NOTE: I played in 2D but turned the slider up periodically to check to see how the game looks and found no real difference at all.
For games that try to launch across nearly every single available platform on the market, there’s a few options that a developer can take when bringing a game to an underpowered handheld: they can try to compress the experience to fit the handheld (like Beenox did with the first Amazing Spider-Man), they can create a whole new game using the same ideas present in the main console game (an example being Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions on the original Nintendo DS), or the story can be lifted to fit the main game in a different play style (much like Iron Man did also on the original Nintendo DS.) When bringing The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to the Nintendo 3DS, developer High Voltage Software chose to go with option number 3, and the results are even more discouraging then the title on the PlayStation 4.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 on 3DS picks and chooses story bits from the console game and does so with such little care to narrative structure that it makes the story incomprehensible to anyone who hasn’t picked up the game on another platform. You’ll be tasked with fighting the likes of Electro and Green Goblin from the film with no reference made to either character throughout the entirety of the adventure until the game feels it needs a boss fight or to bring itself to a close. One of the worst examples is after you beat Kraven the Hunter: Spider-Man has a conversation with him about how he was working with the Kingpin, who was never mentioned once in the game before and doesn’t show up until a post-credits cut-scene. The Kingpin is a predominant figure in the story elsewhere, but here he gets a passing mention at best and then a tease for a future game.
But so what if the story is lacking, what matters is if the game is fun, right? Well, the gameplay here does not make up for patch work borrowed story I’m sad to say. As opposed to going the full 3-D route like Beenox did with the Amazing Spider-Man and Edge of Time before it, High Voltage chose to make the game a 2-D side-scroller, which I’m completely okay with. Some of the best handheld Spider-Man games: Ultimate Spider-Man, Spider-Man 3 and Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions (all on the Nintendo DS) were in this perspective and are all worth picking up for some web slinging action on the go. What I’m not okay with is boring action and cookie-cutter level design.
You can web swing and zip to walls and surfaces, and both feel fun, but the combat can be broken down to mashing the “Y” button until an enemy falls down and then web them up with “X.” Later enemies, such as heavy types and combatants with firearms, pose a challenge initially but are dispatched easily once you learn how to take them out. Every person you fight also look exactly the same, so be prepared to get familiar with grey hooded sweatshirt thug X. Beating down bad guys nets you experience that allows you upgrades like greater health and moves, but outside of one move that shot my web upwards that proved useful in taking down heavies, I couldn’t recall any of the button combinations for anything else and chose strength and health upgrades until they ran out and I had to buy new moves.
The levels themselves are about as boring as the goons in them: copied and pasted outdoor and warehouse environments repeated with little to no variation, detail or distinguishing characteristics; If presented with a screen shot of this game depicting a level from this game, I’d be hard pressed to tell you what stage it was taken from. Scattered in each of the levels are three collectibles that will allow Spider-Man to don a new costume, and even though it’s fun to switch out your regular duds for likes of the 2012 Scarlet Spider and Spider-Man 2099 costumes, you won’t be compelled to replay stages to track down that one elusive costume part. The costumes presented here provide cosmetic changes only, and do not augment Spidey’s abilities like they do in the other versions.
As monotonous as the levels and combat are, neither are as bad as the web slinging portion between levels. In order to move from stage to stage you have to complete a fixed perspective web-slinging section that’s also timed. Failure to complete the level on time forcibly starts you over from the beginning of the section and brings your forward progress to a screeching halt. Obstacles will come at you that you’ll have to dodge in order to keep your momentum and come in two varieties: vertical, which can be avoided by simply moving to the right or left, and horizontal which you’re supposed to be able to leap over with a timed press of the “B” button, but doing so on a regular basis is more of a matter of luck than skill. Similar to if you were playing this game on a TV, swinging is stunted by the need to partake in street crimes like rescuing hostages, defusing bomb and beating up more thugs. So like the game you’ll play on your system of choice, the thrill of swinging is destroyed by side-missions, the only difference being is that in every other version you’ll want to return to swinging around.
I’ve enjoyed another High Voltage Software Marvel game: Captain America: Super Soldier on the Wii, so I know from past experience that the studio can at least make a fun super hero game. Having felt rather underwhelmed by Beenox’s effort on the PS4, I can say that effort is leaps and bounds better than what’s presented here. If you want to play a Spider-Man game on the Nintendo 3DS, I can recommended much better options than what’s presented in this package.