Spider-Man 3 Review

Spider-Man 3 isn't anything special, but it's a solid 2D action game that lets you cut loose with Spidey's abilities.

Spider-Man 3 for the Game Boy Advance is a 2D action game loosely based on the movie of the same name. The game doesn't set new standards regarding design or presentation, but that probably won't matter much to fans who mainly want to cut loose with Spidey's abilities. To that end, there are plenty of comic book fisticuffs and webslinging to be found in the GBA version of Spider-Man 3, some of which involve the mysterious black costume that featured so prominently in the movie.

Spidey has roughly two dozen different attacks and web abilities.
Spidey has roughly two dozen different attacks and web abilities.

Every level is set up so that players can make use of all of Spider-Man's abilities. There are wide-open spaces for webswinging, walls and ceilings that you can latch onto and crawl up, secret ducts and tunnels to explore, and, of course, plenty of bad guys to pummel. Mission objectives vary. Some involve searching for keys or disabling bombs. Others involve activating sprinklers and rescuing people. Periodically, you'll face off against super villains in a showdown that usually entails dodging their attacks and then beating them senseless when you see an opening. The Sandman and Venom plotlines from the movie are the main threads that keep the story going, but the game also expands on the movie's story by incorporating characters from the comic books, like Electro and Kingpin. From beginning to end, it'll take you roughly a couple of hours to get through the 16 missions that make up the story. The order of missions changes depending on a decision you make early in the game, which also affects which bonus abilities you earn. To unlock all of Spidey's bonus abilities, you'll need to play through the game twice.

Like in many action games, you'll spend most of your time beating up the same generic enemies and getting past similar puzzles level after level. The different mission objectives shake things up nicely. It also helps that Spidey has a good variety of abilities that continually builds as you go through the game. Right from the start, you can jump, webswing, perform a few kung fu attacks, and shoot webs that let you stun or reel in enemies. You can also shoot webbing at fixtures like sprinklers or fans to temporarily shut them off. Each time you beat a boss, you'll earn an extra point for Spidey's health meter and add two or three new abilities to his repertoire. After one particular encounter, you'll find that you can transform into the black Spider-Man costume by beating up goons until your rage meter is full. In the black costume, Spider-Man moves faster, his attacks are stronger, and he can smash through some walls that regular red Spidey can't. You'll revert to the red suit if you take any damage, but getting the black costume back is a simple matter of waiting for thugs to respawn and then punching their lights out. While that isn't how the black suit worked in the movie or the comics, the implementation in the game seems acceptable considering how powerful Spidey is with the black costume on.

I have a red Spider-Man and I want to paint him black.
I have a red Spider-Man and I want to paint him black.

You won't be blown away by any aspect of the game's presentation, but the graphics and audio generally get the job done in positive fashion. Spidey has a vast number of wacky, comic-inspired attacks, and both he and his enemies are fluidly animated. The same backgrounds are recycled frequently, although you won't have much chance to get bored with them since you'll be too busy beating up goons, swinging through the air, and smashing furniture to care. Music and sound effects consist of dramatic themes and an assortment of punches and groans that fit the action, even if they're not specifically taken from the Spider-Man 3 movie. Between levels, the story is told through still scenes put together with custom comic book artwork and text dialogue.

There are certainly better action games available for the Game Boy Advance. However, none of those, apart from the earlier Spider-Man games, let you swing through the air and sling webs like Spider-Man. And this one lets you do so in the legendary black costume. For that reason, fans of the character and anyone who enjoyed the movie will likely be satisfied with the GBA version of Spider-Man 3.

The Good

  • Spidey has a wealth of attacks and web abilities
  • Branching story paths give you reason to play through more than once
  • The black costume is everything you hoped it would be

The Bad

  • Combat and puzzles are really straightforward
  • Graphics and audio aren't as lavish as you'd expect from a big movie tie-in

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