During our hands-on preview of the PC version back in October, we noted that Alien Spidy was quite good even in its unfinished form. Its bright graphical style stood out and the initially odd control setup eliminating the d-pad for movement took some getting used to, but made for a better-controlling experience. While much of our praise from the preview remains, the final version has some issues we didn’t notice in our preview build that hamper the experience and make it less fun than it otherwise would be.
The biggest problem in Alien Spidy is somewhat unresponsive jumping. You’ll hit A perfectly and won’t jump in the air — as a result, you’ll sometimes go flying down a thorny hill instead of jumping on a mushroom springboard to reach a new area. The respawn system is also problematic as it can put you right next to an area where death can come quite easily. One such section involves you being brought back to life while rocks roll down a hill you’re revived on, resulting in either being hit instantly or having very little time to react and jump over them, while hoping that the jump mechanic actually works the way it should.
Another cause for concern comes in the form of web shooting. While the X button’s quick shot works well in most situations, there are times when you’ll want to use the more precise right stick controls to shoot exactly where you want since precisely hitting something like a spinning flower at the right angle and with the right momentum behind you can send you where you need to go very quickly. However, the right stick controls cause problems by not quite shooting the web where you theoretically want it to go with the right stick. You’ll intend to aim for a top right shot only to have it shoot either up or to the right – neither being what you want, and in tricky spots, this is another instant death and another source of needless frustration.
Fortunately, the graphics are a major highlight and help make the game fun to play even during its most annoying moments. They’re as bright as they were before and have a lot of character due to that and the incredibly odd, but gorgeous color choices made. The console versions look the same as the PC version, and it’s tough to notice any difference in clarity between the two which is definitely a good thing. Unfortunately, while the soundtrack’s cheery nature worked in a short preview version, in the full game, it gets old quickly. There isn’t much variety to the tracks, and none of the songs are good enough to warrant listening to outside of the game. Fortunately, listening to a custom soundtrack is easy enough and you can mute the in-game music but keep the sound effects in the options menu to help avoid this problem.
Alien Spidy is far from a bad game and can be quite addictive when the jumping mechanic actually works the way it should. Between that and some web-slinging issues, however, the game can easily become more frustrating than fun. Fortunately, sticking with it rewards you with some incredible-looking graphics that hold up nicely compared to the PC version, and feature one of the most diverse color palettes in recent memory. The soundtrack gets old, but it’s nothing some simple menu-surfing can’t solve. If you like challenging platformers with some minor puzzle elements thrown in, you’ll probably love Alien Spidy. The control issues make it hard to recommend at full price, but it’s an easy recommendation to try out when it goes on sale at some point in the future.
Version Reviewed: Xbox 360
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