RELEASED: April 16, 2002
AVAILABLE ON: GBA
DEVELOPER(S): Digital Eclipse Software
Sam Raimi's first Spider-Man movie premiered in the summer of 2002 and featured Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man, Willem Dafoe as the Green Goblin and the gorgeous Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson. Not only did the movie become one of the greatest box office successes of all time, it was also named one of the best live-action superhero films of all time, alongside Richard Donner's Superman from 1978 and Tim Burton's Batman from 1989. Activision had been cooking up a game based on the movie for quite some time, and the game was actually released a month prior to the film's theatrical launch. The game was met with overwhelming response, considering it was a movie license (the Xbox version holds the highest average of the different versions on Game Rankings, at 78.17%). On the exact same date of this game's release, Activision also unleashed a little more comic book-like Game Boy Advance counterpart called Spider-Man, which was - a bit surprisingly - also received quite well.
Your friendly neighborhood bundle of pixels
|That hostage a nun? Keep her!|
X-Men came out in 2000, and despite what some critics were saying about the movie, I loved it - so did those critics once they got their thumbs out of their asses. Spider-Man came out in 2002, and it was met with unanimous praise. I went to the theatre all jacked up, and... initially hated the movie. Well, that's a heavy way to put it - I didn't really hate the movie, but I was distracted on the first viewing by an assortment of ugly spots. The heavy use of horrible CGI and the Green Goblin's still fucking ridiculous suit got all my attention. Kirsten Dunst's wet t-shirt too, but that was actually the key to get me to watch the movie again, and appreciate it as what is - a very good movie, one of the best superhero flicks there ever was. Still, especially after watching the sequels which had nothing as artificially ridiculous as the Goblin's get-up in them (except for the casting of Topher Grace as Venom), it might be the most conflicted movie of the trilogy. Great plot, great actors, spotty visuals. That's the first Spider-Man movie in a nutshell, if you ask me. Didn't know what to expect of the Game Boy Advance game - it looked so much like most 2D Spider-Man games I've ever played. I guess I was just hoping they somehow managed to scrape up all the best qualities.
|Guess where this is? Yep, the docks!|
This particular game called Spider-Man (the sixth one I've reviewed?) is one entertaining action game. Basics of gameplay are pretty much the same as in the few handheld games I've reviewed lately, but the game just plays out better, and the levels are designed very differently. Instead of straightforward runs, the levels in this game are either cubic mazes or gauntlets, each with a certain main objective to deal with. For example, in one level you need to find and break a certain amount of lethal gas containers to keep the gas from spreading - the level's quite small horizontally, but the freedom to swing in any direction reveals a quite large vertical base, which basically means these containers can be found anywhere in the level. After you're done with the objective, just mosey down to the end of the level and you're done with it altogether - no need to find an awkwardly-placed "Exit" sign like in many games. Sometimes you need to find extra items such as keys to be able to beat the level. There are a few secret items lying around, too, including photo opportunities which go on to unlock those movie stills luckily ousted from the in-game equation.
|Crawlin' through the subway.|
That's about it. I must say that Spider-Man is one of the better licensed games - especially games licensed off a movie - available for the Game Boy Advance, but I'll not boost it any further before trying out the rest. Yet, it's safe to say that thus far, it's the best handheld Spider-Man game there is. On to Spider-Man 2...
+ Not a very traditional movie license; great use of other source material
+ Objective-based levels instead of those endless runs against copy/paste backgrounds
+ Good controls...
- ...Climbing or crawling isn't always that fun, though, which is most evident in the gauntlet levels
- The boss fights are innovative, but consuming
- The audiovisuals are a bit disappointing
< 8.0 >