Reviewed: October 30, 2010
Released: September 7, 2010
Spider-Man has a had a pretty good video game history, compared to the average comic-book hero. For the most part he has had consistently fun games, with a few highs and a few lows strewn throughout his gamograpy. I am happy to say that Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions on the DS actually stands out as one of the higher games on the Spider-Man videogame scale.|
Much like his older console brothers, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions follows the exploits of the man with the powers of a spider across a dimension hopping story that ultimately amounts to nothing more than, I have to defeat this bad guy, along with a few others. The story is not the strong point of this experience, and in defense of the game, story has never been Spider-Manís strong point. Character is the true driving force of the Spider-Man universe, but that is a discussion for another day, and preferably one with no fans of Spider-Man around.
The game puts the player in the shoes of three different Spider-Men as they work together to reunite the broken pieces of a magical artifact. There is the Amazing Spider-Man of the present, the Noir Spider-Man of the past and the future Spider-Man of the year 2099. Each Spider-Man has a different set of powers that make level traversal different for each character. The Amazing Spider-Man can web-swing and wall-crawl, the Noir Spider-Man can web-swing and has better Spider-Sense abilites and the Spider-Man of the year 2099 can wall-crawl, and glide around with some nifty flying squirrel wings.
Other than the core powers mentioned above, which relate directly to level exploration, everything else is the same. Combat moves are unlocked for all three Spider-Men simultaneously, and general movement and jumping feels the same for all three Spider-dudes. The general movement, and combat are actually some of the highlights of the title so it is a good thing they feel so similar. No matter what Spider-Man you are playing as, the character moves well, and it feels great to beat up on bad guys. Itís fast, fluid and most importantly fun.
The level traversal has, rather surprisingly, a Metroid sort of feel. As you progress you will build a map on the lower screen, and you will encounter impassable obstacles that require some sort of new power. Powers are distributed throughout the level, along with health and combat bonuses. You really do feel like Spider-Samus as you find the next move or ability to unlock that new door.
Itís not all Peter Parker perfect though. There are a few problems. Having to switch between Spider-Man can be interesting, it can also be a bit jarring. being required to switch to a new Spider-Guy just as you are getting the hang of the previous can be a bit annoying. The writing is mostly bad, but forgivable considering it is a game made for kids. There are a few chuckle worthy lines here and there, but for the most part, the writing is just passable. The voice acting meets about the same standard. Mostly bad, sometimes, good, but forgivable for the younger folks.
The biggest problem with the game though, and the reason the Shattered Dimensions cartridge might get prematurely ejected from your DS, are the boss battles. The bosses are tough, like way tougher than they should be. I am all for challenging boss battles, but when I havenít taken a single punch, or shot from any random enemy throughout the entire game, and the third boss hasnít even lost a quarter of this health after the seventh try, then we need to talk about some balancing issues.
The bosses are not fun, and what can often be a well designed reward for finishing a level, ends up becoming a dreaded occurrence that must be completed in order to get back to the fun part. While weíre on the topic of dreaded occurrences, there is also the presence of entirely unnecessary touch screen minigames that are required to progress. Thanks, but I can do without ever having to touch that stylus.
Those last few quibbles are annoying distractions from an otherwise great experience. Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is a fun, but somewhat flawed game. The Metroid inspiration, and the actual gameplay are what make the game great, and those are the two parts of the game that players will be spending the most time with. If you are a fan of Spider-Man, or just looking for a fun 2D action title on the DS, then Spider-Man Shattered Dimensions deserves a recommendation.