Publisher: Activision Inc.

Developer: Digital Eclipse

Category: Action

Release Dates

N Amer - 04/16/2002

Spider-Man: The Movie Review

Spider-Man the Movie for GBA, like its console counterparts, is based on the recently released motion picture of the same name.  Unlike its console brethren however, this version is based only loosely on the movie and ties in a minimum of big-screen additions.  Activision opted to use only the base foundation of the film and create an original story that includes such well-known enemies as the Green Goblin, Scorpion, Vulture, Kraven, and shocker.  Someone has apparently brought Spidey’s most powerful archenemies together to unleash full out carnage on New York City.  You’ll control Spider-Man as he attempts to thwart their plan by using combo attacks, your spider-sense, and various power-ups. 


Graphics are nothing to write home about, they are adequate but I expect more visual splendor from my 32-bit Gameboy Advance.  The bad-guys in this game feel more like props than actual enemies.  Levels are visually tedious, there is rarely anything new to look at in a single stage, you’ll find yourself progressing through levels full of the same stuff that is simply set up in different configurations.  There are multiple cut-scenes throughout the game, these are simple little ‘thought bubble’ dialogue moments that transpire between levels.  The introduction sports a cool photo-realistic 5-second animation taken from the movie that looks surprisingly cool for a handheld.  Spider-Man looks a tad worse then he did in his appearance on the Super Nintendo, but the animation is more fluid and cohesive this time around.


Music consists of electronic and fast tempo midi-like soundtracks similar to some of the music found in the console versions of this game.  There are digitized sound clips for enemy grunts when you defeat an opponent that sound like they are being piped through an AM-only radio using tin cans as speakers.  The various comical-type sounds for landing punches on foes sound good though and like Spider-Man SNES are accentuated visually with comic-style exclamations like ‘Pow!’, ‘Thwap!’, and ‘Bam!’.


Controlling the wall-crawler is a piece of cake.  Simply touching a wall will automatically attach you to it, allowing you to move around in any direction by using the D-pad.  B attacks, and A will jump.  You can perform combo attacks by simply tapping the B button when in a combat situation.  Pressing jump when you are already in the air will allow Spider-Man to use his web-swing.  Pressing the R-button and a direction on the D-pad will allow you to use your zip-line to attach and zip onto a nearby object.  Hitting the L-button will allow you to use your special moves.  Spidey has a total of 7 different special moves that are acquired by collecting ‘Web-Ups’ that replace Spider-Man’s existing special move with the special move of the Web-Up you just picked up.  The different Web-Ups are Power Web, Sticky Web, Web Bomb, Web Shield, Net Blast, Invulnerability, and Arachnid Strength.  The system the game uses for Web-Ups is not unlike that of Castlevania’s method for obtaining different weapons. 


Stages are primarily side-scrolling, action is pretty slow and enemies very predictable.  Progressing through a level usually entails something like destroying 10 barrels of toxic ooze before they are unleashed on New York City, or chasing a boss-enemy through a level until you reach the end of the stage and have to fight him.  A few stages in the game allow you to control Spider-Man as he swings through the New York skyline via a pseudo-3D rendered sequence.  These levels are particularly exciting but unfortunately are few and far between.


Boss fights are enjoyable since the gameplay dynamics are varied for each end-level character.  For example, when you fight the Vulture you’ll have to perform attacks while attached vertically to the side of a building, lunging at him through the air with jump kicks and web attacks.  When fighting Kraven however, you will be required to turn on light switches in a cramped building hallway to be able to see where he is, all the while he will be busy turning the lights back off and attempting to surprise attack you in the dark.


In some instances your spider-sense will alert you that trouble is afoot, if your spider-sense is tingling then there is a good chance a train is barreling down the tracks moments away from smashing into you, or a piece of concrete is about to drop on top of you.  Some levels have a puzzle element to them, the game requires you to retrieve multiple colored keycards to open certain doors to progress, so expect quite a bit of backtracking in specific levels that require you to acquire keycards.  A web with 15 areas that are filled up represent Spider-Man’s life bar, each time you are damaged a piece of the web will be taken away until you lose them all and have to restart.


This game is basically your run-of-the-mill side-scrolling platform game that has its moments.  On one hand, Spider-Man can perform a wide range of moves that are easily executed but on the other hand, the levels are generic and require keycards and backtracking, ugh.  Upon finishing the game you’ll have the option to warp to any level you want.  Where are the bonus mini-games, or new modes of play?  Quite simply, there is none, and that is ultimately what relegates this title to mediocrity.  It should be mentioned that it is possible to unlock two new costumes and 15 movie stills but I’d hardly consider these worthy unlockables.  If you’re a hardcore Spider-Man fan then you will undoubtedly find a lot to like about this game but if you take a neutral perspective to the web-head then you’ll consider this game a middle-of-the-road side-scroller that does little to innovate.  Either way this game is definitely worth your time, but only as a rental.


Reviewer's Scoring Details

Gameplay: 7.1
Takes a little getting used to but considering the wide array of different spidey-manuevers it’s a wonder that the control scheme is as simple as it is.  Jumping tends to inadvertently plant you on ceilings or walls that you didn’t necessarily want to attach to but this is a minor gripe.

Graphics: 6.8
Not exactly 32-bit quality, but it does manage to successfully convey that trademark Spider-Man feel.  Animation is fluid, though enemies seem like they are remote controlled animatronic robots that simply go through their routine repeatedly.  Graphical atmospheric additions are nothing special but get the job done, and objects are repeated far too often as you progress through any given level.

Sound: 7.2
I appreciate the fact that Activision went to the trouble of digitizing certain enemy voices but they sound horrible.  Music is fast-paced and appropriate, albeit rehashed.  The fighting sound effects are the best aural addition in the game though since they sound like solid comic-style type sound clips that you might hear on a quality cartoon.

Difficulty: Medium
Spider-Man The Movie includes 12 expansive stages that require a fair amount of practice and memorization to complete.  The game will take some time to complete but there is a good chance you’ll put the game down far before you see the end credits roll thanks to the annoying backtracking and ridiculous objective requirements.

Concept: 5.2 
Conceptually this game has it made in the shade, the movie sold through the roof, the installed fan base is huge – sadly though, Activision has done little to innovate the existing foundation of past side-scrolling games.  Couple that with the fact that this is merely the latest of countless Spider-Man games that have been released and the end result is a 5.2. 

Overall: 7
Spider-Man: The Movie GBA is a entertaining little game if your into side-scrollers or Spider-Man but I wouldn’t recommend a purchase since the action is fairly slow and you get next to nothing in the way of bonus additions.  Its safe to assume though that this game will sell like wildfire thanks to its content license, thankfully Activision was able to bring a decent game to the table instead of just whipping something up in a rush and relying on the Spider-Man name to sell copies.

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GZ Rating


Does the GBA have what it takes to do justice to Spider-Man in all his glory?  Nope.

Reviewer: Carlos McElfish

Review Date: 06/03/2002

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