Spider-Man: Edge of Time DS Review
Spider-Man, on the surface, is the perfect prototype for a video game hero. He has a wide variety of acrobatic moves and super strength. He can literally walk on walls, swing through the air from great heights, and when written well, has humorous quips that will make you chuckle, even while getting pounded on by the likes of the Green Goblin or Doctor Octopus. And the rest of his rogue’s gallery rivals that of Batman in the variety of the strange and the macabre.
So, when Spidey actually becomes a video game hero, it should be an awesome experience, right? Unfortunately, the fine folks at developer Other Ocean have no idea how to handle a character like Spidey in a video game world, and the end result is the abysmal abomination known as Spider-Man: Edge of Time for the Nintendo DS.
Edge of Time on DS, like its console cousins, is a story that stretches over two distinct time periods. One, the familiar New York of the Peter Parker Spider-Man, and the other, the futuristic New York of 2099 that Miguel O’Hara prowls as Spider-Man 2099.
The story follows some mad scientist fellow as he goes back in time in 2099 to present day New York, minus thirty years (yup, this is how it is explained in the game. Seriously.) to build his company, Alchemex, into an empire in the present day.
Because the past is changed, present day Peter Parker’s world changes, (though no one knows it, since it was the past being altered) and only Miguel O’Hara back in 2099 knows what is truly going on, as he was there when the evil scientist went back in time, and thankfully explained his intentions before time jumping.
And inexplicably, O’Hara in 2099 is able to converse telepathically with present day Peter Parker as to join forces to stop the evil scientist from completing his nefarious plans of creating an IPO to increase his stock portfolio, or whatever his motives are. It is never fully explained.
The gimmick in Edge of Time is that you can switch between time periods by pressing the select button, so Spidey in present day can solve a puzzle like open a door that is locked for Spidey in 2099. That’s over simplifying it, I know, but you get the gist of the ludicrousness of the entire endeavor.
Silly and preposterous story aside, the technical aspects of the game are just as broken. As in B-R-O-K-E-N. The map on the second screen of the Nintendo DS doesn’t work (Spidey 2099 never matches up with the map in his time period) and since you can’t scroll the map, it serves as… well, there is no point. It’s just kind of there.
And the game is very buggy (pun intended). Spidey (both of them) will suddenly freeze up while jumping or swinging, and the poor hit detection while in combat (using the term very loosely…more on that in a sec) is mind-boggling. Spidey has to be right next to an enemy to connect a hit, while the villain is given a much wider attack range.
What’s more, I stepped out of a building in 2099 and the screen froze, then flashed white, and then I was treated to 4-bit “block Spidey” level, reminiscent of the old Atari 2600 Spider-Man game.
The level designs for most of the game are bad, but not this bad. In fact, in all my years of playing games on a Nintendo DS, I’ve never seen this happen. I actually broke the game.
In this broken mode, I saw that my character’s range of motion (the area around the character) was small and ill-defined by the blocky pixels, while the enemies range was more defined and far-reaching.
Yes, a laughable glitch in the game showed me a huge part of what is wrong with the game. I saw it. Why couldn’t the QA guys at Other Ocean or Activision?
And all of this shoddy gameplay, terrible level designs, and ridiculously poor hit detection are a shame, as the character models look decent, and the animations on both Spideys are fluid and hark back to the great Spider-Man games on the Super Nintendo System.
Combat in Edge of Time consists of punching and kicking. That’s it.
Spidey is a character that can shoot webbing from his wrists (depending on what version, either organically or by scientifically-created devices) and has the strength of 100 men, and all he can do in Edge of Time is punch and kick. There are no creative web-enhanced combat moves. It’s simply punch, kick, rinse, repeat.
Most of the enemies you come across consist of “shooting guy” and “electric cattle prod guy.” Whether in 2099 or present day, this is your enemy. They do switch up the colors in the different time periods, if that matters to you.
In all fairness, there were one-off unique enemies, like some kind of robotic-type soldier thing and something that could only be described as a complete rip off of the Ninja from Metal Gear Solid, but the majority of the enemies are “shooting guy” and “electric cattle prod guy.”
The boss battles are simple exercises of punch-dodge-punch, and for variety, you can switch it up to kick-dodge-kick, but only if you’re feeling randy. If you really want to flex your gamer muscle, you can punch-dodge-kick. But that’s only for advanced players.
It is nice to see the villains from the comics make appearances, such as Doc Ock Black Cat, and Rhino, but the reason for their inclusion is never explained. I guess if an evil scientist is playing the part of the antagonist, all of the other bad guys just automatically join up with him. Or something like that.
There are also hidden power-ups to enhance your webbing and extend your life meter, but really, after an hour or so of playing, you don’t really care any more and you just stop looking.
The music in Edge of Time is painfully generic, and the variety of sound effects can be counted on one hand. There are pseudo-animated cut scenes between events/chapters in the game, and they are fully rendered in motion-comic styling.
There is also voice acting, with Val Kilmer playing the evil scientist, Walker Sloan and Christopher Daniel Barnes voicing Spidey 2099, Miguel O’Hara. Barnes voiced Spidey in the 1990s cartoon series on Fox TV.
Josh Keaton, no stranger to the Spider-Man universe himself, voices present day Peter Parker. And Katee Sackhoff from Battlestar Galactica fame even lends her voice to Black Cat. It’s a good cast for such a terrible game.
My mother always told me that if I couldn’t say anything nice, I shouldn’t say anything at all. Unfortunately, in this case, there is nothing positive to say, so I hope my dear old mother will forgive me.
Spider-Man: Edge of Time is a complete waste of time. There is no redeeming value in this game, and it will only serve to frustrate you to the point that you may actually break your Nintendo DS. Shoddy level design, broken technical issues, and a story that is just ludicrous all combine to create a venerable mess of a game.
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