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Spider-Man: Mysterio's Menace

Review By:  Jared Black

Developer:  Vicarious Visions
Publisher:  Activision
# of Players:  1
Genre:  Platform
ESRB:  Everyone
Date Posted:  11-6-01

With Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, Vicarious Visions made an early statement that they had mastered the GBA hardware. With Spider-Man: Mysterio’s Menace, it’s obvious that they’ve further refined that mastery. However, with the genre switch comes a few minor problems.

As you’d expect from a platformer, the storyline isn’t a complicated one. Mysterio is up to it again, using his powers to change NYC into his own amusement park. He’s done this by recruiting a number of Spidey’s major enemies. Naturally, it’s up to Spider-Man to save the city. The storyline plays out throughout the game, with excellent comic-style still screens between levels.

Mysterio’s Menace plays out in a very non-linear fashion. Trouble goes down in three different parts of the city at once, and as a result you can choose to play each level in the order you wish. Once you complete one of the three initial levels, they’ll lead to additional levels on that path. Adding to this variety is the fact that some of the levels have different objectives. While some of them you simply need to reach the boss in, others require you to collect and find various objects (such as five artifacts in a museum).

As Spider-Man, you’ve got all the moves at your disposal that you’d expect to have. Spidey can swing, shoot nets, shoot web bullets, crawl on walls, jump, or just go at it with basic hand-to-hand combat. All of this works well enough, although the close combat can be clunky at times. When fighting in close, occasionally a kick or punch will miss in one instance will the same will hit in another instance. It’s not terrible by any means, but it is inconsistent at times. Additionally, the enemy AI can be suspect at times. Harkening back to the 16-bit platform days, often enemies can be beat by simply standing in one location and performing the same kick/punch over and over again. It’s still fun, but it isn’t a flawless experience.

The graphics, on the other hand, are simply unrivaled. Cityscapes are vast and realistic, while indoor areas all look distinct and highly detailed. The animation is simply awesome and smooth, with each character having a ton of different motions and actions. Without a doubt, it’s the best animation on the GBA yet (and that includes THPS2). It’s hard to emphasize just how good this game looks, so just look at the screenshots for yourself.

The sound is also excellent. The music fits each level very well, and is technically excellent. Unfortunately each tune is a bit too short, and regardless of quality it will get annoying after extended looping. The sound effects are excellent as well, with a number of character and environmental (ex: a bubbling vat of goo) sounds.

Highs:

  • Incredible graphics, including some stunning animation.
  • Accurate controls and tight gameplay, despite occasional problems with close battles.

Lows:

  • The music loops far too often.

Final Verdict:

Spider-Man: Mysterio’s Menace is yet another excellent GBA platformer, and easily the best 2D Spider-Man game ever. While it’s not quite up to the level set by Tony Hawk 2 (or Castlevania in its own genre), Vicarious Visions is still well on its way to becoming one of the best handheld developers ever. Whatever happened to license games sucking?

Overall Score: 8.8

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