Total Mayhem is a total blast. A web-slingin’ good time was had by all.

No matter where he goes, Spider-Man just can’t seem to catch a break. Whether it’s roving street thugs, half-infected symbiotes, or a monstrous man in a rhino costume, it seems that Peter Parker’s day is always going from bad to worse. Spider-Man Total Mayhem, on the other hand, quickly goes from good to better, offering up a great combination of button-mashing combat and challenging boss fights that’s bound to please.

The story in Total Mayhem is typical comic book style craziness. The Triskelion – a maximum security prison for supervillains – has suffered a breakout. Meanwhile, the dastardly Norman Osborn has created a synthesis of his goblin-creating Oz serum and Venom, and it’s infecting the entire city! Yep – it’s comic book craziness alright, and it offers up a great scenario for 12 different stages of Spidey-swinging fun.

 Total Mayhem

While much of the level design is fairly run of the mill – run down this street, beat up these guys, repeat – there are moments when Total Mayhem really shines with some outstanding 3D platforming. In one level you’ll need to navigate a labyrinth of spinning fan blades. In another you’ll need to successfully traverse a series of electrified and quickly moving platforms. Mechanics like these are nothing new – we’ve been seeing them since the PlayStation era – but that doesn’t make them any less enjoyable.

Swinging felt fairly natural as well – a challenging feat considering how poorly it’s been executed in previous Spider-Man games. Rather than letting players attach their webs to anything willy nilly, the web-swinging in Total Mayhem is more or less on rails. Players will see a target they can attach to, start swinging, and then swing from target to target. In some of the later levels these swinging sessions can go on for 5 minutes or more, offering up a surprisingly sizable challenge for the simplicity involved.

When it comes to combat – and nearly every moment in Total Mayhem does – button-mashing is the name of the game. While the App Store description of “more than 20 fighting combos” is accurate, these are achieved through easy to master combinations of the three on-screen buttons. Press the attack button five times to activate “Spidey’s Valor.” Push it a sixth time to do a wind kick. Press jump and then attack to do a “solar slash” while an enemy is on the ground. The list goes on and on. Everything is just a simple mashup of the attack, web, and jump buttons. You don’t even need to learn what the attacks are – just mash like crazy and you’ll find moves that fit your style just fine.

 Total Mayhem

In addition to active combat, players will also make use of spidey sense. Whenever Spider-Man is about to take damage, a spidey sense icon appears beside your left thumb, allowing you to dodge and counterattack if pressed quickly enough. While this feature feels rather “take it or leave it” during the regular gameplay, in boss fights it becomes indispensable. The same goes for Spidey’s special power, which unleashes a super attack when tapped (but can only be built up if you go easy on the web-shooting).

While the rest of the game is enjoyable, the boss fights are really what take Total Mayhem from “good time” to “must play.” Players will square off against six of Spidey’s famous rogues – Sandman, Rhino, Electro, Venom, Doctor Octopus, and Green Goblin. Each boss fight plays differently, requiring players to figure out the best way to approach the battle. Sandman can be briefly demobilized by breaking open fire hydrants, for example, while you’ll need to take out each of Doc Ock’s legs if you want to bring him down to a damageable location.

In addition to each of the strategies players will need to employ, the bosses will all throw their own unique brand of offense your way. You’ll need to move out of the way of Rhino’s speedy charge, for example, while Electro has a variety of shocking attacks to wear down your health.

All in all, the boss fights here are truly reminiscent of a bygone era in video games. Dodge unique attacks, find weaknesses, and sit on the edge of your seat as you try to make all the pieces dance. Total Mayhem‘s bosses are challenging, unique, and above all else – fun.

 Total Mayhem

Players looking for an added challenge can enjoy the boss fights all over again in a Boss Rush mode, as well as enjoy some new combat moves after completing the game by unlocking Spidey’s infamous black costume.

Spider-Man Total Mayhem makes me think of what arcade games would be like today if the arcade industry had continued to flourish. It’s a tough concept to wrap your head around, but stay with me on this one. It’s easy to pick up, easy to play, yet well-designed and challenging enough that you’d have pumped countless quarters into it, determined to defeat Rhino or give Electro the shock of a lifetime.

Total Mayhem offers a 3D beat’em up experience that satisfies just like the 2D arcade offerings of old. With some fun level design, well-thought out boss fights, and non-stop button mashing goodness, Total Mayhem is a totally good time. If you’re looking for some light, cartoony, thumb-cramping fun, Spider-Man Total Mayhem should easily scratch that itch.