It's pretty inevitable that when a new games system launches, at least one of the new titles won't really take advantage of the full capabilities of the new system. That's not talking of games that really stretch the visual or control possibilities of the new platform, but more of titles that look, play and feel as though they belong to the previous console generation. That's a description that aptly fits Spider-Man 2 DS, a side-scrolling action/platform title that's unbelievably mundane to begin with, and so poorly implemented on the DS hardware that it should practically carry a warning sticker on it. If you wanted a title to convince someone not to buy a DS, this is pretty much it.
Spider-Man 2 follows the plot of the second movie in a very loose fashion. You're still basically facing Doc Ock, and your final confrontation is set well within the confines of the movie, but largely what Spider-Man 2 DS boils down to is a series of platform levels with a collection/destruction motif, generally against a clock and in some fairly labyrinthine levels that suffer badly from lots of repetition. There's a small incentive to go back and repeat levels to beat specific times or find everything that's available, but given the generally turgid nature of the game's action, it seems unlikely that too many gamers will really bother.
Spider-Man 2's main crime is, as mentioned, that it doesn't advance the style of game play that Activision and Vicarious Visions has put forth in its previous GBA Spider-Man titles. You play as the eponymous web-swinger, and, to be fair, your range of powers and abilities is extremely well represented. You can cling to walls, swing from vines and web up your foes with reckless abandon, as well as just engaging in the simpler pursuit of thumping them around the chops until they fall over. Spider-Man 2 DS does make a good job of upgrading what is essentially the same visual set used on the last couple of GBA Spider-Man games, with a touch more animation on Peter Parker himself, and backgrounds that have a psuedo-3D effect to them, rather like Capcom's excellent Viewtiful Joe series. It does itself few favors however, with collision detection that'll often leave you stunned by enemies that you should have easily thwacked.
Where Spider-Man 2 DS falls over badly is in two areas. Firstly, it makes little real use of the DS's second screen aside from allowing you to select different Spider-powers - something that could have much more easily been achieved via a pause screen menu - and some very simple and dull mini-games that pop up during some boss fights and levels. Compared to some of the really clever things that Nintendo's managed to do in,
say, Super Mario DS or Wario Ware Touched, it's a huge step down to be dragging icons through electrified mazes or tapping onscreen to deflect projectiles hurled at you by Doc Ock.
When Nintendo first revealed details of the DS, one of the applications they touted for the bottom screen was for an interactive map, and it's practically criminal that Vicarious Visions didn't pick up on this little clue when designing Spider-Man DS. As many of the game's levels see you racing against the clock to defuse bombs, defeat bad guys and reach predetermined objectives, you'll far too often find yourself backtracking for that one last robot, bomb or hostage with only seconds left to spare. The end effect isn't one of tense challenge - it's just one of intense frustration that leaves you wondering why you'd bother trying again.
Compounding Spider-Man 2 DS's woes is the fact that it's not all that long a game. Yes, it'll take you a while to make your way through the more torturous maze-like levels, but there's only fourteen stages - including some very simple pattern-based boss fights - and it's only the carrot of beating times and meeting secondary objectives to unlock powers that you probably won't care about anyway that could potentially keep you coming back.
If you're of the mind that you absolutely must own every DS game, we'd suggest you get a more productive hobby. That aside, there are very few reasons to pick up Spider-Man DS, even if you're a complete arachnophile. Spider-Man's been done much better - even on the lesser GBA hardware - than in this obviously rushed and not terribly inspired game.
Last updated: Jan 30, 2019 at 10:26 pm CST
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