Gameplay, Story and Value:
As soon as you reach the title screen you’re immediately drawn into the world of Spiderman by way of a great bit of artwork accompanied by the classic theme song. It only gets better once you actually start the game and are treated to narration by the legendary Stan Lee. As a fan of Spiderman and comic books in general, this was a fantastic way to start a game, as even though things were far from perfect mechanically, that extra effort in presentation went an incredibly long way.
The story is ripped right out of a comic book, and in true Spiderman fashion manages to squeeze in all kinds of cameos and references to other Marvel franchises. It’s a fun ride, and good voice acting and varied level design manage to keep things interesting. The biggest problem with this game is effectively a combination of design decisions and control styles that were common for the era. In other words, this game has not aged well.
Difficulty is compounded due to clunky and inconsistent controls, as well as a camera that’s out for blood. Enemies hit significantly harder than you do and frequently break through your combos, and the sluggish controls make actually evading damage challenging, if not impossible. It’s unfortunate, too, because playing through the different levels is a lot of fun! Web slinging works fairly well, and there’s a lot of creative design decisions along the way.
Presentation, Music and Sound:
Spiderman is a mixed bag, visually. From a distance everything actually looks really good, thanks to the bold comic book colors and creative means of hiding its limited view distance. Zoom in closer, however, and things start to fall apart a bit, well, a lot. Any face not hidden behind a mask is jarring to look at, textures are muddy, and it really shows its age. It’s not all bad, though, as the environments are all distinct and fitting, and you’ll often find yourself too focused on the action to care too much about how things look.
Music is all put to good use, though I definitely won’t be humming any of the tunes any time soon, aside from the now stuck in my head theme song of course. The voice acting is all really good, making the between-level cutscenes a lot of fun to watch and listen to. Really, the whole game felt like one big episode of the 90’s animated series, which is think is the highest possible praise I could give it.
Spiderman’s a pretty great, if not flawed, game that proves there were some decent super hero video games long before Batman revisited Arkham Asylum. No, it hasn’t held up very well over time but at the very least it’s got me a lot more interested in playing subsequent games in the series, such as Spiderman 2 on the PS2.