Comics : Marvel Power Game: Spider-Man

Staff Only
Edit Review
Edit Title

This story is part of a Lookback Series: Book of the Month Club

This review was first published on: Aug 2012.

Background...

There are at least five different "Marvel Power Game" books. They all share the same format, and the contents are essentially similar in structure, although different in detail.

All of them are copyright dated 1996. The two earlier ones (Marvel Power Game: Spider-Man and Marvel Power Game: X-Men) have a different style cover from the three following books (Marvel Power Game: Spider-Man - Venom Strikes, Marvel Power Game: Spider-Man - The Sting of the Scorpion, and Marvel Power Game: X-Men - Days of Future Past). They follow a similar structure in terms of construction, but the content differs slightly between the two different flavours.

In Detail...

Marvel Power Game: Spider-Man
Year 1996 : SM Reprint
Summary: Complete Game Board Interactive Comic
Partially Reprints: Spider-Man Adventures #8
See Original Credits
Staff Only
Issue
Review
Marvel Power Game: Spider-Man - Venom Strikes
Year 1996 : SM Reprint
Summary: Spider-Man Appears
Reprints: Spider-Man Adventures #10
See Original Credits
Staff Only
Issue
Review
Marvel Power Game: Spider-Man - The Sting of the Scorpion
Year 1996 : SM Reprint
Summary: Spider-Man Appears
Reprints: Spider-Man Adventures #2
See Original Credits
Staff Only
Issue
Review

All five books are magazine-sized (8.5" x 11") but with a stapled cover made of cardboard rather than paper. Each contains the following:

  • 32 regular paper pages.
  • A pull-out game-board which unfolds to 17" x 22". On the reverse side is advertising.
  • A pull-out sheet of light glossy card which unfolds to 17" x 22" and then tears along serrations to give the game pieces.
  • A special promotional card for use in the Marvel Overpower collectible card game.

In each case, the 32 pages of regular paper all feature a full-length reprinted story. Generally the story is taken from the pages of Spider-Man Adventures or X-Men Adventures. Some of the panels of the story are black-and-white only, so that you can do your own colouring. Also on the regular pages following the story are half a dozen pages of puzzles and drawing exercises for you to draw Spider-Man, the Hulk, or whoever.

The 17" x 22 game board and the various game pieces comprise the "Marvel Power Game" which is a game for two players. There are two quite different versions of the game.

The first version of the game appears in Marvel Power Game: Spider-Man and Marvel Power Game: X-Men. In this version, you win by collecting 200 power points, or reducing your opponent down to zero power points. You move around the board, collecting cards, and following the instructions you encounter on the board or on the cards you acquire. You can play cards which move your opponent, forcing them to take the actions he encounters. You may also battle your opponent if you encounter them.

The second version of the game appears in the other three books (Marvel Power Game: Spider-Man - Venom Strikes, Marvel Power Game: Spider-Man - The Sting of the Scorpion). In this alternate version each player draws a number of "power cards", which also include special cards to help you progress faster around the board. As you move around the spaces, you need to battle the villains you encounter. This is done by playing the required power cards from your hand. The winner is the one who gets to the end first. There appears to be little or no interaction between the two players.

In General...

These games sold for US$5.99 back in 1996. That's around three times the price of a regular comic book back then. For the extra money you get the large format, the cardboard cover, the extra games and puzzles, the fold-out game board, all those pull-apart cardboard pieces, and the super-rare "Marvel Overpower" collectible card. I think that adds up to a pretty fair deal.

I must confess I haven't actually played either version of the games. But I have played a lot of other board games, and I pride myself on having a pretty good instinct for these kinds of things. So with that in mind, I think that both of the games look perfectly playable, without being particularly inspiring.

The first game has the key element of player interaction, but seems to have less actual strategy. The second version is a pure race between the players, but does seem to have the potential for making more interesting judgements on when to play the specific cards in your hand.

Overall Rating...

I think these books were all worthy products at the time, and now make for interesting collectibles fifteen years later. There has clearly been some effort gone into constructing them, for which they deserve credit.

I'm going to give them an above-average three-and-a-half webs.