The Best Spider-Man Sequel (So Far)

On the day of Spider-Man’s latest theatrical release, we reflect on a GameCube classic!

By Marc Deschamps. Posted 07/07/2017 04:00 1 Comment     ShareThis

Originally published 5/2/14

In 2002, the first Spider-Man debuted both in theaters, and on Nintendo GameCube. While the movie became one of the highest-grossing films of all time, the video game wasn’t nearly as exciting. It was publisher Activision’s third title in two years to feature the web-slinger, and some argued that the series was starting to feel stagnant. Just two years later, in the summer of 2004, Spider-Man returned to theaters and consoles. This time, however, developer Treyarch delivered an experience as entertaining on GameCube as it was on the big-screen. It had found a way to make the experience of being Spider-Man feel more realistic than ever before.

For those unfamiliar with either the game or the film it’s based upon, Spider-Man 2 follows our hero as he battles Doctor Octopus and his own inability to build a social life as a result of his superhuman powers. Since the latter would be difficult to represent in a video game, the title instead confronts the web-head with a number of other familiar foes, such as the Rhino, Mysterio, and Shocker. A number of the film’s actors reprise their roles from the film, most notably Tobey Maguire and Alfred Molina as Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus, respectively. Also returning was actor Bruce Campbell. Campbell made a cameo appearance in all three of the original Spider-Man films and their accompanying games, but he also holds the distinct honor of being the only actor from the original trilogy to return in The Amazing Spider-Man game, based on the film reboot of the same name.

What really made Spider-Man 2 stand out from the character’s previous video game outings is the fact that New York City was, for the first time ever, an open sandbox environment. While Spider-Man on Nintendo 64 had finally given players the chance to web-sling in a 3D environment, this was the first opportunity they would have to travel an open, interactive world. The city streets were no longer covered in an ambiguous fog. Instead, citizens walked through them, lost balloons, got mugged, and just generally needed the help of their friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Reviewers were quick to compare Spider-Man 2 to Grand Theft Auto 3, and since open-world titles hadn’t yet become prevalent in gaming, this was one of the first chances that Nintendo owners had to enjoy such an experience.

In addition to the game’s open world, the title was also praised for its unique web-slinging physics. Unlike previous Spider-Man titles, players couldn’t simply fire a web into the air and start swinging. Much like Peter Parker in that first movie, they had to learn the ropes of web-slinging. In the game, Spider-Man needed to connect a web-line to a building; otherwise, it wouldn’t work. In a city like New York, fortunately there’s no shortage of tall buildings from which to swing. This point became all the more important when Spider-Man had to travel to Liberty Island at one point in the game. While it might seem like an insignificant detail, the web-slinging physics made the game’s world seem even more plausible and interesting. Since Spider-Man 2, no other Spider-Man title has offered this particular detail, and fans still debate the importance of bringing it back.

Upon release, Spider-Man 2 was met with near-universal acclaim. In addition to strong reviews across the board, the game sold incredibly well, earning its place among GameCube’s Player’s Choice library. To this day, the title still continues to receive acclaim. In 2010, it earned a spot in the book “1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die” and appeared on Nintendo Power’s list of the Top 200 Nintendo games of all time. It placed at number 175.

The best sequels find a way to top their predecessors, while delivering an experience that still feels fun and different. Not only did Spider-Man 2 manage to top the original title, it also managed to deliver an experience unlike anything else that had yet appeared on a Nintendo platform. While other Marvel games have been able to replicate that experience, Spider-Man 2 blazed a trail for superhero titles. It’s rare that a tie-in game receives the same level of success as its big-screen counterpart, but Spider-Man 2 is one of the rare exceptions. Only time will tell if Spider-Man’s latest film, not to mention the game that’s based upon it, will be able to match the lofty heights established by Spider-Man 2. Here’s hoping.

One Response to “The Best Spider-Man Sequel (So Far)”

  • 819 points
    Toadlord says...

    The best part of this game for me has to be how satisfying the web slinging feels on the GameCube controller’s pressure pads.

    I still bust out this game once in a while to look for some secrets and do some of the side missions. (Who doesn’t love those pizza missions?) I’ve played through the story twice, and I’m not ruling out a third playthrough eventually.

    Word has it that “moon swinging” has been removed for the most part from the Beenox sequel, but to be honest it doesn’t seem like they’ve added anything new that makes me need to play it. The Hero/Menace system sounds pretty awful to keep up with, and makes finding secrets seem like a chore.

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