Spider-Man is a vertical scrolling action game on the Atari 2600 where players control Spider-Man as he climbs a building to disarm bombs planted by the Green Goblin. Spider-Man can use his web lines to ascend either vertically or diagonally. Generic criminals inhabit the building, moving randomly between windows. A web fluid meter at the screen’s bottom depletes gradually, acting as a time constraint. If the meter empties, Spider-Man falls, losing a life, and the game ends if no lives remain.
Capturing a criminal or defusing a small bomb replenishes a small amount of web fluid. To capture a criminal, Spider-Man must touch them, but if a criminal cuts his web line, he falls, though players can shoot another web to save him.
Near each building’s top, the layout transitions to a series of girders with small bombs planted by the Goblin. Bombs about to explode turn red, and defusing red bombs earns more points than black ones.
At the top, Spider-Man confronts the Green Goblin and a “super bomb” that detonates after defeating a set number of enemies or defusing small bombs. Players have limited time to reach the super bomb before it explodes, costing a life. Defeating the Goblin (by dodging him) and defusing the super bomb advances the game to the next level, which may feature faster or more Green Goblins, taller buildings, larger scaffold sections, or a faster-depleting web fluid supply. Sometimes, the building color changes.