A trend that has surfaced in gaming last generation and spilling into this one is companies either remaking, or remastering games. Chances are if you picked up a PS4 last fall it may have came with a remaster of the critically acclaimed PS3 title The Last of Us, or maybe you picked up an updated version of GTAV on a boxing day sale. We’re only two months into 2015 and we’ve already seen two high-profile remasters released: Resident Evil, a remaster of the 2002 GameCube remake of the 1996 game (that’s a mouthful…), and Grim Fandango, a long overdue remaster of the hard to find/play PC classic. That’s not to mention the countless remakes, rereleases and compilations from last-gen: God of War, Ratchet & Clank, Halo, Sly Cooper, TMNT: Turtles in Time: Re-Shelled, and I could go on and on forever. The point is, as seems to be in nearly all types of media today, that everything that was once old is new again.
One franchise that could really use this treatment is Activision’s long running Spider-Man series of video games. The publisher who brought us such classics as Spider-Man 2, Ultimate Spider-Man and Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions has really let the quality of their games diminish, case in point, last year’s horrendous The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which many of you may forget came out, and with good reason: TASM2 is truly one of the worst Spider-Man games to come along in years and kills any good will that Activision once had with the character.
The best candidate for the remake material, more so than 2004’s Spider-Man 2, would be the Neversoft classic from 2000 simply titled Spider-Man. This game was one of the earliest examples of a comic book/license game done right with plenty of bonuses to hunt down, a great story that cleverly used the wall-crawler’s rogues gallery as well as a fantastic soundtrack courtesy of Tommy Tallarico. As good as the game is however, it does suffer from some issues that are very much from that era of game, which is yet another reason why remaking it would be a good idea.
Combat has come a long way from the punch-punch-punch or kick-kick-kick attacks featured in this game and could use an overhaul that would make fighting bad guys feel like less of a chore. The fog in the game, a symptom in the plot of the “symbiote fog” but really a not so clever way to hide the distance fog, something I’ve spoken about in my review of Turok: Dinosaur Hunter and Turok 2: Seeds of Evil, could be eliminated entirely in favour of a more detailed New York City back drop. What could really use the most work is the game’s camera, in that it didn’t have one. Even after Super Mario 64 came out in 1996 a lot of developers in that era didn’t feel the need to include any type of camera control, even after the Dualshock controller with dual analog sticks became standard not only in the redesigned PSOne, but all PlayStations. As this was the first real attempt to bring Spider-Man to the 3-D space, Neversoft was really pioneering how the character would transition from the ground, to walls, to ceilings with no real point of reference. Similar to the games combat, this too has come very far, especially when it comes to 3-D Spider-Man games.
Whoever would make this hypothetical remake wouldn’t even have to be a slave to the past in certain regards either. Spider-Man had its fair share of unlockable costumes, but since that games release approaching fifteen years ago, there’s been a lot of new Spider-Man outfits that could be thrown in to hunt for, examples being: Superior Spider-Man, 2012 Scarlet Spider, Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man, and even some new female skins like Spider-Gwen, Silk, and the new and improved Spider-Woman. The changes don’t only have to be on the cosmetic level either, but to the core of the game. The status quo of various characters in the Spider-Man universe has changed over the years, for example, J.Jonah Jameson served as mayor or New York, and the mantle of Venom has passed onto a worthier host in the form of Col. Flash Thompson. A few tweaks to the plot and you could have the Scorpion in mission two racing to get to City Hall as opposed to the Daily Bugle, and change the Venom section to mis-understanding between him and Spider-Man that leads to a more believable team-up, and even perhaps a playable Venom, something that wasn’t in the original.
Beyond everything else what I hope would come from this smaller scale remake project is a renewed interest in Spider-Man video games. I really wish that any other publisher other than Activision, a company that values a games bottom-line over a quality product. was making Spider-Man games but this is the state of affairs that the character keeps landing in. Yes, they’re a business, and a very good one at that, but Spider-Man deserves so much better than a few good-to-awful movie tie-in games. After the poor performance of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 not only as a game, but as a film as well, I don’t think that Sony will be rushing any Spider-Man related films into theatres any time soon so that gives Activision, should they still hold the license to make Spider-Man games, adequate time to make a product that isn’t rushed to market. They’ve shown an interest in revisiting their PSOne glory days with 2012’s Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD, why not Spider-Man HD?