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Spider-Man 2: The Sinister Six

Score: 40%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Torus Games
Media: Cart/1
Players: 1
Genre: Platformer

Graphics & Sound:

Following closely in the footsteps of last year's Spider-Man on Game Boy Color, Spider-Man 2: The Sinister Six still runs a little dry in the eye candy department. About ninety-five percent of your opponents look exactly the same (not unlike most other platformers), the backgrounds quickly become boring and unchanging, and everything just seems to scream '8-bit' only seconds into the game. To be fair though, Spidey's crawling/swinging animations are refreshingly slick, and the comic-style cutscenes between levels are a nice touch to keep things lively. Graphically, it's all a mixed bag.

The sound & music ain't too bad, however. The catchy (albeit repetitive) soundtrack had my toe tapping from the title screen, and the in-game noises aren't too hard on the ears. Fortunately, Doc Ock's poorly sampled laughter in the opening scene seems to be the only attempt at digitized audio throughout the game; more developers seriously need to realize that this device rarely works reasonably well in the handheld gaming world.


So much more could've been put into Spider-Man 2, but alas, a quick 6-level key hunt is all we get. Basically, you control Spider-Man as he punches, kicks, and web-swings through theme parks and office buildings in search of the kidnapped Aunt May, with a different member of the Sinister Six making an appearance for a relatively simple boss battle at the end of each level. Sounds like it could be cool, but the objectives barely change from stage to stage -- find a key, open a door, hit a switch, fight the boss, repeat. Are a few decent puzzles and some dexterity challenges just too much to ask?


Three levels of difficulty (Easy, Medium and Hard) are all you've got to choose from, but the differences between each are very noticeable. On Easy, most enemies go down with only two punches and Spidey's web supply takes forever to run out; on Hard, it'll take a beating to nail any basic thug, and you'd better be good at dodging bullets. The damage that Spider-Man receives increases greatly as difficulty goes up, while his ability to shoot immobilizing web will decrease when things get tougher. Regardless, it shouldn't take more than an hour or two to complete the game on any setting. Bah.

Game Mechanics:

Here's where things really fall short when they shouldn't have. Being a sequel, one would expect Spider-Man 2 to breathe some life into a too-straightforward concept. Rather than have players jamming on one button to hit enemies with random punches/kicks until they die, why not introduce custom combos or at least one or two special attacks? Sure, Spidey can shoot web at his foes and he performs a jump-kick when running, but that's about as flashy as it gets. For a multi-talented superhero, this guy can't seem to do much in a scrap.

Perhaps the most troublesome issue lies in controlling Spider-Man when crawling along walls & ceilings. Getting him around corners is a breeze, yet it's almost always cumbersome to dismount from a horizontal site or switch to a parallel surface on the first try. These techniques are crucial when you're trying to drop down behind a gun-toting hooligan or maneuver around detection lights, but most of the time it just doesn't seem to work correctly.

Looking past some glaring faults, Spider-Man 2: The Sinister Six isn't a terrible game... just more of a quick time-passer than a platformer worth keeping. There's plenty of untouched potential waiting to be tapped here, though; with any luck, Spidey fans will have something to look forward to when Spider-Man: Mysterio's Menace comes out on Game Boy Advance later this year.

-Ben Monkey, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ben Lewis

Nintendo GameBoy Advance Zapper GameBoy Color/Pocket Top Gun: Firestorm

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated