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Spider-Man: Edge of Time

Score: 75%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Beenox
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

After last year's Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions showing that you can have a good Spider-Man game even if there isn't a movie coming out, it's no wonder that the developers at Beenox were tasked with creating another adventure for the friendly, neighborhood wall crawler. The question is, how does Spider-Man: Edge of Time stand up, and even more interesting, how well does it do on the Nintendo 3DS.

First-thing, I will say that Edge of Time seems to have the cleanest and smoothest implementation of the system's 3D screen that I've seen yet. Pretty much every other game causes my eyes to start losing focus or aching within a half hour. The usual fix for this is to simple turn off the 3D aspect of the screen and keep going. Edge of Time, on the other hand, not only let me play much longer with the feature turned on, but the depth and dimension being portrayed just seemed all around better.

The rest of the visuals for the game is a bit of a mixed bag. I was surprised to realize that the 3DS version of this game wasn't another release of the standard DS version, but was actually the same game you will find on the consoles. I'm not saying that it has the same storyline, I'm saying it's the same game. There are some minor tweaks from what I observed while watching Geck0 play the PS3 version, but they were mostly cosmetic. For instance, where the Spider-Man you weren't controlling would appear in a corner of the screen for the console versions, the 3DS one puts the alternate Spidey on the bottom screen.

As impressed as I was that the developers put the full console version of the game onto a handheld, it also led to a few problems. Let's just say that there are quite a few times when the machine is trying to do just a bit more work than it can manage. There are times in the game when the enemies will start popping around the screen. If it were a pure framerate issue, then it would be more obvious since moving around would show similar jumping, but instead, what you see is flailing tentacles that look like they have very few frames of animation or enemies on the other side of the room disappearing and reappearing slightly closer as they run towards you. The game isn't broken, it's still playable, but when you get a lot of activity going on around you, these problems become very apparent.

Audio, on the other hand, is all good. Not only is the game fully voiced (again, this isn't just a hand-held version released alongside the bigger games like normal, its the full game) but there are quite a few good actors behind their characters. Josh Keaton and Christopher Daniel Barnes return from Shattered Dimensions to play Spider-Men, but this time Keaton portrays classic Spidey and Barnes switches from Noir to 2099. Add to that Val Kilmer as the game's main antagonist, Katee Sackhofff (Battlestar Galactica) as Black Cat 2099 and Smallville's Laura Vandervoort as Mary Jane and you have a great cast, one that you simply don't see on Nintendo handheld systems.


Spider-Man: Edge of Time plays a bit with the idea that Shattered Dimensions created. Where the previous game let you switch between four different wall crawlers, Edge of Time focuses on just two and attempts to get the gameplay of those two just right.

When Spider-Man 2099, AKA Miguel O'Hara, starts listening into one of Alchemax's scientists, Walker Sloan, he learns that the mad man plans to use his research in time travel to go back to the 1970's and create the Alchemax company long before its time. With the knowledge of advance technology and future events at his disposal, Sloan believes the past will be at his mercy. The worst part is, he succeeds. While O'Hara tries to stop him, he gets caught in the Time Gate when history gets reshaped. Emerging from the portal into a darker version of his history, he realizes that he needs help. With the use of some convenient plot devices, he is able to establish a mental connection with the original Spider-Man and enlist his help in reshaping the world to the way it used to be.

With the benefit of yet another glazed-over pseudo-scientific sounding piece of technology that seems to have something to do with the fact that there is a Time Gate open in both times, events that happen in one time immediately affect the other. Basically, this means that classic Spider-Man can change things in the past and O'Hara will see the change immediately. So, if 2099 Spidey is being attacks by giant robots, all Amazing Spider-Man has to do is destroy the prototypes. There are a lot of bits to this that don't really make sense, and red-blue Spider-Man comments frequently that his actions are having immediate changes to 2099 ... despite the hundred years or so difference between the two periods where any number of other events could change things. But anyway...

Unfortunately, Spider-Man: Edge of Time has a big problem with repetitiveness. While I've really enjoyed the game's story, many of the areas I've found myself trekking through are reuses of the same rooms, hallways and chambers. As a result, there are a lot of times when the game will just feel like a grind until you get to the next story element.

Edge of Time seems to try and relieve this issue by not letting you stay in one character for too long. While you won't be switching characters every time you turn around, it does seem to have a good idea of when you might have been doing the same thing a bit too much, at which point, the story will dictate a reason for you to switch times and characters.

Edge of Time also offer an ability upgrade system. Throughout the game, there are golden spiders and blue orbs that you can collect. Each one acts as currency for different types of abilities. The most abundant are the ones for the orbs and they will do everything from increase your character's health to give you more basic attacks. Meanwhile, the gold spider upgrades are more powerful moves like one that lets you temporarily freeze enemies in time as you go up and wail on them for a bit.


Spider-Man: Edge of Time's most difficult aspect is its repetitive nature. Every time you turn around, you are locked in a room that you've seen a few times before and you are surrounded by a bunch of enemies. At these times, you are typically locked in and can only leave once you find the enemy with the key and use that on the door.

Thankfully, you have your Spidey-sense and can tell which enemy is holding the key that will let you out. This ability is also a way to let you know where you are trying to go, which is good because there were a couple of rooms that required a lot of wall crawling to get through that I simply got lost in way too easily.

The places where Spider-Man gets really hard is typically during the boss battles. These are fights with enemies that, more often than not, simply feel cheap. If it isn't the over-powerful enemy that has a huge life bar, it's a boss that is very tricky to get to its weak point and actually deal damage. These parts specifically are really hard to get through.

Game Mechanics:

Spider-Man: Edge of Time has a few interesting aspects to it. For one, while there are some timed events where the Spider-Man in the future is in danger and the one in the past has to do something to save him, those aren't all too many. Yet somehow, the game kept making me think that time was running low. The banter and communication between the two characters combined with the game's action-hero-esque music really works to keep you moving as if you were under a time crunch.

Another aspect that I feel needs mentioning is the game's camera. While I am impressed that the developers were able to put the console version onto the 3DS, what the 3DS lacks is the same thing the PSP did, a second analog input for controlling the camera. Here, you use the Circle Pad to move your Spider-Men around, but if you want to change the camera, you have to use the D-pad. Since they are on the same side of the system, it is pretty much impossible to both move and look around at the same time.

So what's my recommendation? Well, that's a tough one. The game is fun, if not tedious at times. You are getting a visually-scaled down version of the console game, but there are some noticeable issues there, especially in the graphics department. I would say the game is at least a rental if you can't get a hold of the console versions which will run smoother than the 3DS version, but if you really want to see what the handheld can do ... or more accurately, if you want to see just beyond what the system can do, then Edge of Time is a good game for that. It looks really good, but there simply are times when it pushes the system a bit too far.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Related Links:

Windows Golden Trails 2: Lost Legacy Collector's Edition Nintendo DS I Spy Castle

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