It shouldn't come as any surprise that a game based on the upcoming Spider-Man movie is coming to the Game Boy Advance. What does come as a pleasant surprise, however, is the fact that the game seems to be shaping up quite nicely. Developed by Digital Eclipse, the game seems to successfully re-create all the cool things that have made modern Spider-Man games fun in the context of a classic side-scroller game design. A bunch of neat aesthetic touches further bring the world, the characters, and their actions to life, making the game undeniably feel like a genuine part of the modern Spider-Man canon.
Spider-Man: The Movie on the GBA doesn't follow the movie as closely as the home console versions. And since said movie hasn't been released in theatres, we won't talk too much about the game's story. Suffice it to say that you'll fight a whole bunch of Spider-Man's famous foes (including Vulture, Shocker, Kraven, Scorpion, and the Green Goblin, among others) and visit lots of settings that you've come to associate with the arachknight. It all boils down to an action game in the most classic sense, with large sprawling levels, linear level progression, and battles galore.
You'll be happy to hear that Spider-Man is as mobile as he can be, given the lack of a third dimension. All the cool abilities that appear in the recent console versions are represented in this one, and they're represented quite faithfully. Of foremost import, of course, is webswinging, which is totally covered in this GBA version. You simply have to press the jump button again when you're in the air, and Spidey will shoot out a web line and enjoy a nice, wide swing. What's cool about this is that the timing has been very nicely tuned, and you're able to gain and lose altitude nicely as a result. You can also use the neat zip line ability introduced in the original game--in eight directions, no less. You execute it by hitting the R button and pointing in the direction you want to "zip." It's not as quick as the one in the console versions, but it gets the job done more than effectively. Wallcrawling is just as easy as you've probably imagined--you simply jump close enough to a surface and you'll instantly stick to it. Getting down is a little trickier than it should be, but if you press the jump button enough, chances are you'll be able to. And if you attempt to drop from the ceiling, something especially neat happens: Spider-Man will lower himself by means of his web, in that famous flealike position he sometimes assumes in the comics. The rate of descent is slower than a straight-up jump would be, so sometimes it's not a good idea. But it looks cool, so it's fine.
Fighting is a relatively simple matter. You press the B button to execute punch-kick combos, one of which is three-pronged. You can also attack people with your webs, though with a variety of different effects. The standard attack is the impact webbing made more famous than it should have been by the original game, which apparently bludgeons enemies on impact. Additionally, power-ups that change the properties of your webbing are scattered throughout the environments, and some of them are pretty out of hand. The more subdued ones include "trap" webbing, which gums up and paralyzes your enemies, while the crazier ones include things like "web grenades," which explode upon contact with an enemy. There are quite a few different power-ups, and the good thing is that they don't disappear, at this point in the game's development, so if you ever unwittingly change your webbing's property, you'll know where you can go to switch it back. You'll find a few non-web power-ups as well. These include stuff like "arachnid's strength," which makes your physical attacks cause increased damage, and "invincibility," which, as you've probably deduced, grants you a few moments of invincibility.
Anyway, if you're a fan of 2D game art, then you'll love Spider-Man. The animation is simply brilliant, and there are enough little details to gush about for 20 pages. The explosive attack routines are wonderfully emphasized, as are the exaggerated run and wallcrawling cycles. Even Spidey's still poses are amazingly endearing, and they're quite faithful to the way the character's design has evolved over the years. And when you punch things, comic-style "thwacks," "bams," and "pows" are drawn over them, corresponding to the angle at which you hit them. It all comes together incredibly well, and the game is simply a marvel to look at.
In any event, we'll have more on this one for you as soon as it's released, which should be any day now. Keep your eyes on this space till then.