Publisher: Activision Inc.
Developer: Vicarious Visions
N Amer - 05/04/2007
Spider-Man 3 Review
Game Boy Advance is not known for its groundbreaking experiences. Of the 200+ GBA titles I’ve played, over 90% were either ports or clones of SNES titles.
Every now and then the exhaustive chain is broken and a special game breaks through. Since Nintendo has moved onto the DS and Wii, you would hope that any potential success story would come with an easy-to-read tagline. “Play me! I don’t suck!” Until that idea catches on with marketing, you’ll just have to trust your gut.
For the past several years, Spider-Man has been a name gamers and moviegoers could count on to deliver solid action. I expected good things from the Wii version, which delivered an on-the-edge-of-your-seat experience. On the Game Boy end I was hoping for an adventure that matched the quality of Ghost Rider – fast action mixed with decent challenges. Innovation, however, was not my expectations list.
Call me stunned the first time I picked up the GBA and discovered Spider-Man 3’s control scheme. It is an impeccable translation of the stunts and attacks Spider-Man performs on the big screen. It is also the primary reason for this game’s success. Tap the A button to jump; double-tap to swing. His swing move can be executed as many times as you like to fly through levels, bypass fiery passages, and to swoop over and into enemies that won’t stop spawning. Steering is a breeze – just press the D-pad in the direction you want to travel.
You can also use your web as a grappling hook to pull yourself up to the ceiling, toward enemies, or to grab civilians and pull them away from danger. By the end of the first minute of play you’ll feel like a pro, slinging webs as if you had been doing this your entire life. It’s very close to the experience of the console versions but from a 2D gameplay perspective.
Tangle enemies and stop them from attacking by tapping the R button. Spider-Man will fire a blast that envelops the enemy in webbing. One punch is all it takes to break ‘em free, which also causes them to fall back and lose a chunk of health. Enemies cannot be attacked while on the ground (silly game restrictions!), but there’s nothing to stop you from striking as soon as he rises.
The basic motions and level speed are very quick. Spider-Man doesn’t perform his moves lying down – he dives into action, running and jumping faster than anyone outside of Sega’s little blue hedgehog. I know that doesn’t sound like something that matters, and really it shouldn’t. But when you play a game that’s anything less, suddenly speed becomes a major factor. With Spider-Man 3, it’ll never cross your mind.
If you’ve seen the new movie, you’ll notice that the game loosely follows its plot. There are the expected enemy run-ins (Sandman), dozens of walls to crawl, and a never-ending array of club-wielding thugs to beat on. When you’re in an area where enemies won’t stop spawning, chances are you need to fill your rage meter before the level can be finished. There are only two ways to increase your rage: by defeating enemies or by finding a rare pickup. Once the meter has been filled, Parker goes over to the dark side and becomes Black-Suited Spider-Man. In this faster, stronger, and more venomous form, Spider-Man can plow through designated walls. Normal Spider-Man does not have the strength to do it, hence the unlimited number of enemies in certain parts of the game.
Spider-Man 3’s levels aren’t always as impressive as the control and combat elements. Most are great fun. You’ll chase the Green Goblin by riding on top of a moving vehicle, bust into burning buildings to save lives, and generally feel like you’re a part of Peter Parker’s world. But there are a couple of stages with objectives that aren’t overly clear. You’ll be given the basics: save civilians, extinguish fires, destroy an enemy security system, etc. Most of these objectives are met with clearly designed level paths. If necessary, the game usually provides a radar system (Spider Sense) that pinpoints where you need to go.
However, there are a couple of stages where the game neglects to do this. I’m not looking for straight linearity, but the GBA is very limited in its graphic capabilities. Thus, many areas look the same. This makes it hard to decipher which areas have already been visited. Although it doesn’t take very long to find your way, the shift from non-stop, forward-moving action to a level that’s a heavy on backtracking was not welcome.
As for the rest of the graphics, ignore the ugly images plastered on the back of the box. They’ve been enlarged to the point of pixelation, which is not a true representation of Spider-Man 3’s visuals. The characters and backgrounds are very low on detail. However, Spider-Man’s animations are top-notch. They’re deeper, more realistic, and more varied than the boarders in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater (the GBA edition).
It won’t take you long to finish Spider-Man 3, as it is a very short game. But it’s also enormously fun to play several times over. Once a level has been completed, it may be played at any time – eliminating the need to play through the brief portions of the game that are less desirable.
Review Scoring Details for Spider-Man 3
Top-of-the-line web-slinging fun. Spider-Man 3’s controls are excellent. The combat is fun, the missions are appropriately paced (mostly), and the replay value is very high.
Great animations are noteworthy in any video game. In this case, however, it is the only graphic element worth mentioning.
Better than most. The music changes from stage to stage and is generally worth listening to.
Not a great challenge, not overly easy – Spider-Man 3 is a game anyone can play and beat.
An amazing, well-planned and well-developed video game based on and wholeheartedly inspired by a great comic book franchise. This isn’t merely an action game with licensed imagery – it truly is, in every sense of the word, a Spider-Man game.
Judging by Nintendo’s sales figures, it is practically guaranteed that you have at least one GBA game-playing device in your house (either the old GBA, GBA SP, GB Micro, GBA-to-GameCube converter, or Nintendo DS). That being the case, there is no excuse to avoid playing this version of Spider-Man 3.
Spider-Man 3 Comments
GameZone Review Detail
An amazing, well-planned and well-developed video game based on and wholeheartedly inspired by a great comic book franchise
Reviewer: Louis Bedigian
Review Date: 05/14/2007
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