Title  : Spider-Man
Platforms  : Sony PlayStation, Nintendo 64, Sega Dreamcast
Publisher  : Activision
ESRB Rating  : Everyone
Game Rating  : 9.4
Review by  : Ken Gagne

Spins a web any size, catches thieves just like flies. 

Is he strong? Listen, bud! He's got radioactive blood. 

Hey there, here comes Spider-Man, an excellent game developed by Neversoft and published by Activision for the PlayStation, Nintendo 64, and Sega Dreamcast. [PSX version reviewed here] 

Possibly the finest superhero video game ever, Spider-Man is a 3D platformer in which players help Spidey, who's been framed, clear his name and stop a citywide disaster. The adventure will take him from rooftops to sewers to subways and beyond. 

Spidey's rogue gallery includes archenemies Scorpion, Rhino, Mysterio, Doctor Octopus, and Venom, with cameos by many stars of the Marvel Universe. Each appears throughout a single driving storyline that leaves true believers and newcomers alike eager to reach the next level. There are six levels comprising a total of 34 areas, each at which the player can save his progress to a memory card. 

Spider-Man truly captures the feel of what it must be like to be your friendly neighborhood wall crawler. There's plenty of web swinging, wall crawling, and fighting bad guys, with a bit of stealth and puzzle-solving thrown in for good measure. 

Adding to the comic book feel is the excellent voice acting. With narration by Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee (just like the cartoons!) and voice parts by experienced cartoon voice actors, Spider-Man is seldom a quiet game. Players will be laughing aloud at the quips Spidey has ready for any given situation. 

Graphically, Spider-Man is an average game with neither anything too spectacular nor any major flaws. Without analog control, it's difficult to get Spider-Man to face a precise direction, but a targeting mode helps in taking specific shots. The camera keeps a tight bead on Spidey, making you feel like you're in a cartoon as you swing from unseen buildings. It even changes alignment to show things from Spider-Man's perspective as he perches on a wall or ceiling. Spidey's posture, mannerisms, and bright blue-and-red costume are all appropriately cartoony. 

Between levels, players are treated to a full-motion video that advances the plot. Though not preferable to hand-drawn cartoons, and with low-quality facial features, these movies also capture the comic essence of Spider-Man with their witty banter and plot developments. 

You won't get caught in any webs of control issues. Spider-Man uses all the buttons to good effect. The main action buttons are punch, kick, jump, and web attack, with the shoulder buttons used for targeting and swinging weblines. There are four kinds of web attacks, from impact webbing to spiked web fists and a protective web dome. Employing these various webs requires pressing Triangle and a directional simultaneously, the timing of which takes a while to learn before becoming second nature. There's even a "kid mode" which simplifies the controls for younger gamers. A training mode gives the opportunity to practice and perfect an assortment of skills. 

While swinging from building to building, keep an eye peeled for extras! Aside from powerups (such as magnesium webbing and Spidey Armor), players can access additional costumes, comic book covers, and more. Want to go toe-to-toe with Doc Ock in your symbiote threads, or dressed as Peter Parker? No problem! 

If your goal isn't to find anything but simply to save the day, it won't take you long to do so. There are four difficulty settings, and on the Normal setting, the average gamer will be swinging home after eight hours or so — but only after taking his beatings. 

While the gameplay may not be entirely innovative, its superb execution and implementation of comic book-style action and atmosphere makes Spider-Man a game to not let slip through your web. 


This article is copyright (c) 2000, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 18-Sep-00