|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Vicarious Visions||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 4, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Philip Hanan
May 11, 2007 - Spider-Man! Spider-Man! Available on every platform known to man! Uses a stylus any size, touch screen controls that mesmerize! Look out! Here's come Spider-Man 3 for the Nintendo DS!
Spider-Man has a long history of being on Nintendo handheld consoles, but until Vicarious Visions developed for the Spider-Man series, no portable game did him justice, except Spider-Man 2 for the PSP, which played much more like a home console game. Vicarious Visions released two out of three previous Spider-Man games on the Nintendo DS. The first release was Spider-Man 2, the movie game. It focused on 3D style gameplay with touch screen based controls for certain moves, but not much else. The second was Ultimate Spider-Man, based upon the modern comic book series, which featured touch screen controls for half of the control scheme. The jump to touch screen controls seemed to work well. That's why Vicarious Visions completely jumped on the touch screen bandwagon this time around.
The visuals are very 3D and graphically better than the N64 Spider-Man game, but the actual gameplay itself is set on a 2D plane, which may turn off fans of the most modern Spider-Man games. For those who have spent years enjoying side scrolling gameplay, you should be pleased by how well the system works.
The only non-touch screen controls are for the directions. Traditional game players use the D-Pad to walk around while they use the stylus to perform all moves and special moves. For left-handed stylus users, you can use X, Y, B, and A to walk around and use your left hand to hold the stylus. I'm a traditional righty, so I can't tell you how well left-handed controls work, but I would estimate the response time of using the buttons would be slightly slower than with one full D-Pad.
The touch screen controls every move, but the moveset differs based upon a situation, making the controls much less frustrating. I was worried every little move would have to be extremely precise, but most are activated based upon how the battle goes.
For example, if you want to use your web outside of battle or inside, you simply swipe the screen in the desired direction and you can use it. Or for more precise web control and direction, you can double tap the screen. During a battle, your moves will be geared towards it. If you're far away from a thug, you will use webbing to pull him near, but if close, then you can start tapping or swiping the screen randomly and pulling off some great punches and kicks. You can try to memorize touch screen patterns and even perform awesome moves like webbing a thug, then spinning him around while bashing him against the ground, but I'm the kind of Spider-Man gamer who likes mashing buttons. I just love to see what kind of combos I can get by swiping randomly. I admit that sometimes you need to watch an enemy to see if he's blocking, so you may want to learn a few touch screen controls. Webbing comes in handy for certain. Unfortunately, you won't always be able to pull off what you want if you aren't somewhat precise.
The game runs well with the touch screen control scheme and the levels are quite massive for a portable game. The animations aren't made up of high quality 60 frames like a lot of modern games, but at least there isn't huge slowdown going on.
The voice acting is alright for a handheld game, but I would have loved to see some real Spider-Man 3 movie scenes and not some voiced-over cutscenes. I really tire of movie games not using actual scenes from a movie. Fortunately, all the villains from the film are in the game, including Sandman, Venom, and Harry Goblin. There is also an original villain named Dewolfe who leads Spider-Man on many pursuits.
Overall, the game is pretty good for a handheld. The action is tight, and the controls are unique. Except for extra strength and coolness, the Black Symbiote costume doesn't seem as unique as in the console games, but good enough to make you want to try this game out if you don't own a home console. I found it rather short (around 5-6 hours), but that's about twice as long as it takes to beat Spider-Man 2 for the PSP.
The game does provide some extras for you to do like tracking down criminals, locating tokens, and using money to buy more moves. It also provides a wireless multiplayer challenge. In all, the theme isn't much different than the console version of Spider-Man 2. Still, I believe younger DS owners will be pleased by the gameplay and the portablility. Older gamers will probably be put off by the lack of depth in the game. I admit that I may sell my copy soon due to the short gameplay, but I had a fun run through a unique game. I recommend the game for gamers 8-13 and for hardcore Spider-Man fans. If you have any other console than a DS, however, I would read our reviews of the home console versions and the PSP version before you think about buying this version.
CCC Freelance Writer