Spider-Man Hands-On

Activision and Neversoft are working hard to bring your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man to the N64. We spent a little time with the wallcrawler and were reasonably impressed.

Built on the foundation of the original Tony Hawk's Pro Skater engine, the PlayStation version of Neversoft's Spider-Man adventure game was an enjoyable romp through the Spidey universe that stayed remarkably true to the superhero's roots. Now Neversoft is busy with the Nintendo 64 version of the game, which, despite some missing cutscenes and CG sequences, is amazingly complete.

The game puts you in the role of Spider-Man, and you'll apply your crime-fighting skills through various levels, working your way toward an eventual showdown with one of Spidey's classic villains. As Peter Parker's alter ego, you'll have all the usual powers at your disposal: your web shooters, your amazing strength and agility, and the ability to stick to walls. You'll use these basic powers to make your way through the game's levels, and you'll get the opportunity to face several popular Spider-Man villains along the way. What's truly unique about this game is that it actually forces you to react like Spidey would - you'll spend plenty of time crawling on ceilings, working your way through ducts and shafts, swinging from building to building, and wrapping enemies in your webbing. And, despite a sometimes unforgiving camera, the game pulls all of this off very well.

The graphics in N64 version look a bit smoother and more refined than the PlayStation version's graphics. The in-game sequences all look very good, and the characters themselves animate pretty realistically. Unfortunately, the CG sequences found in the PlayStation version are absent, replaced by comic book-like frames that tell the story a panel at a time. The camera in this version is also fairly difficult to manage while indoors - it's often pointing in exactly the wrong direction. The sound department has taken a heavy hit as well. The in-game sequences still have voice work, and the enemies occasionally talk, but the comic book sequences have almost no voice acting at all. The music in the game is nice, and the sound effects are well done, but without the extra voice work, the game's audio seems a bit lacking.

The controls are in need of a little refinement, and they suffer from a serious lack of buttons. Unfortunately, playing with the analog stick isn't as responsive as playing with a D-pad, and getting used to the controls takes a good amount of time. The biggest problem with the controls was using the web shooters in conjunction with Spider-Man's various attacks - tossing a webbing ball or creating the web claws was tedious and almost not worth the hassle. Still, Spidey moves about very well, and punching and kicking enemies couldn't be easier.

With a little more tweaking, the N64 version of Spider-Man could be one of the best adventure games for the N64 this year. With the supercool premise of playing as the friendly webhead himself and the solid gameplay backing it, Spider-Man could very well be a winner.

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