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Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions

Score: 85%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Griptonite Games
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Adventure/ Platformer (2D)

Graphics & Sound:

Now this is more like it. Recently, I had to review Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions on the Nintendo Wii and, to put it lightly, I wasn't a fan. It had very little to do with the overall design (which was fine because it was a carbon copy of what was available on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3), but I was more disappointed that the developers could not craft a Spider-Man experience that played to the strengths of the Wii. Well, now I have Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions for the Nintendo DS and where the Wii version failed to capitalize on the system's stronger points, this handheld re-tool gets it just right.

The DS is not known for pumping out life-like renderings of spandex-clad superheroes. The small screen and resolution is perfect, however, for simple elegance. Spider-Man for DS sports a clean, cartoony style that, quite frankly, I prefer over the muddy and complicated Wii version. There is even a bit of hand-drawn 2D cut scenes that work surprisingly well. What developer Griptonite understands is that cartoon superheroes should look like cartoon superheroes by any means necessary. Instead of a hyper-realistic interpretation, they applied a very stylized and friendly perspective to the friendly neighborhood wall-crawler and it pays off.

While the major console counterparts benefited from major voice talent and hours of recorded dialogue, the DS version of Shattered Dimensions is much smarter about its approach to audio talent. The voice actors are used effectively and, most importantly, they are used sparingly. The dialogue strikes a great balance between providing valuable information while not overcrowding Spidey's one-liners or the action on-screen. With around a dozen different voiced characters, the production talent is put to good use while Shattered Dimensions explores some of the lesser known villains in Spidey's universe, like my personal favorite, The Tinkerer.


Where the main console versions of Shattered Dimensions were heavily influenced by the success of other superhero games like Batman: Arkham Asylum, the DS version takes its cues from another successful franchise: Castlevania. By cutting the fat and focusing on the traditional gameplay, Shattered Dimensions for DS takes the core ideas of the console versions and boils them down to 2D gaming goodness.

The overall story is largely the same as the Wii counterpart with one notable exception; one less Spider-Man. Mysterio has stolen a mystical tablet that somehow restores order to all the dimensions in the universe. During Spidey's fight with Mysterio, the tablet breaks and reality unravels. The pieces are scattered across three different worlds and with the help of Madame Web, three different Spider-men have to unite the fabric of reality before Mysterio destroys it for good. "Amazing Spider-Man," "Spider-Man Noir," and "Spider-Man 2099" are the chosen wall-crawlers this time around and the three heroes are put to good use with their distinct abilities in this handheld adventure.

While the 2D map is very reminiscent of recent Castlevania titles, the paths and story are somewhat brief if you don't explore for new abilities, power-ups, or secret items. In general, each Spider-Man has his own world map that will be used throughout the whole game with light back-tracking and a few hidden areas in between battles with mindless henchmen.

This time, the differences between each version of Spider-Man in Shattered Dimensions are more than simple combat abilities. The levels are designed around the individual Spider-Man's platforming abilities. "2099" can't shoot any webbing, so he has to rely on his ability to glide through the air to get to his destination. "Amazing Spider-Man" is the version most people will recognize; he swings, he crawls, and he quips one-liners. Eventually all three versions receive the same abilities to make the end-game a little more traditional as each Spider-Man has to work together to stop Mysterio's nefarious plot.

Once the story is complete, you can unlock new costumes (including the infamous black suit) for use in subsequent playthroughs as well as dozens of challenge missions. The extras are a bit lackluster. It would have been nice to see some artwork, more suits, or even comic book stills for reference; it seems a bit of a missed opportunity.


Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is pretty straightforward; three difficulty selections make it easy to choose a difficulty that suits you. I did find, however, that no matter which option you choose, it is far too easy to simply run past large sections of the level without much of a fight. Only a few times was I stopped in my tracks to fight a boss or solve an environmental puzzle. There is some reward for exploring the linear main path, but there isn't much variety throughout the short 4 - 5 hour play time.

Game Mechanics:

Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is very good about streamlining the controls. A simple, yet rewarding, combo system compliments the very fun swinging mechanic which makes it a blast just to swing around the level as your chosen Spider-Man. With the exception of one mini-game, there is virtually no touch-screen control, which, to be honest, is kind of refreshing for a DS game. It all just works well, which is a whole lot more than I can say for the Wii version.

Although, there is one blemish on an otherwise excellent Spider-Man adaptation: in order to transition between the different Spider-Man dimensions, you are forced to play a single annoying mini-game. With a piece of the mystery tablet in the center of the screen, you have to defend it from Mysterio's other-worldly creations. Using the stylus, you have to tap the baddies as they approach while simultaneously rotating the tablet piece to activate a dimensional portal. It is simply annoying and unnecessary. There were opportunities to include better or at least more mini-games; just including this one seems pointless.

The developers of Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions for the DS did not try to fix what wasn't broken. The Castlevania design still holds up well for handheld systems and mixing it with Spider-Man works surprisingly well. Even if you played Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions for any of the home consoles, the DS version is different enough (in both story and gameplay) to be worth checking out for Spidey fan.

-HanChi, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Hanchey

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