Thursday, July 20, 2017

Now Playing: The Amazing Spider-man 2(3DS)

 Welcome to the 3DS' only original Spider-man game.
 While this is not the first Spider-man game on the 3DS, it was the only one that made it to the Spider-manathon for the simple fact that it's the only original game it got. Shattered Dimensions and Edge of Time are identical ports of the home console games and Amazing Spider-man 1 was the same game as the PS3 but without free roaming.

 But Amazing Spider-man 2 is an entirely different beast, a game that not many talked about and what little was said about it wasn't very good. But I just played a few levels and it's pretty alright. It's a 2-D sidescroller, not unlike Amazing Spider-man on the DS, but much more polished. I love that you can unlock costumes and if there's one costume per stage, man, it's gonna be a doozy. The combat is serviceable, and so is the level design.

 What isn't very good however are the swinging stages. I hope to god that there's not one per stage, because these are bad, very, very bad. The game did a poor job of explaining how it worked, and even then, it's hard to get a grasp of it. Don't like them.

Review #434: The Amazing Spider-man(Nintendo DS)

 Spider-man's final meh on the DS.
 Spider-man's last game on the DS was anything but amazing, so why Activision decided to go with the same developer, Other Ocean, is beyond me. But a second chance they got, and this time around it's not the same bugfest that Edge of Time was... but is that enough to save it from being mediocre? It's not.

 You know the drill, the game follows a truncated version of the plot from the console game, but this time around, these games work as a pseudo sequel to the movie, rather than an adaptation. Regardless, it's yet another Lizard story, someone, Alystair Smythe, wants to continue Dr. Connors' work and it goes awry, so Spider-man busts out Dr. Connors AKA the Lizard in order to help him find a cure. The presentation in the game is rather poor, I appreciate the hand-drawn stills, but they are pretty amateurish, some of the character cut-outs, for conversations, are downright ugly.
 The game is a level-based 2-D action-platform game, guess Other Ocean gave up on Metroidvanias... and on coding a map, since all you're given is a basic overview of the amount of areas and connections, but lacking any kind of detail, on the top-screen. Interestingly, all 18 missions are randomly generated, if you die, or go back to an older mission, chances are the layout will be entire different(Although the amount of areas and connections will be the same), which explains why the map may sometimes be inaccurate, like showing a connection to the next area on the top, while in the game itself the door lies at the bottom. This new mechanic also means that you'll be seeing repeated obstacles pretty often, there's one in particular that the game loves to reuse, that involves Spider-man climbing up, with walls on the left and right, and you must web-zip left-and-right to avoid alternating obstacles, which usually end with a platform on the right wall. Interesting idea on paper, but poor execution in practice. At the end of the day, stages are unmemorable, and you'll most likely remember stuff you had to do more than once due to repetition and not fun.

  Spider-man can punch, jump and throw web against only the medium-sized enemies. Jumping, swinging and crawling on walls are to be expected, so he can do those too. There's a new 'special' meter that allows you to use special moves, but these make Spider-man glide through the floor if you hold left and right(Which you kinda need to do when initiating them), so it's a bit hard to land them, but fret not, normal attacks work well enough. Sometimes the game will have you fighting foes in order to find keycards to open the next door, which is alright, but the combat system is relatively weak, you just repeat your A button attacks, sometimes ending with Up+A to knock-up medium sized enemies and hit them some more on the air. There're very few enemy types, and there's not a lot whole you can do to them, since only medium sized enemies are affected by knock-ups or webbing, which is kinda lame.
 While stages are simple to get through, make sure you explore a little, since each stage has at least one permanent power up, either more health, damage or new special moves. Some stages will also have you play under a time limit, but it's still pretty easy to go through, even if there're many 'find the keycard' segments throughout.

 The Amazing Spider-man is what Edge of Time could've been had it not been plagued by a glitches: A mediocre, lame game that doesn't do anything particularly bad, but there's nothing noteworthy about it, and has so little nuance to itself that ends up being boring. Honestly, you could do so much worse on the console, but there's also been better... and that's where Spider-mans final game on the DS lies, in the middle. It's far from being the worst... but it's also far from being the best.
 4.5 out of 10

Now Playing: The Amazing Spider-man(Playstation 3)

 Well, they tried!
 I'm sure that at the time Beenox was bombardd with criticism for removing free-roaming, so they complied and we got... The Amazing Spider-man. It seems to harken back to how Spider-man 2(PS2) played, but with a Batman Arkham flair. Which is only fair considering how Batman Arkham series stole the Spider-vision.

 As far as combat goes, it's fun. I mean, it IS aping the Arkham series, so it's gotta be, but I kinda miss how crunchy hits used to feel in Web of Shadows. As for the swinging... it's too slow. I tried getting up the third chapter to see if it would improve, since that happened with Web of Shadows, I was hating how slow it was, until I upgraded it and it turned into a dream. Web-zipping is gone, which kinda sucks, and the new Web-Rush mechanics is useful in-doors but it's no web-zip outdoors.

 Basically, it's what I feared would've happened if Beenox decided to start with a free roaming Spider-man game instead of a beat'em up. It's good, it really is, but it pales in comparison to Web of Shadows and Ultimate. At least it doesn't force you to do side activities in order to progress with the story, which is a huge step up from most open-world Spider-man games.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Review #433: Spider-man - Edge of Time(Playstation 3)

 And then there were two, but on a home console.
 Spider-man - Shattered Dimensions was a pretty good action/beat'em up that while not expanding on what made Spider-man games good, set out to be a different game that what we were used to. And it worked. So it only made sense to expand upon it, right? So why did we get less?

 Val Kilmer, or his character, goes back into the past to change it and make things even cozier for him in his present, the year 2099. He changes everything, now Peter Parker works for him in Alchemax Industries as well! But all is not lost, Miguel O'Hara, Spider-man 2099 is on to him, and he manages to set a link with Peter Parker. Now both Spider-men team up to save the past and the future. It's easily the best story in a Spider-man game yet, Spider-man being voiced by Spectacular Spider-man's voice actor and Spider-man 2099 by Spider-man: The Animated Series' voice actor, and they do a spectacular job of bringing both characters to life. And even while it's their interaction that drives the game, the plot itself is pretty darn interesting!
 The game takes place throughout 16 short-ish chapters, alternating between Peter and Miguel. Both Spider-men have the same basic actions: Square is a weak attack, Triangle a strong attack, Circle shoots web, R1 grabs the enemy(Spider-man throws a web against it, while Spider-man 2099 sends a clone to kick the enemy towards the real Miguel), both can crawl on walls and ceilings and both can swing from their webs. Don't get too excited, the entire game takes place inside Alchemax, a present and a future iteration of said building, so there's no free roam. And while the premise is about changing the past to affect the future, it plays out in a very linear fashion, for instance, Miguel might be struggling against robots, so as Spider-man you'll have, then and there, to destroy the blueprints. It's an interesting plot device, but it's just a plot device and not a game mechanic.

 Plenty has changed since the last game. Dodging works quite differently, and even between both characters. Both Spider-men have a Stamina gauge that's used for dodging, by pressing L2 Spider-man enters a dodging state that lasts for as long as you have stamina and he'll automatically dodge anything that comes his way. Meanwhile, Spider-man 2099 creates a clone that diverts enemy attention towards it, and, you guessed it, the clone lasts for as long as you've stamina left. Personally, I preferred how dodging worked in the previous game. It's not bad by any means, but it feels a bit... lame and kinda restrictive, if you ask me.
 There're new attacks, but a lot of attacks from the previous game are missing. Strong attacks can only be strung up to two times, so we miss out on the four triangle string and the four-attack strings that started with triangle. There're new Special moves that consume stamina, which were an OK idea, I guess? Look, it's bad enough that we lost two Spider-men and their unique movesets, so why take away even more moves? It's a weird decision. What we did gain was a ton of different unlockable costumes for each character, so props for that! But as much Spider-variety as we got, the Alchemax building, both present and future iterations, are kinda dull, and there's not much variety inside either. Contrast that with the huge amount of different stages and settings from the previous game!

 The Web of Challenges, the things behind which unlockable costumes are hidden, works a bit different than before. Each stage has between 4 and 6 challenges, but they are more involved than simply 'defeat X amount of enemies', most of them consisting in races or racking up a certain amount of combo hits. The problem is that challenges are now relegated to specific areas, so if you lose... you have to restart the challenge. I thought it was a bit lamer, but at least now you can retry challenges at any time, so there's that.
 Edge of Time is a disappointing follow-up to what was a very promising take on Spider-man. It's by no means bad, but it falls short of the bar set by its predecessor. I love how good the story and the writing is, but at the end of the day this is a videogame and that comes second to gameplay, which is something that Shattered Dimensions did better. You had more variety with the four different Spider-men, you had more attacks and moves and even more variety when it came to stages. And that's its worst sin: Coming after Shattered Dimensions.
 6.0 out of 10

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Now Playing: The Amazing Spider-man(Nintendo DS)

 Not Other Ocean again, not them, please!
 For Spider-man's last outing on the Nintendo DS we have Other Ocean at the helm... oh boy. I'm six missions in, and shockingly, while it looks just like Edge of Time, it's only skin deep as I've yet to find a single glitch. Spider-man can crawl through platforms quite well, walls seem solid and he doesn't slide while shooting web. It seems they gave up on coding maps, so now we a simplified 'Look how many areas and exits there're' thingie as a map.

 They did away with the Metroidvania approach and now we have a straight-up action game with a non-linear mission structure, that allows you to take a few missions in whatever order you wish or replay them. It plays rather serviceably, you know, kinda like what Edge of Time could've been if only it wasn't broken.

 It's not the developer I wanted for Spider-man's final DS game, but so far it has proven to be a passable game, which considering how bad the previous game was... it's a good thing. It's kinda sad how the DS never managed to get a great Spider-man game, eh! I mean, Griptonite's two games were pretty good but nothing to write home about, and this last game seems to be Spider-man's final 'Meh' on the console.

Review #432: Spider-man - Edge of Time(Nintendo DS)

 And then there were two...
 After Griptonite had managed to make the best Spider-man games on the DS Activision took the only course of action that made sense: Get rid of them and get a new team to make the DS version of Edge of Time. It proved to be a fatal mistake, while Other Ocean tried making another Metroidvania what they actually made was the glitchiest, buggiest game I've ever played.

 The story is very poorly told, but featuring a sometimes great, sometimes poor hand-drawn panels and it has to do with Spider-man 2099 contacting Amazing Spider-man in order to stop Sloane, a a guy from 2099 who aims to control the world by going back into the past and starting the Alchemax company way back then. You'll oftentimes have no idea of what's going on, but that's alright, there're even plot-holes aplenty, like the fact that opening a door back in Amazing Spider-man's timeline will leave it open over a thousand years later in 2099, or how doing stuff in the future affects the past. I don't even.
 Sadly, the story is the least of the game's problems. Let's just say that every single time I turned on the game I came across a new glitch or bug. These are just a few of the glitches I came around:

 - Spidey would sometimes go through walls.
 - A few times this through me out of bounds so I had to restart the game.

 - Climbing platforms can be quite an ordeal, since sometimes Spider-man will fall when switching angles. It seems like climbing slowly helps, but it's not a sure-fire solution.

 - If you hold left or right when shooting web, which you'll very likely do at least once when aiming your shots, will have Spider-man sliding around the floor. A few special attacks behave the same way.

 - If you move too fast the camera will lose track of Spider-man, so you'll have to wait a few seconds for it to catch up to him.

- The Map for certain areas is glitched so that it can't track Spider-man's position, basically, according to the mini-map Spider-man will be going out of bounds or being inside platforms. This is a very common occurrence.

- There's this blue barrier that you must cross as Spider-man 2099, but I never found how to deactivate it... not that I needed to, since I just went right through it. Maybe I sequence-broke it, I dunno.

 - The mini-map will sometimes freeze when showing you your next objective, the only way to fix it was by resetting the game.

 - During a boss I pressed select, which made me switch to Spider-man 2099, so I pressed select again to go back to the boss and... the game froze.

 And most of these bugs weren't a one-time thing either!
 As for the game itself, it's a very simple affair. Both Spider-men control the same and you can switch at any time by pressing Select. Each character gets his own version of the map to explore, although you gain the ability to swap time-lines near the end of the game, and you'll need to, since each Spider-man has three different obstacle clearing 'abilities' . Before you get excited, this aren't usable or stylish or fun to use, Spider-man gets three different colored webs, each breaks a different type of object, while Spider-man 2099 gets the ability to break purple blocks or go through two different types of barriers. Lame. And, for whatever reason, you can only have one ability equipped at a time, instead of them being on at all times... and why aren't they? The different colored webs don't change how web behaves, and Spider-man 2099's abilities don't change a thing for him either, so... why? Why make it so inconvenient? And you can't switch abilities while crawling on walls or ceiling for whatever reason. They are poorly explained too, when you get the Yellow web you're told that 'Spider-man can now break heavy objects'... why not just tell me that I can break yellow barriers? It's not like obstacles have unique looks to them or whatever. As a matter of fact, I got stumped over 30 minutes near the end of the game because I didn't know that I was supposed to use my new web, which was used to break metal doors, to destroy a crate. A crate that looked exactly like another create I could smash with Spidey's knuckles before. Fun.

 Metroidvanias are all about exploration and... it kinda gets it wrong too. The game will always remind you of your next objective on the top-screen, but every time you enter a new room, the mini-map screen will pan towards your objective for a few seconds before returning to where you're supposed to be. This can be extremely disorienting. But what's truly beautiful is that you can't enlarge the full map, so getting your bearing can be kinda tough. It doesn't help that everything looks so unremarkable and unmemorable, areas just aren't fun to explore. Combat is lame as well, you can unlock a few extra attacks by finding them, but there's little reason to experiment, the game is a button masher through and through, and not a very fun one. After the fantastic combo systems in the previous two games it's hard to come to this shallow affair.
 If there's one thing I can praise is that both Spider-men get three costumes each, something not typically seen in sprite-based games. Besides their default looks, you can find an extra suit by gathering all five parts for each(For a total of 10 pick-ups) and a third costume by finishing the game. Also, the sprite work, while simple, is relatively pretty. I won't lie, at times I actually had fun with the game, but that's because I really like the genre.

 It's so hard to review Edge of Time, because as much of a mess as it is... It's not the worst Spider-man game out there. Because for as many glitches and bugs the game has... none vexed me or annoyed me. It's a terrible game on a technical level, but as far as substance goes it fares slightly better. Mind you, it's still a terrible game, and if I didn't take into account the bugs and glitches it would still only amount to a flimsy 3.0 out of 10. Regardless, Edge of Time on the DS is better left forgotten.
 2.0 out of 10

Monday, July 17, 2017

Now Playing: Spider-man - Edge of Time(DS & PS3)

 Holy Glitchfests, Batman!
 Edge of Time is the final Spider-man game before we dive back into movie-tie in territory, so let's see what Beenox cooked up this time, shall we? Except that let's talk about the mess that is Edge of Time on the DS. First, the good things: The sprites are kinda neat, they look cheap, but in motion they look pretty. And it seems like it will be the first 2-D Spider-man to feature costumes, that's bound to be cool.

 And then you play for 11 minutes and come across three different kinds of bugs. And you play 10 more minutes and come across even more. Where to start? If you move too fast the camera loses sight of Spider-man until it catches up, the map of certain sections is all screwed up, with Spider-man, apparently, going out of bounds. Sometimes Spider-man will glitch when climbing platforms, dropping down. I went through walls once. Spider-man slides when shooting web, so let go of that directional input!... Yes, this game is broken. Oh, and the combat sucks when compared to the previous two games. And while the mechanics make sense, the logic doesn't: Opening a door a thousand years in the past will open it in the 2099 universe. How does that work? And as much as I liked the sprites, the 3-D objects suck, like when using the web to break down barriers, the barrier kinda disappears? It looks very odd. It's not a good game, not at all, but I'd lie if I said it was devoid of any fun.
 Goodbye Noir and Ultimate, at least we got your voice actors! Josh Keaton returns as Amazing Spider-man and Christopher Barnes as 2099, and they fit these characters oh so well. The combat seems pretty similar to before, which is a good thing, and hopefully it has more room for creativity. And I'm loving the fact that there's a gazillion costumes in here.

 My favorite part in Shattered Dimensions was at the end, when all four Spider-men interacted with each other, well, now we've both Spideys interacting from the get-go, that's pretty cool. What little I've played so far is, well, pretty cool, in contrast to the awful DS follow-up. Apparently this game scored lower than Shattered DImensions, so we'll see what it holds for me.