And now, Scary-Crayon presents...
Hold on there, MJ...the AMAZING SPIDER-MANSpidey's a comin'!
The Spectacular Mary Jane Rescue!!!
by: Wes

Earlier this year, we reviewed The Amazing Spider-Man, a very weird 1990 DOS game from Paragon Software that cast the player in the role of everyone's favorite web-slinging superhero. Click here if you're interested in reading (or rereading) the full review, but for our present purposes the following excerpt will suffice:

...you will never rescue MJ and you will never beat this game. As far as I know, nobody has beaten The Amazing Spider-Man. Ever. There's one faq on GameFAQs, and even its author couldn't beat the game. It's well nigh impossible... make no mistake -- you will die. You will die in such a slow and uninteresting fashion that you will be tempted to take a bathroom break and maybe get some peanuts while you do so, but die you will.

Despite the sincerity and conviction with which I wrote those words, however, this piece shall demonstrate that my previous assertions are not entirely true. With a bit of trickery, you can beat The Amazing Spider-Man.

This is the first screen......second screen...
...third screen...I SEE YOU, Mary Jane!!!

You can't do it fairly, of course. The game is fucking impossible, or at least very close to being so. I stand by that statement. But recall that I had a screencap featuring Mysterio and Mary Jane in the previous article. That was from a not-terribly-well-hidden "secret" that allows the player to get a glimpse of the game's final screen by walking along the roof of Mysterio's stronghold (as opposed to entering it and beginning your quest) and triggering an unseen mechanism by standing in the center of a helicopter. I initially believed that this was just the designers' way of taunting players by showing them something that they would never ever ever reach, but a chance visit to a discussion thread about the game at abandonia.com revealed that there is, in fact, a way to get down there and save MJ. So here's how it works. In keeping with the screens above, you keep moving right (remember to jump the gap in the beginning) until you reach the helicopter. When you climb up onto the helicopter, stand on the center of the propeller. It should go up -- and when it reaches the height of its flight, you should hear a little sound. At this point, climbing off of the helicopter and down to the screen below should show you "Mysterio's End?", the final screen of the game. Alas, the blue girders separate you from your target.

Stuck in the wall......and almost there!

So the trick is to jump and swing off of the edge helicopter such that you exit "Black Thunder" at the bottom-left corner, which should result in you getting stuck inside the leftmost wall. It's sort of tricky to get, and it'll only work properly if you're standing straight up when you cross over -- otherwise you'll end up crouched inside the wall on the top level and will only be able to crawl to the right, which will still leave you one floor above the action. Also, if you enter the screen while tumbling at an angle, you'll fall off of the final screen and into stacked blue girder limbo before being dropped back at "Midnight", the first screen of the game. Not a big deal -- just means you'll have to walk across the rooftops and try jumping off of the helicopter again. If you get it right, though, you should end up either standing still inside the wall (as seen in the leftmost image above) or falling straight down. In the latter case, you should shoot your webbing to the right -- preferably near the bottom half of the screen -- such that you're pulled slightly out of the wall and are stopped by the floor below (see the rightmost image above). Then you can simply crawl to the right and voila! -- victory is almost within your grasp. If you end up standing inside the wall on the top level, however, jumping straight up will ultimately result in Spidey falling straight down within the girder, whereupon you should use the webbing to get him out as described above. Be quick about it, though! If you fail to move, you'll end up in blue limbo and fall through to the beginning.

'ello, Mysterio!MJ is death.

If you exit the wall too high, you'll end up near Mysterio, which I don't think is supposed to happen (if you played the game normally and got to this point, you would enter at the lower-right corner of the screen). You can't actually do anything to him from up here, as the trap that kills him has to be triggered from below, but you can take this opportunity to crawl across the top of the screen, drop down, and visit with MJ! Note that you'll have to brush against Mysterio to do so, which will cause Spidey to take a little bit of damage. Touching MJ will restore your health, but it'll also cause something far creepier to happen: the score display will begin to flash, alternating between the green numbers 00576 and PART OF A SKELETON. I'm not sure whether it affects Spidey in some unseen way or whether it simply constitutes a sly comment by the developers on the harmful effects that women can have on men, but it's definitely unsettling. In fact, given the nature of Mysterio's schemes in the comics, it's enough to make you wonder if his master plan included posing as a gynecologist and infecting MJ with HIV.

Die, biznitch.NOOOOOOOOOOOO

At any rate, once you're down there, saving MJ is as simple as tripping the switch and sending Mysterio to his high-voltage death on the electrified floor panel below -- and if that seems like a pretty weak way of defeating the game's final boss, remember that Mysterio himself is supposedly the one who designed the layout of the entire game. I was going to make a crack about how pacing back and forth on a plank that you've personally rigged to drop you into a fatal shock therapy session just proves how ridiculous Mysterio is, but then I remembered that this isn't how the end would really play out if the player somehow managed to get there the legitimate way. Besides, I kinda wanted to see what preceded the game's final screen. So on one playthrough I swung Spidey over the pit and took him over to the right -- but no sooner had our hero stepped under that weird checkered thingy than the walls started closing in and poor gyrating MJ started bleeping for her pixelated life. And therein lies the challenge of the final screen: yes, Spider-Man only has to flip a switch to save the day and send Mysterio to his doom... but he only has seconds to do it BEFORE THE LOVE OF HIS LIFE IS CRUSHED TO DEATH.

Don't underestimate the difficulty of this. Spider-Man saunters along in this game like he's taking a midday stroll while singing zip-a-dee-doo-dah, so there is no fucking way he can get to the other side of the screen in time to save MJ. No, what you've gotta do is hit that fucking lightbulb, which sets the couch sliding back and forth along the floor. Then, you jump on the couch, ride it to the other side, jump onto the wall and hit the switch under Mysterio with a web shot (or you could try to hit it from the couch, but that's a little less precise), stun Mysterio with a web as he falls to keep him from walking off of the electricity, and hope to Heaven that he bites the big one before MJ does. If you don't, MJ dies and it's GAME OVER for you -- so I really hope that there was a save point on the other screen, 'cause otherwise whoever actually played through the game to get to this point would be totally justified in seeking out the members of the programming team and subjecting them to awful torments that surpass even the most horrific horrors envisioned by the Saw series' screenwriters. You don't even get a "bad ending" graphic featuring a crazed, grief-stricken Spider-Man smashing in Mysterio's stupid punchbowl head and making his face implode in a spray of bloody red and brain fragments and stained skull chips and half-smashed eyeballs, which is what would really happen in this kind of situation. Mysterio kidnaps your woman, makes you brave countless insane movie-themed screens with robots and mummies and wolves that take fourteen minutes to die even when their skulls are repeatedly being pounded with spiked balls in order to save her, and -- just when she is within your grasp! -- he rigs it so that your approach triggers a mechanism that will fucking smash her flat unless you can shock him to death first by tripping a switch that he specifically designed for the purpose of killing himself? That just might be the most twisted shit I've ever encountered in a video game. It's also kinda sad, though -- makes you wonder about the sheer magnitude of Quentin Beck's personal troubles. Poor guy.

The mask isn't the only thing that's coming off!

Assuming that you manage to do things exactly right -- or take the easy way out and just drop Mysterio onto the electricity without ever venturing to the right side of the screen -- the unfortunate Mr. Beck will fall to the floor below and die of shock. Then we cut to the game's ending, which features an unmasked Peter Parker cradling Mary Jane in his arms as the two stroll through sunny Central Park amidst floating red hearts and your standard happily-ever-after scenery. (In your face, Jameson!) But then again, perhaps things are not as they seem. After all, that Spider-Man has just ostensibly finished a game in which he's faced off against everything from miniature Godzillas to R2-D2 props to gun-toting Irish lasses in otherwise peaceful pubs. Who's to say that those hearts aren't actually heart-shaped bullets that were fired from cannons mounted in the trees? And let's not forget the telltale skeleton that appeared when Spidey touched MJ on the final screen. The reunited Parker family has clearly been marked by DEATH, and something tells me that defeating a crazed, suicidal madman and finishing this crappy game is not going to change that fact. Whether they perish from nerve gas masquerading as clouds in the background or die as a result of STD infection, I have little doubt that participating in Paragon Software's The Amazing Spider-Man will someday prove to be the undoing of both Peter Parker and his feisty red-headed bride. Ask not for whom the bell tolls, friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. It tolls for thee.

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