In 2011, Beenox delivered the first ever Spider-Man game to the 3DS with the release of Spider-Man: Edge of Time. Edge of Time was a respectable port to Nintendo’s underpowered handheld (in comparison to the main SKU of the game on PS3 and Xbox 360) that suffered from what a lot of 3-D games did on the PSP. The game was functional, but you didn’t feel exactly comfortable when playing it seeing as how camera control was locked to the directional pad, meaning you couldn’t manipulate it while you moved around the environment which is a must for a Spider-Man game. Had this been a game designed for the platform, it may have turned out better, but as a port, it was just okay and sadly came out before the circle-pad pro enchancement and years before the New Nintendo 3DS/2DS that had a second analog stick for camera controls.
Such as was the case with The Amazing Spider-Man on PS3 and Xbox 360, Beenox was given a very quick second chance to correct their mistakes learned from Spider-Man: Edge of Time on the 3DS. As opposed to simply porting The Amazing Spider-Man in its purest form, a pretty challenging undertaking given how the main console game was an open-world game though that was accomplished once on the PSP, Beenox instead crafted an experience more suitable to the platform and it’s all the better for it. The Amazing Spider-Man on the 3DS is easily the best solo Spider-Man game on the handheld and a pretty good Spider-Man portable game overall, though it it does lack any significant challenge and is a little forgettable once the credits roll.
The Amazing Spider-Man on 3DS follows the same story as the main console game, serving as a pseudo-sequel to the film in which Oscorp’s cross-species experiments escape confinement and threaten to infect all of New York City with a virus that will turn everyone into hybrid animal monsters. Coming off of Spider-Man: Web of Shadows which was released about three and a half years before it, the story in TASM has a been-there-done-that feel though it does escape the usual trap that a lot of movie games, even the previous Spider-Man ones, that were a slave to the plot of the movie. That all being said, it does culminate in a final boss fight with The Lizard. There’s a sparse use of FMV used to tell the game’s story, but it does use a surprising amount of voice work all pulled from the console game with the main cast from the film replaced by sound alikes.
As mentioned earlier, The Amazing Spider-Man loses the open-world from the PS3/Xbox 360 and uses the missions found within that game for the main campaign. While it’s a downer that you can’t freely swing around an even paired down NYC, this was probably for the best as it makes the game more stream lined for portable play with missions that are fit for pick up and play sessions. An issue with the levels, and one that is true for the console game, is that they’re all of the standard, video game trope play book and composed of things like labs, sewers and subways. They’re not terrible, but they’re not that interesting to play around in and lack anything that makes them feel like they take place in Spider-Man’s world. Making up for the lack of an open-world is a series of side-missions but they too all take place in a few of the same recycled locations made all the more repetitive that you’re doing the same activities over and over like beating up a few thugs, surviving until a timer counts down or sneaking through an area without getting seen.
The best thing about a Spider-Man game though is that even when the world and levels aren’t that interesting, you still get to navigate them as only Spider-Man can. All the abilities from the console game: web slinging, wall crawling, even the web rush mode where you can briefly stop time and quickly zip to a location to escape detection or avoid trouble are all here. The camera control is still not as good as it could be, with vertical manipulation once again limited to the d-pad, however Beenox wisely mapped horizontal camera control to the left and right triggers so it’s at least something. Combat takes a page out of the Arkham games with one attack button and a counter function intuitively mapped to the touch screen where you simply tap it once Spider-Man’s spider-sense goes off. It’s a fighting system that works well for Batman, but with Spider-Man who is a much more nimble and hyper-kinetic character, it makes taking out even rooms of enemies with weapons far too easy. You’ll accidentally rack up combos of fifty plus hits even when the game starts throwing heavier enemies, robots, armed thugs and acid spitting hybrids.
This isn’t just when it comes to stage enemies, but to the bosses as well. As this is a downgraded version of the main SKU console game, it carries a lot of the same boss encounters that are unique takes on Spider-Man’s rogues gallery. Sticking with the theme of animal/human hybrids, you’ll come across the likes of the Scorpion and the Rhino, but instead of being men in battle suits, they’re just monsters and that takes away from the banter that Spider-Man has with his enemies. Other than the Rhino who once again falls into the trope of making him run into something (poor Rhino), most of the other boss characters are just like every other enemy encounter only they take longer to go down. About the only character who’s somewhat like their comic counterpart is Felicia Hardy, who doesn’t go by the name of Black Cat here, and that fight at least requires the use of stealth, but it’s still not that challenging. You do encounter Spider-Slayer robots as well as their designer, Alistair Smythe, however his robotic mechs are easily taken down by just simply waiting for a throbbing weak point to open and then web-rushing into it.
As easy as the combat mechanics are, there’s at least a skill tree of moves and skills to unlock to incentivize fighting. Defeating enemies nets experience which can be traded in for new moves and collecting tech parts from the environment and robotic enemies allows you to buy new upgrades for your web shooters. Experience can also be gained by completing side-missions, but as already mentioned, they do get repetitive as they’re the same handful of objectives over and over again and are a poor replacement for the lack of open-world. Thankfully unlike other Spider-Man games which often force you to complete side-missions to continue the story, they’re completely optional but recommended as you can net a lot of experience early on to get a jump-start on buying abilities.
When you’re squeezing a big game into a tiny 3DS cart, the graphics are clearly not going to be up to par, but The Amazing Spider-Man is still a pretty good-looking game. The environments once again are simply trope levels, but they look the part and does the main hero. Like Spider-Man: Edge of Time before it, where corners were cut it seems was in the coloring department as like that game, Spider-Man’s primary red and blue colored outfit doesn’t pop like it should and feels like the saturation that Warner Bros. does with its live-action DC movies where maroon and navy replaces red and blue. Luckily Spider-Man’s mask conceals his face as when he’s in the company of regular people like Gwen Stacy and Curt Connors, their faces lack the detail as well as texture work and look almost brightened to make up for that lack of detail. I played through this with the 3-D turned off mostly but did try it, but it is effective at certain points such as when Spider-Man is crawling through a vent and the camera is close to him, but unless you really love playing games in 3-D, it’s best turned off as it adds little.
This version of The Amazing Spider-Man is not exclusive to the 3DS as this is a mere port of the game that appeared on the Nintendo Wii. Sadly I don’t have that game in my possession, but from my understanding it’s the same game only with motion controls replacing some functions that a button or the touch screen does on the 3DS, a plus for the 3DS in my opinion. According to the Wii games instruction manual which you can find online, you can plug in a classic controller to not be stuck having to play with the default Wii remote and nunchuk. If there’s any other differences, feel free to bring them up in the comments.
Spider-Man has a long history with handheld games and The Amazing Spider-Man is of the better of them despite its shortcomings. It’s on the easy side and the lack of even a small open-world is certainly missed, but it’s nevertheless fun to navigate this game as only Spider-Man can and the ability to manipulate the camera even a little bit corrects one of the biggest flaws with the characters last 3-D outing on the 3DS. Whether you were a fan of the first Spider-Man reboot film or not, The Amazing Spider-Man is a cart worth tracking down if you’re even a casual fan of comic book games and the title character.