The very first game in this series was Metroid. On this last day of 2014, I’d love to say that this final entry in the series brings it full circle somehow. Alas, outside of playing as a female protagonist in outer space, this game has just about nothing in common with Metroid.
Released by Anna Anthropy, Lesbian Spider-Queens of Mars features you in the role of, well, a lesbian spider-queen from Mars. The plot of the game, as stated on its purchase page, is that you have to bring your harem of consensual slaves back in line, using a crystal sceptre that shoots bondage lasers (Believe it or not, that link is safe for work, although you’ve long passed the point of no return on that front). Now, prior to playing the game, I had some issues with this. Based on my admittedly-limited-but-greater-than-zero understanding of BDSM, if the “consensual slaves” are “out of line” for whatever reason, that would imply something non-consensual about the relationship. Even playing through the game and getting the story behind it didn’t totally satisfy my cognitive dissonance regarding this, especially in light of the “All power exchange has to be negotiated” message in the intro (Which I guess is necessary in this sense of “Don’t worry, this isn’t how BDSM actually works” thanks to Fifty Shades of Grey and its ilk generating a completely wrong impression of the practice).
In any event, the gameplay involves twelve levels of moving through Pac-Man-esque “mazes”, zapping various slaves with your bondage laser sceptre. Once you’ve tied up a slave, a gem will pop out of them. You have to then nab the slave and, ideally, the gem (The gem gives points equal to the point value of the slave; every 25000 points get you an extra life). Beware, though–if you take too long to make it to the slave, they’ll break free and run around faster than before. More and more slaves of varying types, with different abilities, emerge from the four corners in each level, and they get faster the longer you take to complete it.
The game is broken up into twelve levels, plus a final boss level. The levels are divided into four groups of three, with the first level of each group always being the same. After you beat those levels, you’ll get your choice of one of two levels to go to. This is a cool way to add some variety to the game, especially given that every third level begins with a bunch of pre-wrapped slaves that you have to quickly capture.
Wizard of Wor is a game that’s commonly brought up as an influence on this one, and Anna Anthropy notes Joust and Dig Dug as influences as well. While I can see some Dig Dug and Wizard of Wor in it, my own reference pool brought to mind Donkey Kong in the way there’s a “music” that accompanies the movement of your main character. I also got a Bubble Bobble vibe from the fact that captured enemies can eventually break free, and turn red and move faster when they do so.
The game’s other similarity to arcade games comes with a twist. The best continue screens get you to jam more quarters in the machine by showing your character in dire peril. Lesbian Spider-Queens of Mars elects for a different tactic–insulting you into not continuing. After you game over, you can writhe your bound spider queen over to one of your former subjects (Who mockingly calls you “your former majesty”), who will cut you free at the cost of your score (And your dignity). Alternately, you can accept your score and Game Over by wiggling in the other direction. And I have to say, the ploy worked on me–I was determined to beat the whole game on one credit, and did, after a couple hours of playtime.
The game is visually “retro”, which in a way, helps it. The simple graphics give the game a campy feel that keeps it from getting pornographic. Of course, the later levels are frantic enough that getting your jollies from the game is impossible, even if you wanted to. This is somewhat offset by the generous hit detection–you can almost be on top of an enemy and, if you turn to shoot your sceptre at it quickly enough, wrap it up before it kills you.
Given the game’s arcade roots, and given the competition around golden era arcade games like Donkey Kong or Nibbler, one thing I would have liked from this game is some kind of Marathon Mode, where instead of simply ending, the game went back to a harder iteration, and continued looping until you lost all your lives. The game seems like it would have marathon potential if it didn’t end after the first loop. On the other hand, I did take pride in becoming the spider-queen, which wouldn’t have happened in a play-until-you-game-over mode.
Lesbian Spider-Queens of Mars is a fun throwback to early 80s arcade games, with an adult bent to it. If “Lesbian Spider-Queens of Mars” sound appealing to you, but your morality thinks that seeing said lesbians topless is going a bit too far, there’s a free censored version on Adult Swim Games. The Totally Uncensored Version is $5, and is worth it for a few hours of arcadey bondage fun.