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Spider-Man

Score: 70%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Neversoft
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

Spider-Man is both pretty and downright ugly in places. The character models, especially Spider-Man himself, are near perfect. Theyíre well-animated, simply-shaded, but perfect for the roles that they play. But the landscapes, especially the city-scapes, are awful looking. Fog looms like a bad day in London, and itís difficult to see the next building that youíre trying to get to. The inside settings are definitely better, without any draw-in problem, but they have that fuzzy, er, N64 feel to them. While itís not atrocious, Spider-Man isnít gorgeous either. The slide shows are especially irritating, as the graphics in them arenít any more impressive than the N64ís own -- youíd imagine they could have made them into full movies, as I hear the PSX version had. And the graphics have their glitches -- sometimes Spideyís shadow will fail to appear, which makes placing him over bad guys for sneak attacks much more difficult.

The sound, on the other hand, is excellent. While the music consists of relatively simple loops that get overlays whenever action cuts in, which works well but isnít terribly impressive, the sound effects are quite solid. The grunts and groans are excellent. And even more importantly, thereís tons of voice-acting in the game. Itís clear, understandable, and it adds a lot to the experience. Stan Lee himself narrates, Spider-Man makes lots of wisecracks, and everyone has a few little quips. It definitely adds to the atmosphere of the game, and makes it more enjoyable to play.


Gameplay:

And while Spider-Man is by no means a terrible game, it has issues that keep it from being anything other than light adventure fare. Itís one of the best treatments of comic book character design ever, but it still falls weak.

Youíre Spider-Man, of course, out to save the city. Well, actually, youíre out to keep your good name from being tarnished, as someoneís impersonating you and doing bad things. Of course, the police believe itís you, so youíre in for a world of trouble from the start. The gameís plot follows true comic-book style, with pretty much every major Spidey villain (with one obvious omission) showing up in one form or another. Itís cool to see all of the various super-villains portrayed in the game, and the voices for the characters are exactly as youíd expect.

Spider-Man is basically an action game with some stealth elements. There are levels where you swing from building to building, trying to get to a certain location. And there are levels where you are inside locations, trying to get to a certain place or accomplish a certain goal. These inside levels are where the game really shows its strength, as Spidey sneaks around the rooms, climbing on the walls and ceilings and trying to avoid detection. Itís good fun, but itís not without its problems.

The core gameplay isnít bad, mind you, but the mechanics have some issues that keep Spider-Man from being great. Spidey gets hung up on way too many things, and youíll be trying to dodge a boss when he instead decides to try to climb a plant. Iím not kidding, folks. And the aforementioned disappearing shadow problem makes sneaking up more difficult than it should be. Itís difficult to execute the various web-fluid moves consistently, even when youíre using the D-Pad on the N64 controller.

There are a few added modes, like a Time Attack mode and such, but theyíre more one-offs than anything else. There are also a ton of hidden secrets, like different suits for Spidey to wear and cheats for him to use, which must be gained inside the game, Rare-style. Itís a nice touch, certainly, and adds some replayability to the game.

Itís sad to see control and mechanics issues getting down what could have been a fantastic game. The core storyline is good, and the general idea of the game is superb. When you get to the point where youíre running away from the policeís rocket-launching helicopters, youíll know youíre in a comic book. But it never quite congeals.


Difficulty:

Until you figure out the various bossesí tricks, most of them are near impossible. Once you know how to deal with them, though, theyíre quite simple to defeat. The levels, on the other hand, are generally geared for you to lose, especially later in the game. The game usually doesnít set you back too far from where you were if you die, thankfully. If you persevere, you can certainly make it all the way through the game. And since the difficulty is adjustable from the start, including a Kids mode where web-slinging is even easier and the enemies are pushovers, any age can enjoy the game.

Game Mechanics:

While the core mechanics of Spider-Man are solid, their execution is somewhat lacking. Spidey has a bad habit of latching onto any and everything to try to climb it, making some segments of the game more difficult than they should be. The camera isnít well-behaved either, and itís put me into some God-awful viewpoints while I was trying to run away or hide or do anything complex. And the fogging issues make the rooftop levels harder than they really should be. But the basic controls of the game are simple enough, and the menus even simpler. I highly suggest using the D-Pad for navigating them, though, as the analog stick is way too sensitive.

In the end, Spider-Man is entertaining enough, but itís a substandard port of the original. Thereís little reason to purchase the expensive cart version when you can pick up the PSX version, which is better all around. If you donít have a PSX, you will certainly want to give Spider-Man a try, as itís not a bad game at all. But if you do have a PSX, pick up the disc instead. Itís a web-slinging good time, although it never quite hits greatness.


-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Nintendo 64 Knockout Kings 2000 Nintendo 64 Toy Story 2

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated