Slick production values; good soundtrack; appealing 3D graphic engine; decent Metroidvania mechanics
Repetitive combat; weak exploration; lack of variety in world; terrible touch mini-game
Peter Parker dons his mask once more for Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions on DS, but this time he’s not alone. The Griptonite Games-developed title also stars Spider-Man Noir and Ultimate Spider-Man, in a universe ripped apart by super villain Mysterio. The plot sets up a game that is heavily inspired by past “Metroidvania” titles, complete with a slick presentation. But ultimately, a lack of variety and weak combat keep this Spidey from slinging to the top.
Shattered Dimensions starts with a bang, as bass-heavy music pleases your ears. The soundtrack really captures the feel of the Spider-Man universe, and strong voice acting rounds out the aural experience. Stan Lee, creator of Spidey, provides narration for the story, and other actors perform well in the various roles of Spider-Man and villains.
The audio definitely complements the game’s slick presentation. The game utilizes an appealing 3D graphic engine that showcases depth in environments, with cars driving by background streets. Up front, Spider-Man features superb animation, fluidly web-slinging and running through outside New York and underground tunnels. And as a nice touch, achievement menus even pop up while playing to notify players of their awards.
However, these strong production values fail to convey any sense of the three different Spider-Man worlds. The environments, though well rendered, lack variety and devolve into monotony over time. Many rooms feel stagnant and lifeless, with enemies strewn throughout. The main problem stems from the sameness of the dimensions. Each should feel drastically different, but in actuality, come across as reproductions of each other with a small graphical difference. For example, in Noir Spider-Man, the only difference appears to be a minor black-and-white, grain-type filter over the visuals. The over-world works and is serviceable, but it misses an extra punch of style and creativity.
The feeling of sameness carries over to the three versions of Spider-Man’s character as well. Instead of altering the play-style of each character, the heroes each contain one minor move-set difference. For instance, Ultimate can fly while Noir uses Spidey Sense. Over time though, each Spider-Man earns the ability to use each other’s move. This choice works in the context of the game, but once again, fails to differentiate each Spider-Man and world.
Web slinging through the worlds works well and feels responsive. The developer smartly sticks to button controls for all of Spider-Man’s moves, which makes navigating the acrobatic character easy. A problem arises, though, when taking Spidey into combat. For the most part, battles boil down to fevered mashing of the punch button. It is only until very late in the game that player’s move set opens up, allowing for more versatility (and fun) in handling bad guys. The humdrum scuffles come to a head during boss battles, which hit a nerve. While not unmanageable, the villains contain a ton of hit points and are essentially only vulnerable to knuckle sandwiches.
The low point of the adventure resides with a terrible touch-screen mini-game. Players must complete a tapping challenge before warping to another dimension, and this mechanic is as basic as it sounds. Protect a tablet by touching enemies: boring. Even worse, the foes contain maybe a couple frames of animation and the entire mini-game looks dreadful. This tiny segment of the game definitely brings the pacing to halt and feels misplaced compared to the rest of package.
Shattered Dimensions also includes a slew of Challenge Modes to test Spidey’s skills. The idea works on paper, controlling Spider-Man through various challenges with web slinging and gliding. But the execution results in a stress-inducing exercise since the difficulty curve is out of this world. The first challenge kills the weak and even punishes the strong. As such, the mode leaves many with a sour taste after a few tries.
Overall, the title delivers an adequate adventure for Spider-Man and friends. The slick production values jazz up the game, and the Metroidvania exploration works on a basic level. Spidey fails to sling off the ground because of repetitive combat and a lack of variety. The world feels a bit lifeless. With three different Spider-Mans, there needs to be a stronger distinction between each character and their dimensions.
Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.