SPIDER-MAN / Activision / Gameboy Color

The Gameboy Color was a notorious dumping ground for poor quality games with high-profile licenses, but this particular Spider-Man game (developed by Vicarious Visions and published by Activision) has its points. I'm not ready to go so far as to call it a *good* game, but it's a little more inspired than most licensed platformer junk. The first interesting point about it is that it is only semi-linear, in the style of the later Metroid and Castlevania games, and even has a rudimentary experience system to boot. The game gives you one overall objective at a time and even uses flashing signs to point you towards it, but nearly the entire world map is open to you from the beginning of the game. Spidey gains experience points from cranking on all the random thugs running around New York's streets, and as he gains levels he gains more attacks (such as a 3-punch combo and a swinging kick) as well as greater health and resistance to damage.

The play control is actually a lot smoother and more sensible than many of the later Spider-Man games, particularly with regards to the web swinging. You simply hit the jump button once again while in the air to shoot a web out and swing forward. It's simple and a lot more fast and fun than the bizarre schemes cooked up in later games. The fighting is pretty stiff, but with use of the Impact Web attack (performed by rolling quickly from the jump button to the attack button) it becomes tolerable. Spidey also starts out with a pretty generous portion of health and there's a lot of hearts scattered about and frequently dropped by enemies, so outside of the boss battles there aren't too many sections that are unplayably difficult. Additionally, you can crawl on all flat surfaces and will actually crawl around and over ledges instead of coming to a dead dumb stop.

The cutscenes and music have a sort of Ninja Gaiden vibe to them, very dark and moody, making not a bad job of it with the very limited powers of the Gameboy Color. Additionally, the high-energy music uses the Gameboy Color's weak sound chip fairly well.

Not to say the game doesn't have its problems - outside of the plot events/boss battles, there isn't a whole lot to do in this one but beat up the same ol' thugs on the streets of New York (and it takes forever to level off of them). The game gets a little clunky at times, such as when there's a lot of ledges at different levels and you need to switch from crawling to standing to deal with a foe who's suddenly popped up. And then there's the combat, which employs the good old "enemies don't bounce back or pause when you hit them yet they damage you on contact" style that has maddened many an 8-bit gamer. Certainly not an outstanding title by any stretch of the imagination, but it does more things right than most Spider-Man games do.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video