Addressing Spider-Man Game Quality Concerns

By Ishaan . January 31, 2010 . 1:55pm

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"Our Spider-Man games have sucked for the last five years," Activision CEO Bobby Kotick admitted to Game Informer in a recent issue of the magazine, addressing quality concerns. "They are bad games. They were poorly rated because they were bad games."

 

"We went away from what is Spider-Man," he continued. "It’s about web-slinging. If you don’t do web-slinging, what is the fantasy of Spider-Man?"

 

Kotick’s "We went away from what is Spider-Man" sentiments are interesting because they echo how Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Joe Quesada felt about the character until last year. Unfortunately, Quesada’s approach to taking Peter back to his roots involved retconning his marriage to Mary Jane in exchange for a deal with the devil (Mephisto) to save his Aunt’s life (again). It was an utterly bizarre concept, even by Marvel standards, a complete cop-out after the events of Civil War, and the reason I finally stopped following their comics altogether.

 

Because, hey, if you’re going to undo a character’s life at the height of his evolution, count me out.

 

With regard to the games, however, Bobby Kotick is probably right. The last Spider-Man game I can say I really enjoyed was the Neversoft game on PS1. The movie games were decent, but as a longtime fan, I much prefer when they take place in the "comic universe." It gives the developer far more creative freedom, and the potential for fanservice is vast. Levels like the SWAT helicopter chase from Spider-Man on the PS1 still haven’t been outdone in my personal opinion.

 

That isn’t to say web-slinging is the only issue that needs to be addressed. Something I’d very much like to see Activision consider is some sort of a dynamic monologue / dialogue system, based on your actions within the game, which emphasizes Peter’s personality. I feel like that’s at least half the appeal of the character. A story that isn’t as outrageous or overused as Web of Shadows would be nice, too. Did we really need another symbiote outbreak?

 

I’d point to dialogue, characterization and conveying the "feel" of the character himself as great starting points for bringing the games back up to scratch. The PS1 game was great because it looked to the right source (the ’90s Fox cartoon) for inspiration. What else can you think of?


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  • Eddie

    I haven’t read this article yet but……… I am not a fan of Bobby Kotick…. Saying that was necessary.

  • neo_firenze

    Friend or Foe is the only Spider-Man game I’ve enjoyed since… jeez, maybe the early 90s Sega arcade game? Well, outside of the Capcom 2D fighters that have Spidey in them as part of the Marvel cast. Just not into the 3D free roaming web-slinging stuff myself.

    I know most people hate Friend or Foe, but I found it refreshing as a throwback to the good arcade beat-em-ups of old, with a fairly slick presentation and good controls. It also makes good selections for playable/unlockable characters, and just has a sense of good-natured fun instead of pained seriousness. I’ll take it any day over any of the other PSX to present iterations.

    • cowcow

      HorribleEspecially when you compare it to Spider-Man for PS1 because you can look at that game too as a beat em up. Did you even read the article? What makes Spider-Man great is his web slinging and there’s little of that in Friend or Foe.Now Ultimate Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 were certainly the best with Web of Shadows gameplay elements (not story) coming in third imo.

      • neo_firenze

        “Did you even read the article? What makes Spider-Man great is his web slinging and there’s little of that in Friend or Foe.”I read the article, I just don’t agree. I personally don’t care about web slinging and I don’t agree that’s what “makes Spider-Man great”. Please don’t assume someone who doesn’t agree with you, the author of an article, or Bobby Kotick just didn’t read.I like Friend or Foe because I like the decidedly old school beat em up feel. The Spider-Man aspect is more in that they use a good roster of Spider-Man villains (who you get to control). The 3D free roaming stuff just doesn’t do it for me. I realize I’m probably in the minority. I don’t care though, I don’t make my decisions about my tastes in games based on popular opinion.

  • malek86

    I played the N64 game ages ago, I remember it wasn’t all that good.

    Recently I also played Ultimate Spider-man for the DS. It was ok, but also very short. Still, I wouldn’t say it was a bad game. Many non-RPG games for the DS are short anyway.

  • Chow

    I’ve personally enjoyed most of the free-roaming versions simply because of the feeling you get by just swinging around. Since they introduced that mechanic in Spider-Man games, I usually refuse to play any of the others (such as the 2D and/or brawler versions).

    The worst of the Spider-Man games in recent memory would definitely be all versions of Spider-Man 3, however. Nothing worked right in that game. It was like they didn’t even care and just wanted to cash in to the movie.Spider-Man 2 was really cool because it was the first time you got the free-roaming Spider-Man. I can’t say how much I’d enjoy it now, though.Ultimate Spider-Man is a mixed bag. I can’t remember which parts I liked about it, and thinking back, I enjoyed the story and the gameplay. But that’s all I usually focus on when thinking about whether or not I like a game, so that’s why I can’t figure out or remember what this “thing” that’s wrong with it is.I thoroughly enjoyed Web of Shadows, as it has the best and most intense combat system of them all. I thought the Symbiote story was a little cliched, but in the end, it didn’t really matter to me, as the fights were just plain awesome. Best out of the bunch would be the Vulture fights and the Black Cat fights.

  • http://twitter.com/matty_125 matty

    Interesting. From what I played, I didn’t think the games outright “sucked”, just a ho-hum title you’d expect of a game adapted from a film franchise. Then again, there are only about two games I played years back, so if there are more Spiddy games out there and if Bobby Kotick says they “sucked”, I’ll take his word for it.

    I wonder if this has to do with the next film or the idea of starting the film series from the beginning again.

  • cjeromek

    If web of shadows “sucked” then I’d loved to see what they could do to get it “right”. To me web of shadows biggest Problem was it’s story.

  • http://denpanosekai.blogspot.com denpanosekai

    Behold, the “Arkham Asylum” effect.

    • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

      Pretty much, yea. XD

      But I hope to God their next big Spider-Man game isn’t going to be the movie reboot tie-in. I’m avoiding that thing like the plague.

      • neo_firenze

        Bobby Kotick may be an asshole, but he does know what he’s doing. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this isn’t just intelligent salesmanship, trying to get the idea in people’s heads that the last few Spidey games were subpar, but Activision is on top of it making an awesome “reboot”. Which is probably indeed going to be a movie reboot tie-in.

        • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

          I agree. Bobby Kotick takes a lot of flack for the things he says, but a lot of what he says is very smart and very well-thought-out.

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