes a ridiculously long time for them to reappear, and you have to run around like an idiot for sometimes up to 20-30 seconds to get them to reappear. Then when they do appear it usually isn't anywhere near where you are, 90% of the time it's on a higher or lower platform, and they will walk over to the spot that is directly above or below you and stand there like an invalid, punching at nothing for a good while, until the disappear and reappear in another location far away from Spider-Man. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

Speaking of the boss fights, there are a couple fights (Stage 3 and 6) that were changed significantly, one of which pretty much ruined the battle because they took away the only thing that was unique about it. I won’t give away any spoilers, but just trust me on this one.

Now for the last and MOST IMPORTANT reason this game is inferior to the NES game it was ported from, a flaw that cripples your attack capability: Spider-Man’s jump kick, or lack thereof here. Oh yes, you can kick in this game by double tapping punch same as the NES, but he stands stationary and kicks, instead of leaping and inch or two like he did on the NES. Standing still, the kick actually has shorter range than the punch making it completely useless. It might do more damage than the punch, but I can’t say for sure, since I only hit an enemy a few times with it, throughout the whole game! If you are wondering why this is such a big deal, is because you only have 2 attacks: the punch and the kick, and you can only perform a punch while standing still. The kick was essential to defeating some bosses, because it allowed you to attack airborne enemies by executing a kick from the edge of platforms. In some cases, you can use your web projectiles, but after the first level, I could probably count on my fingers (with a few left over) the amount of web cartridges you find throughout the rest of the game.

The Bottom Line
If you want some 8-bit Spider-Man action, Spider-Man: Return of the Sinister Six is probably the best you can do, but NOT this version. Find yourself an NES copy. It's still not the best game ever or anything, but there is some fun to be had there (you can read my review of it here at MobyGames as well). All in all I must admit that I am disappointed, as I used to play this one all the time on the NES when I was a kid, so I was excited to play it on the Master System with nicer graphics, but why did they have to ruin the rest?

SEGA Master System · by Magus_X (111) · 2009

[ View all 4 player reviews ]



Although Spider-Man: Return of the Sinister Six came late in NES' history (1992), it is its one and only Spider-Man licensed title for the system.


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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by chirinea.

SEGA Master System added by Freeman.

Additional contributors: Alaka, LepricahnsGold, Jo ST.

Game added May 25, 2006. Last modified September 3, 2023.