Spiderman 2 Nintendo DS Review

Getting a full game out for a new console launch has to be tough, especially with the complexity of today's games. The DS sort of came from nowhere, and it seems most developers were left with no clue how to use such unique hardware. "Spiderman 2" sets the example with shoddy level design, cheap enemies, and ridiculous objectives.

Based on a movie you might have heard about, Spiderman begins a quest to save the New York from the hands of Dr. Octopus. He needs to complete various quests (some within a certain time period) in each stage to advance. Moves are not exactly plentiful, but there is enough here to get Spidey out of any situation.

Most of the game is played from a 2-1/2 D perspective. Most of the game simply has the super hero running from left to right, beating down bad guys or looking for people in trouble. A few of the boss fights and brief segments (defusing a bomb for example) use the touch screen capabilities the DS is already known for, but these mostly seem like after thoughts. This basically boils down to an upgrade of the GBA Advance version of the same game.

Major problems begin right from the start in level 1. Here, players must traverse a burning building and rescue people who are trapped inside due to arsonists. This is fine, but you have absolutely no idea where these people are. No map, no arrow guide, nothing. The bottom screen is completely wasted and could have been used for some form of help, not just showing how long you're taking. Add in some stages that require tasks to be completed inside ridiculous time constraints, and you have a frustrating game experience.

Making matters worse, there are countless cheap obstacles impede progress. Though he has a nice move set, even the best Spidermen will get stuck in a segment once in a while. Usually it boils down to taking a hit and using the few seconds of invincibility to run through the hazard.

Combat is simple and fans of Spiderman titles will recognize the combos as he dishes out punishment. This is the same move set he used back on the PS One, same animation routines and all. One new move is the ability to slow down time when his spider-senses get going, something obviously inspired by the recent success of "Viewtiful Joe." Unlockable special moves, when found, can be performed with a quick tap of the R button. It doesn't really matter that these are included. Standard punching and kicking is usually enough to get you through any fight.

Obvious time was spent with this titles graphics engine and it shows. Things start off with a pre-rendered video, impressive especially considering how small these little chips are. The city is rendered beautifully and swinging around is one of the most exhilarating experiences you'll ever have on a portable. Everything here uses a very high resolution, polygons stay together, and the frame rate is a solid 60 at all times. Some of the boss fights use the second screen for a weak first person viewpoint and standard view on the top. It's a nice touch.

For the most part, the same can't be said for the rather mundane soundtrack. It just kind of sits in the background as the on-screen action moves along. It has a decent beat and pace, but it never really sticks with you. Voice samples are infuriating, especially hostages that constantly scream "Help Me Spiderman!" when you're close. If you can't find them (which seems to happen far too often), they just keep on screaming until you do. There are no voice samples from the film's actors. Everything is done via text during intermissions.

Logically, had the developers had more time, this likely could have been something different (in a good way). There is surely some potential for a Spiderman game using the touch screen in some way. Sadly, that's not what has been done here and what we are left with is an archaic title that very well could have been handled on some classic hardware like the NES if it wasn't for the graphics engine.

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