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Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions
Score: 5.5 / 10
In the gaming market, Spider-Man shares a
few similarities with Sonic the Hedgehog; a wise-cracking mascot beloved
by children and grown-ups worldwide who has been the unfortunate star of
a decadeís worth of inconsistent games ranging from mediocre to awful.
Much like Sega, Activision wonít stop experimenting on their
wall-crawling cash cow, and their latest take on Marvelís most popular
superhero attempts to add four times the Spider-Men, hoping it equals
four times the fun. Featuring four different worlds based on Spideyís
more famous spin-offs, Shattered Dimensions has
crossed over several different platforms,
including the Nintendo DS, which weíll be reviewing now.
The plot of Shattered Dimensions begins with a botched robbery attempt,
where Spidey swings onto the scene to stop Mysterio from stealing a
mystical artifact called the ďTablet of Order and ChaosĒ. After a
one-sided boss battle, the tablet is shattered during the conflict, its
scattered across different dimensions. With the assistance of Madame Web
(ever the go-to character for magic-related Spider-Man stories, at least
if Dr Strange is unavailable), the alternate Spider-Men work together in
retrieving the fragments from their respective dimensions, keeping them
from falling into villainous hands.
While far from being the worst Spider-Man story, Shattered Dimensionsí
writing is nothing more than a pretence to bridge the different
spin-offs together, which should be sufficient enough for longtime fans.
In addition to the standard Amazing universe, players will also control
the jacket-wearing, gun-toting Spider-Man from Spider-Man Noir and the
futuristic gliding Spidey from Spider-Man 2099. Curiously, the Ultimate
Spider-Man universe, which stars a younger Spider-Man wearing the black
symbiote suit, was left out of this version, cutting the original four
worlds down to three.
The biggest difference, however, is the way the DS version plays. While
the console versions is strictly a third-person beat-em-up, this
portable iteration goes for a classic 2D look and feel, where each of
the Spideys can run, jump, swing across each area while also fending off
multiple enemies with an assortment of moves. The game is modeled like a
typical 2D platformer, but actually draws its biggest inspiration from
the classic Metroid games from the NES/SNES era; Each of the different
themed worlds take place in a large hub divided into sections (aka
rooms) which are displayed on a mini-map on the top screen. While
Spider-Man is given the illusion of freedom, itís impossible to navigate
every area from the start due to locked doors, far-off switches, and
other obstacles that require a certain ability to pass through. In order
to obtain these powers, each Spider-Man must follow the predetermined
path, take out a boss, and pass the tablet fragment to the next
Spider-Person: rinse and repeat.
And thatís the biggest problem with Shattered Dimensions: despite the
stylistically different locations and the passable imitation of the
Metroid formula, once youíve seen one world, youíve seen them all. The
areas feature the same kind of blockades, the enemies come in the same
variety (between punch-fodder baddies, weapon-wielding enemies, and
shield-carrying defensive mooks, with the occasional big bruiser), and
the only real difference between the Spideys is in their navigation
abilities (2099 Spider-Man can glide, Noir Spider-Man can detect hidden
switches), but since these powers become available all at once, even
that distinction is quickly neutralized.
Despite the monotonous gameplay, all of the wall crawling, web swinging,
and villain pounding handles well, and the inclusion of the multiple
Spider-Men and their respective foes should elicit excitement from the
under-aged gamer (or collection-crazy fanboys). Whether their
voice-acted dialog will amuse or infuriate you is dependent on the
individual (one villain proclaims how Spidey will soon become ďArach-DEADĒ).
The visuals arenít exactly ugly, but would have worked better as 2D
sprites instead of muddy, super deformed polygons. Aside from using the
top screen for the mini-map, the only other DS feature is a touch-screen
mini-game that is required to advance in the game; needless to say, itís
an embarrassment for everyone involved.
While far from redeeming the Spider-Man videogame license, Shattered
Dimensions deserves merit for maintaining a better quality experience
than many of its more offensive predecessors. Itís a satisfying
experience for younger fans, and fills a quota for comic-reading gamers.