Saturday, July 4, 2015

Level Up: Spider-man Shattered Dimensions (Nintendo DS)

With the summer months now here, I’m reminded that my August theme month is fast approaching. One of the previous ones that I keep thinking about doing again is Spider-month, just because I think Spider-man lends himself to be a good video game character. While I don’t have plans to revisit that theme yet, I would like to talk about a handheld version of a game I reviewed during Spider-month. Here’s Spider-man Shattered Dimensions for the Nintendo DS.
As you would expect, the plot of the Nintendo DS version isn’t much different from the consols. For those of you who didn’t listen to that review, the coles notes version of it all is that Mysterio tries to steal the Tablet of Order and Chaos, but it breaks as Spider-man tries to stop him. This shatters the barrier between the dimensions, and the Spider-man of each universe needs to find the pieces of the tablet that fell in their dimensions before it falls into the hands of villains.
There are of course differences between the two versions. The most noticeable one is that there is now only 3 dimensions instead of 4, with the absence of the Ultimate Universe (appropriate seeing as Marvel’s Secret Wars will also do away with it). Another change is that each version of Spider-man only faces off against 2 villains instead of 3, all different than in the console versions. You also don’t chase the villains around like you did, you just kind of stumble upon them before fighting. I do miss the sense of urgency that it added, but once we get to the game play, it’ll make more sense to why that is.
The reason that you don’t chase the villains around in this version of the game is because it’s actually a 2D Metroid-vania game style. Now, I was a big fan of the original Shattered Dimension, but making it a Metroid-vania game might be the only way to make me like it even more. As a matter of fact, I might even say the reverse: the only way for me to like a Metroid-vania game more might be to add Spider-man. The way he moves is so fast and agile that making him explore everything sounds perfect. There are even some game mechanics that come in later on related to gathering up momentum.
Buuuuuut, he might be a little TOO fast. Movement in this game can happen rather quickly, and I feel like sometimes the controls don’t really keep up with Spidey as well as they should. Jumping can feel a little delayed and fighting might come down to either being cheap or doing things you didn’t quite intend to (at least at the start). There’s also the problem of suddenly zipping out of battle or unintentionally sticking to a wall. It’s easy to get used to, but you do get this impression of the game rather quickly also. As a matter of fact, once you get the hang of it, you might be able to pull off some really cool combos. It’s easy to overlook, but I feel it’s worth mentioning.
Even if it was hard to get passed, I think this game would still be worth it for the exploration. While the map for this game is relatively small, it feels like there is absolutely no wasted space in this game. Each square is tightly packed with either enemies to fight you, a puzzle to continue, secret items to find or is an important story room. It kicks the pace of the game up, so that even when you decide that you’re gonna go off and find some secrets, it doesn’t feel like you’re wasting time or going far out of your way.
The Spider-man: Shattered Dimensions game for the DS is a pleasant surprise for me as a fan of the console game. While I wasn’t expecting something as deep or engaging, I still found it just as enjoyable. That being said, it’s a handheld game and has MANY short comings that are common to find with hand held versions. I already mentioned that the map is small and the pace is quick, and while not necessarily bad, the game can be done in just about 2 hours. They try to balance it out with bonus modes and challenge arenas and stuff like that, but that feels like padding. It makes it a good game to pick and play through every now and then though. Other than that, the controls could use a little tightening, but that’s the only really bad thing. I wish the Developer Griptonite Games could have worked with Activision again to make an Edge of Time game the same way, because it might have brought this game more attention, and stood out as less of a risk. With a number of voice actors also working in this version (including Christopher Daniel Barnes, Dan Gilvezan and Josh Keaton as the Spider-mans, Jim Cummings, Steven Blum and Jennifer Hale) and graphics as well done as the mapping, this is an underrated game I highly suggest for and DS owner. I give Spider-man Shattered Dimensions for the Nintendo DS 9 levels out of 10.

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