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Spider-Man: Friend or Foe

Score: 60%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Activision
Developer: A2M
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Fighting/ Puzzle

Graphics & Sound:

Well, I've played two games on my Nintendo DS since buying it two weeks ago, and Spiderman: Friend or Foe made The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass look like a movie cinematic. Unfortunately, the graphics on Spiderman had the regrettable effect of making the spandex-clad Peter Parker appear as a blocky, jerky, Tourette's patient that had the grace of a three-week-dead zombie. There is no fluidity with any of the animations, and the level designs are about as deep as a sorority applicant on pledge night.

The flat levels actually hampered my gameplay, at first. I wasn't even aware you could interact with some of the doors because they faded into the background so much! I spent ten minutes running around the first level like a total moron trying to figure out what in the seven hells I was meant to be doing. The beginning cut scene was kind of cute, but it was like they gave up halfway through and went for comic style scenes from there on.

Spiderman: Friend or Foe did not fare too much better with it's sound, either. The voices sounded like they were coming through a cell phone or radio stationed in the middle of the coldest spot in Russia. I was actually playing the game at one point, and my father, who happened to be visiting, asked me to turn the volume up (he was sitting right beside me). I had to inform him that the volume was as turned up as loud as it got, and that I couldn't figure out why it was so low, either. Not as if I was missing much, however. The music was fairly lame, and the grunts and punch noises all sounded like they belonged on a two-year-old's noise-making toy.


The gamplay on Spiderman: Friend or Foe was tedious at best. I was rather excited to play the game when I first got it, but after the five minutes of start screens, my excitement was starting to wane. I was really looking forward to swinging through the city and climbing up buildings, but even that was taken away from me to some extent.

Spiderman starts his game out in a battle against some of his enemies, when a mysterious group of baddies climbs up to the building they are all perched atop... and begins making Spiderman's villains disappear. Good, right? Not so much - they want Spiderman to die as well.

Nick Fury happens to be in his giant, glowing spaceship of doom (he was just in the neighborhood, you see) and teleports Spiderman up in the nick of time. Nick informs Spidey that these damned annoying robots are using the same meteorite that transformed Venom... and it is up to you to stop them. But, wait, there's more! Not only do you get the illustrious honor of smashing the bots to bits, but you are also forced to have your ach rivals tag along for the journey. Oh, goody!

Unfortunately, the co-op is rather useless until the characters are needed for their specific (and rather silly) deeds. Black Cat opens locks, Doc Oc screws with some circuitry... all things Spiderman could have really done on his own. Each character has a few special moves that serve to cut up the tedium in battle, but you need to collect energy to use them. Mostly, you spend your time (what little play time there is) punching and kicking robots until your fingers bleed. Another downside to the co-op is that you can't swing around the city! All the buildings are close enough to jump to, and Black Cat just cannot shoot white goo out of her wrists like you can. Bummer.

Basically, the formula for Spiderman: Friend or Foe is as follows: Nick tells you such-and-such has happened and sends you to said place, you run through such-and-such area disabling one thing or another and smashing robots, and then you defeat one of your archenemies (they are all under some sort of brainwashing) and they are so grateful they decide to tag along with you! The only saving grace is the puzzles in the game. They are pretty basic, but a welcome change to hitting your buttons over and over. All are timed and require a bit of precision and use of the stylus. My favorite one was tapping on a series of numbers when they changed colors from red to green (shows how desperate for change I was!).

On the upside, you can always hook up with one of your friends and play online. It is still pretty much the same thing, but at least you can be miserable with a buddy!


The difficulty for the five hour Spiderman: Friend or Foe is negligible. If you are big fan of God of War or Devil May Cry, you really will cry while playing this. I didn't die once, and I'm not the greatest gamer on the planet. Granted, I think this game is aimed toward younger kids. You never really have to use your brain on anything save the puzzles, and even those are more about timing than brainpower. Spiderman: Friend or Foe is a button-mashers dream. Granted, if this game were very hard, I would have tossed it across the room and refused to ever tough it again. Hard games + mindless repetition = a trip to the used game bin.

The difficulty is further lessened by the fact that you can buy upgrades that increase hit points. Basically, they just throw more robots at you the further along you go. The hardest part of the game is figuring out how to defeat the bosses (assuming you did what I did and skipped the annoying conversations between Nick Fury and Spiderman). Maybe I should actually practice some patience and sit through those from now on?

Game Mechanics:

A2M did not take the DS into account at all, really. You rarely use the stylus, and the upper screen normally displays a world map... for whatever reason. The button layout is pretty basic: (B) to jump; (B) and then (B) again while in midair to web swing (although I found this a tad unresponsive and pretty pointless); (X) is the kick; and (Y) is the punch. If you tap your (X) or (Y) in succession three times, Spiderman will do a neat combo, and an (X) plus (Y) gets Spiderman to toss the baddie up into the air and drop kick his robotic bum - which will always bring a smile to your face.

Both of your controlled characters have "special abilities" you can access by your (L) trigger. Spiderman starts out with a web shoot - which immobilizes the baddies - a web bullet, which is just what it sounds like - and this wicked web, spin attack. The web spin is my favorite as it does the most damage (Spidey shoots out two webs and spins in circles, knocking the goo-bots to the ground), but it requires a lot of energy that must be collected. All the villains turned friends in the game have the same sort of attacks; the spin attack and the long-range attack. I found myself using the villains more than Spiderman for some variety.

In the interest of saving money and dignity, if you must play Spiderman: Friend or Foe... rent it! It was fun for mindless entertainment, and controlling the bad guys was pretty diverting, but replay value is nil.

-Phate Kills, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Field

Nintendo DS Digimon World: Dusk Sony PlayStation Portable Jackass: The Game

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