Spider-Man has been in video games for quite some time now, and somehow his games have never hit the low point in licensed gaming. Sure there have been some sub-par installments, but nothing that rivals Super-Man 64 or Batman: Dark Tomorrow. I’ve been reading comic books since the wee age of eight and a majority of my collection from my youth are survival horror games and licensed video games. When I unboxed my old PlayStation 1 games recently I was pleasantly surprised to find I had both the Spider-Man titles and sadly, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker; what a stinker that was. This game was developed by NeverSoft, which at the time was in its prime, they were pumping out great games back then, and this one was at the top with Tony Hawk Pro Skater.
The story for this game feels as if it was pulled right from the early 2000 Amazing Spider-Man comic books, which brings back some amazing memories for me. The cheesiness and campiness of the comic book completely seep into the game which made me smile the whole time. The game begins as Peter Parker and Eddie Brock photograph Dr. Octavius showing off a new scientific discovery. Much to Parker’s surprise Spider-Man arrives and steals what the good doctor was presenting. Parker realizes that he’s being framed and must get to the bottom of it before someone gets hurt, or before he gets killed by the NYPD. To find out who truly framed Parker you have to punch your way through some of his greatest rogue’s gallery including Scorpion, Venom and Rhino, and with the help of Black Cat and Daredevil Parker finally wins the day in a spectacular fashion.
It surprises me that such an antiquated game has some pretty tight controls. As a gamer accustom to using a stick on the controller, playing with the D-pad was an eye opener; plus the fact that my camera controls were in the hands of the developers took some getting use to as well. X is jump and if you jump off a building pressing R2 will allow you to web swing from building to building. Once you land on a rooftop you are most likely going to be attacked by some grunts. Square is punch, Circle is kick and if you have some web fluid you can web up a criminal with Triangle. As you progress in the game you will have to do some pretty precise web-slinging. To help you along with this Neversoft put in a First-Person mode, so just hold down L2 and use the (shudder) inverted controls to land your web where you need it. Should you be surrounded by copious amounts of evil you can pick up crates and barrels with Square and throw them with the same. These controls never hindered me during gameplay. I did get lost a few times because it is difficult to see where you need to go in certain levels, but my enjoyment was never at a loss.
Seeing as this is a PlayStation 1 game, the graphics are not that pretty. Spider-Man’s suit is missing the black webbing on his costume due to the low tech, but he still looks like Spider-Man, which is a plus. The levels really aren’t too detailed and you can get pretty badly lost in some of the darker parts of the game. I was running around a furnace room for what seemed like hours until I realized a dark smudge on the screen was the way out. Neversoft did try really hard with the main villains and heroes of the game: Venom looks good, Black Cat looks good albeit a bit mannish. I never questioned which villain I was fighting or which hero was helping me out, which was a nice relief. The icing on the cake was the fact that Stan “Excelsior” Lee steps in to narrate the game for us. This is probably one of my favorite parts of the game, as every chapter you begin he gives a little update on what our hero is up to. I wish that I could have Stan Lee read my comic books to me, I think that would be amazing, seeing as his voice is perfect for narration; I just won’t have him read Batman or Superman to me.
For all the gamers and comic book nerds that are looking forward to Insomniac’s take on the web-slinger this would be a nice little title to play through. A person could beat this in one sitting if they go to the bathroom before they start to play. There isn’t too much content to the game, but it is worth it to take a look at Neversoft’s version of Spider-Man, with his own story that isn’t linked to the movies or too hard to the comic books. Insomniac stated that their game has its own story and isn’t linked at all to the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming, which makes me even more excited. Retro gamers will love the look and feel of this game and comic book aficionados will enjoy all the Easter Eggs and throwbacks to the comic books. It is nice to play an older licensed game and not hate myself later for it. If you’ve not played this title, have an itch for some web-slinging and can find it at a decent price you should, it will whet your appetite for the upcoming game!