Spider-Man versus Doctor Octopus - Race to Rescue Board Game

A photo of the outside cover of a metal tin lunchbox-style board game that features an image of Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus battling each other, logos, and text that reads "With Magnetic Climbing Action!".
Image source: BoardGameGeek

Spider-Man versus Doctor Octopus
Race to Rescue
Board Game Analysis

Written by DJ Hadoken Exlamparaaghis
Edited by GamerCurls


This game is for two players, one player plays as Spider-Man and the other plays as Doctor Octopus. Each player plays on their character’s respective side of a metal tin box. The cards are separated into a pile for Spider-Man and another for Doctor Octopus. The objective of this game is to “race” to reach Mary Jane, who is situated on the inside top portion of the box.

After the decks are shuffled, each player draws one card from their deck and follows the action on the card. The actions consist of advancing up to two spaces, though occasionally there will be a zero or a negative card. Once both players run out of cards, they should re-shuffle and begin drawing cards again until one player reaches Mary Jane at the top of the box.

Strategically speaking, a significant bottleneck in this game occurs when both players have run out of cards and must reshuffle their decks, because at this point there only remain three steps to reach Mary Jane, so the game devolves from a “race” to a game of chance depending upon how the players shuffle their cards. The only “enemies” (or obstacles) that exist in the game are on the zero and negative cards that depict images of the player’s opponent.

The game is a bit more challenging when it is played using the advanced rule set which requires that each player draws four cards at a time, face down. The player then chooses one of those cards, follows the action, and then replaces the cards into the deck. With this method, the game lasts a bit longer and avoids the bottleneck that appears in the basic rule set.

There is more replay value if players are following the advanced rule set because there are more chances for each player to win. We also found it compelling to create our own rules for the game, rather than actually following the rules provided, which were quite simplistic.

The actual instructions for the game even seem to demand imagination, as they are very short and vague and never clearly state when each deck should be re-shuffled. Though it may not have been intentional, it encourages those reading the instructions (most likely parents) to fill in the gaps.

Personally, we found that it is a bit more fun to either put all the cards together and draw from a single deck or lay all the cards out and flip them over at random; re-shuffling until someone reaches the end.

Target Audience

The target audience for this game is stated as 6 and up, though after playing the game it seems as if it would probably be better suited for children 6 and under, because, in comparison to games like Madagascar which are also aimed at children 6 and up, this game is much more straightforward and requires far less strategy.

Young children would probably buy this game simply because of the name attached to it, which may be what the designers anticipated. Its lack of challenge shows that they were aiming for the mass appeal of the Spider-Man image rather than creating a classic.

Physical Design

Despite the game’s simplicity and perhaps underestimating the intelligence of today’s 6 year olds, it does have its own ingenious aspects that would perhaps keep children wanting to play it again and again.

First, the pieces are magnetized and “climb” up the walls of the box while following the normal path of the game, with Mary Jane actually being inside the top and upside down. This is appealing because it actually fits with the Spider-Man theme.

And second, even though the game does not explicitly state that it is based on the Spider-Man 2 (2004) movie (which features Doctor Octopus as the central villain), it is clear that this game is targeting children who have seen the movie and are familiar with the various scenes of Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus climbing up buildings.

now back to the blog...

The artwork features both Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus in dramatic poses, and the illustrations on their respective cards each have their own distinct styles. Spider-Man seems as if he is a “vectored” image and Doctor Octopus is much more detailed, as if he were copied from a classic issue of Spider-Man. Spider-Man’s cards feature hand drawn artwork, where Doctor Octopus’s cards are an image of him super-imposed over a photograph of actual taxicabs.

The board design is also very appealing, especially the nostalgic metal tin lunchbox feel. However, it is not an original concept, as when we went to the store to purchase it, there were other lunchbox-style games as well, nevertheless, it is still more visually appealing when it is set next to standard rectangular board games.

Also, the box opens on both sides reminiscent of Battleship, which considered from a different perspective, adds appeal for an older audience that is familiar with Battleship. The center piece cutout on the inside of the box also establishes a very metropolitan setting and the image and dramatic angle used actually make the piece feel three-dimensional and not as flat as it actually is.

It seems like attention to detail was put into the images on the game pieces and the center piece cutout, making sure that they match seamlessly when flipped. For example, in the center piece, even though they use the same image of several tall buildings for the front and back, the cutout is aligned in a way inside of the box that makes it hard to notice that the same image is being reused on both sides.

The game pieces seem to be a lot more durable and of a better quality than most other game pieces for games found in this age group. Considering that children will probably be throwing these pieces around, it is another advantage over games like Madagascar.

Another positive aspect of the game is its utilization of magnets within the game pieces, and the certain charm that goes into playing with magnets. A child could easily preoccupy themselves by playing with the magnets for hours, trying to stick it here and there before actually, if ever, playing the game. The game pieces are nice enough for a collector to want to have sitting around with their other trinkets and memorabilia.

The game is very portable and takes up little storage space, which gives it yet another advantage over larger board games. A space-conscious parent may be more likely to pick up this game than Madagascar or Candy Land. One problem with the game’s size, though, is that it is harder to spot on a store shelf.

The game itself is practical in the sense that once a child becomes bored with it, a parent could easily rip out the center piece, and have their child use it as a lunchbox or pencil box, which would definitely make the child feel very cool to be at school. The quality of the tin used is also relatively good, so that it could last about one or two years as a child’s pencil box before needing to be replaced.

A flaw in the overall design of the board itself is that the shape of the box makes it cumbersome to place the magnetic pieces in certain places, like in the center of the box where there is a little ridge, and also in the corners and curves where it is almost impossible to place the pieces on the little predetermined spaces.


It seems as if the designers put a lot of effort into the physical design of the board and less into the actual gameplay.

The game may suffer from its simple learning curve. The given rules may be too easy to understand, which means that children could easily pick up this game, read the rules and finish the game in about ten minutes. This greatly hinders the replay value because it leaves little invitation for children to go back to the game to make sure that they have done everything correctly. The game needs another element to make the learning curve less simple so that children will desire to return to it and learn more.

One suggestion we have for the game is that more action cards could have been added that were not just numbers, or, if the numbers were kept, at least some short description as to why each action is occurring. This encourages children to read, and their parents to read to them.

Another suggestion would be that the base amount of cards available to each player could be increased above 15, so that there are at least more cards than there are spaces on the board to increase the challenge and eliminate the bottleneck mentioned earlier.

Perhaps the numbers on the cards could have been replaced entirely by the inclusion of dice and the cards themselves could have contained written instructions or even questions. A player could be instructed to ask their opponent simple questions related to the Spider-Man series, such as, “What is Spider-Man’s real name?” And if their opponent answers correctly, the opponent advances a space; if they answer incorrectly, then the player who asked the question advances.

The game would be even more interesting with the addition of wild cards and wild card spaces on the board which would create additional obstacles and advantages in the game. Also, the addition of methods to directly hinder your opponent’s progress would add to the overall replay value.

The predetermined areas on the board could have been designed to look a bit more distinct from each other so that it would be easier to tell each space apart, much like the start space is distinguishable from the rest of the spaces. And the spaces on the inner curves of the box could have been placed in a more accessible location.

To conclude, Spider-Man versus Doctor Octopus - Race to Rescue Board Game suffers greatly from its simplistic rule set, however, it redeems itself in the physical design of the board and name brand. It can also prove to be a more fun experience by rewarding those with the creativity enough to create their own rules for the game.

This game succeeds at being fun, but not through the conventions it establishes. Placed in the right child’s hands, it could encourage them to think freely and to bend the rules. However, placed into a different child’s hands, it may quickly bore them and be left to gather dust in a dark, lonely closet.


=^..^= =^..^= =^..^= =^..^= =^..^=




Buy Me a Coffee