Platform: Gameboy Advance
Developer: Digital Eclipse
ESRB: E (Everyone)
Released: Q2 2002
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Spider-Man: The Movie
- Brings back
memories of some favorite Genesis superhero games
- Most visuals
are better than average for GBA
- Who doesn’t like Spider-Man?
- Enemy AI
gameplay than console counterparts
- Web-slinging takes some getting used to
really is a title better suited for GBA-owning Spider-Man fans looking
for some diversionary gameplay. SMTM really just passes as an acceptable
action GBA title.
a big summer blockbuster movie hits theater screens, it’s almost a
certainty that there will be some type of movie-inspired game appearing
on at least one video game system. When the movie is as big as this
summer’s mega-hit Spider-Man, EVERY console gets treated to a
movie-based game. Along with the PS2, Xbox, and GameCube Spider-Man: The
Movie (SMTM) third-person action titles, a 2D side-scrolling/psuedo-3D
action version is available for the Game Boy Advance. The movie has been
very successful, setting off a national Spider-Mania, and so has the
line of console games. SMTM is one of the hottest sellers today, showing
up on the top-ten selling console titles list not only with the PS2
version, but also the Xbox and GameCube renditions. But how good is the
decidedly different handheld SMTM, which doesn’t have the gaming
engine power of the big three next-generation consoles to work with?
result is a mixed bag of Spidey action. The look of SMTM is good by GBA
standards (but, of course, nowhere near what you find in the console
versions). This title has the look of a Genesis superhero side-scroller.
My first impression of SMTM was that it reminded me A LOT visually and
in its level layout of the Wolverine or X-Men Genesis games, which is
not necessarily a bad thing.
Nintendo’s GBA isn’t capable of producing true 3D graphics, it
relies on trickery and pushing the GBA to its extreme visual capacity
limits to give the appearance of 3D web slinging through the skyscrapers
which are encountered in the game’s bonus levels. But the controls
needed to navigate on your web through the skies of New York in these
levels aren’t exactly easy to get accustomed to. And if you don’t
figure them out quickly, the great-looking bonus stages end
frustratingly quick to the point that you won’t even bother attempting
to complete them if you haven’t grasped the web-swinging control
levels make up the entire game, many of which are inspired by the
console levels. On most you’ll be doing 2D side-scrolling fighting
against an army of generic miscreants that either engage you in
hand-to-hand combat or hurl incendiary weapons your way. Spider-Man has
weapons at his disposal too, and using web bombs, power web, and sticky
web, turn out to be some of the best methods to dispatch enemies. SMTM
also has you squaring off against the same batch of boss characters that
appear in the console version. Vulture, Shocker, Scorpion, Kraven, and
the final showdown against Green Goblin are supposed to be the toughest
opposition in the game.
of Spider-Man and the boss characters are better than average, but the
minor criminals that you run into are generic -- reminiscent of what you
would expect from the Genesis/SNES era. I did get a kick out of the
effects that occurr when you kick or punch enemies. It’s given the
campy 1960s Batman television show treatment where you’ll see the
result of your Spidey-blows spelled out comic book style like “BAM”
and “POW” on-screen (which is also a equivalent semblance to Comic
Zone’s that old Genesis under-appreciated classic approach to whooping
on bad guys).
Spider-Man initially can be a sticky issue with SMTM, especially if you,
like me, have any of the three console versions. Trying to switch from
Spidey action on my Xbox using all the buttons, triggers, and analog
sticks on its controller to the GBA and only the directional pad,
“A” and “B” buttons, and two GBA triggers will take some
acclimation. Movement and the jump, attack, and weapon functions,
however, can be picked up after a level or so. But learning an effective
web-swinging technique will take time. Personally I only used it when
absolutely necessary, instead relying on jump attacks to get the
crime-fighting job done.
won’t face a tough challenge getting through SMTM. There are a few
levels where you’ll need to replay to get through, but for most areas
you can get to the next stage on one try. The relative short game length
caused by the lowbrow artificial intelligence is the game’s downfall.
With a few hours of gaming time, SMTM can be easily defeated.
can use some rather pedestrian techniques to conquer most of the boss
characters too. Against the M.E.C.H. HK unit boss, all you have to do is
basically stay in one location, jump and fire your weapon at the M.E.C.H.,
go back and re-load your weaponry, and repeat until it is destroyed.
This kind of strategy can be employed against most boss enemies. Once
you find a good location on each of the levels to attack from, you will
inevitably find taking out the bad guy an easy task. The harder
assignments you face are levels where you are on a timing-based mission,
such as level 10: the Carnival of Terror. Spider-Man must defuse bombs
before they can injure or kill innocent civilians on Coney Island.
Fortunately there are enough of these sorts of challenges to make up for
the weak AI techniques utilized by SMTM’s bosses.
the game looks good and controls easily enough in most instances, the
weak AI robs Spider-Man: The Movie of much of its fun factor, being too
easy for many GBA players. This really is a title better suited for
GBA-owning Spider-Man fans looking for some diversionary gameplay. SMTM
really just passes as an acceptable action GBA title.
(July 13, 2002)
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