Platform: Gameboy Advance

Genre: Action

Publisher: Activision

Developer: Digital Eclipse

ESRB: E (Everyone)

Released: Q2 2002





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Spider-Man: The Movie

Score: 7.5/10



- 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 usually lame-brained

- Different gameplay than console counterparts

- Web-slinging takes some getting used to



Related Links:

Review: Spider-Man: The Movie (Playstation 2)

Review: Spider-Man: The Movie (XBox)


"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. "


After 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?  


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The 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.


Since 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 scheme.  



12 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.


Visuals 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).


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Controlling 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.


You 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.


You 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.


While 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.


—Lee Cieniawa

(July 13, 2002)


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