Tuesday, July 18, 2017

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

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