A free roam in New York city to web-swing around, more and better boss battles, select-a-Spidey, and more ideas I think Activision and Beenox should use to restore Spider-Man to video game greatness as they used to be.
Let’s face it, the most likely new game we’ll get for Spider-Man will be based upon the 2012 reboot, “The Amazing Spider-Man”, next July. But to be perfectly honest, I’d rather that Activision and Beenox, who have gotten hold of developing Spidey’s games since the recent “Spider-Man: Edge of Time” (which I admit, I haven’t played yet, so please keep that in mind when I refer to things about the game even though I haven’t actually played it yet), put just as much effort, if not more effort, into their next Spidey game based on the comic books. The problem is, the recent games have been severely lacking that original, fun quality past Spidey games have had. I’m going to break it down, nice and simple, and point out what SHOULD be done for Beenox’s next Spider-Man game. Here are my Top Ten things the developers should keep in mind when making a new Spidey game:
1.) GET SPIDEY BACK ON THE STREETS OF NEW YORK CITY, WHERE HE BELONGS.
There’s a reason why “Spider-Man 2: The Movie” video game is still considered by fans as the best Spider-Man video game to date, and it’s because of the free-roam web-swinging you could do through the streets of New York. From what I understand of “Edge of Time”, most of the game-play takes place inside the same place: in a building. And if you think about it, that’s pretty peculiar to lack that in a game about SPIDER-MAN. He’s SUPPOSED to be swinging over the city. While “Shattered Dimensions” and “Edge of Time” have been fun for gamers, both have been frustrating to Spidey AND gamer fans alike for whatever reason, whether it was repetitive game-play or bad camera angles or whatever. But what most, if not ALL, Spidey fans want to see is Spider-Man going back to the free-roam style where you get to FEEL like you’re Spider-Man when you web-swing over the city streets. I mean, Spider-Man is known for web-swinging and wall-crawling, so both qualities can be used in needing to complete certain levels to keep things fun and not too repetitive. Why not give the people what they want, by having Spidey go explore over a free-roam environment of New York instead of through a building?
2.) THE STORY NEEDS TO BE IMPROVED.
Everything needs to have a good story, because without it, your product is nothing. (Hear that, “Green Lantern”?) And from what I’ve read, “Spider-Man: Edge of Time” has its plot holes and can at times be weak in its story. The next game needs to have a good foe for Spider-Man to chase through the city to stop, because that’s what Spidey does: he fights bad guys in present day New York and swings from place to place. It can be a challenge to have a believable, realistic plot for a Spider-Man game when so many of the characters are superhuman characters in colorful costumes. Then again, that doesn’t mean we need aspects of the game-play that can be too repetitive and have the story be too short or too long. It’s a balancing act, yeah, but past Spider-Man games have proven if you keep the story simple, to the point, and fun with a few Easter eggs tossed in along the way, you can’t go wrong with a working formula for a Spidey game. Besides, what Spidey fan wouldn’t love going back to the free-roam style and explore places in New York like the Daily Bugle or the Fantastic Four’s Baxter Building hideout or Stark Towers or may be Avenger’s Mansion? One thing’s for sure: flipping switches and jumping through hoops have to go in a Spider-Man game.
3.) KEEP CHRISTOPHER DANIEL BARNES AND JOSH KEATON ON THE SPIDEY CAST.
I don’t care how it’s done, these guys need to stay put. Period. From what I’ve read, Barnes and Keaton are THE reasons for getting your hands on “Edge of Time” because of the chemistry between the two. Fans can argue who’s the better voice actor for Spidey and who should voice WHICH Spidey forever, but the fact is these guys ARE the voice of Spidey. The voice acting is rightly considered the best aspect of “Edge of Time” and I can say that because I’ve seen the clips released for the game. The jokes, the delivery, and Barnes’ classic “MARY JANE!” yell… from what I’ve heard, it’s all there. One of the things I miss, though, is the fact that Barnes hasn’t voiced the PETER PARKER Spider-Man since the popular Fox Kids “Spider-Man” animated series of the 1990s and I hope he voices the “real” Spidey for the next game, whatever it may be. Hopefully, if there’s a Spidey game where there’s multiple-alternate reality Spider-Men again, we can see Barnes as Peter Parker/Spidey, but one thing’s for sure: Barnes and Keaton should be in the next Spider-Man game in some capacity. If it ain’t broke…
4.) SELECT A SPIDEY: NOT JUST IN COSTUME, BUT IN VOICE.
This was one aspect of “Edge of Time” I was as intrigued by as I was irritated: the alternate Spider-Man costumes. Sure, Spidey’s had many suits over the years, but do we have to have so many variations in the game? And on the subject, why do so many of them have to be “exclusive” and “downloadable content when you pre-order it from (store name here) only”? It’s annoying and it’s ridiculous. The two “Spider-Man” games for PlayStation 1 got it right: you can have a select number of suits in the game, and THEY’RE ALREADY THERE. No hassle, no need to have a previously-saved Spidey game to unlock it. Some suits should be there, like armored Spidey or even Octo-Spidey, who I don’t think has ever been done in a game, because they’re from the comics. Then again, I don’t know how many people are lining up to unlock The Amazing Bag-Man alternate suit. Better yet, here’s a follow-up idea: how about you can select not only which Spider-Man you get to play (Ultimate, 2099, Amazing, etc.), but WHO THE VOICE OF SPIDEY IS TOO? Come on, you can pick a character’s suit. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could pick who the voice actor was, too? These guys record alternate dialogue for games all the time, so it shouldn’t be too far-fetched to have different actors do the same character’s lines but have the gamers pick out which actor voices him, right?
5.) SPIDEY’S GOT A GREAT ROGUES GALLERY OF VILLAINS; USE THEM!
I was very disappointed when I found out about the lack of boss battles for “Spider-Man: Edge of Time”. Anti-Venom and Black Cat 2099 are bosses, sure, but the main boss isn’t someone recognizable and iconic like the Green Goblin or Doctor Octopus. Instead, we got… Dr. Walker Sloan? Really? Also, I wasn’t fond of the recent reveal of the “Atrocity” character, which mixed Sloan, Anti-Venom and Doc Ock. Mainly because that character was better in every conceivable way the first time around when PS1 introduced him as MONSTER OCK, when Carnage’s symbiote bonded with Doctor Octopus and gave us one of the best final boss battles in all of Spider-Man’s video game history. Atrocity is just… well, an atrocity. It’s ugly and seems to be ripping off an exclusive-for-the-game character of a past game. If you wanted a symbiote to bond with Ock, why not just bring Monster-Ock BACK?
Here’s what the next Spider-Man game should do: include more boss battles and use more of Spidey’s classic rogues. As I’ve said before, I’m surprised all of Spidey’s main enemies have never been in the same game together. This next game should have them ALL in some capacity and as either a minor or major boss battle for Spidey – Chameleon, Vulture, Doctor Octopus, Sandman, Lizard, Electro, Mysterio, Green Goblin, Kraven, Scorpion, Rhino, Shocker, Hydro-Man, Hobgoblin, Venom, Carnage, Anti-Venom, etc. And if you got characters to meet up and fight in an area best suited for their powers as a challenge for Spidey to stop them, like fighting Sandman on a beach or Mysterio in a movie studio, Spidey fans and gamers would likely get a kick out of it. People say that someone like Doctor Octopus, Venom, or the Green Goblin should be the final boss in the game. I say, I don’t care who shows up as the last boss for players to battle – can’t we just have them all in there somewhere?
6.) EASTER EGGS, PLEASE.
Wouldn’t it be fun to go into a warehouse to take down some crooks and you instead find a hidden door that reveals a Goblin hideout, complete with gliders and pumpkin bombs? Better yet, why not drop by Forest Hills and check on Aunt May in her home for a visit? There are so many possibilities of what kind of Easter eggs you could do, like dropping by the Baxter Building and hang out with Johnny Storm or going by to foil a robbery, only to find Daredevil’s there and you get to briefly chat since he has already stopped said robbers May be an X-Men Reference or Hell’s Kitchen tour. I don’t care what Easter eggs the developers ultimately use, one thing’s for sure: there was a real lack of them in past Spidey games, and they need to make a comeback.
7.) BRING BACK PAST VOICE ACTORS FOR THE OTHER CHARACTERS, SUCH AS VILLAINS AND SUPPORTING CAST MEMBERS.
I’ve said this before, but then again, it bears repeating. Sometimes, some of the voice actors chosen for certain character roles can seem… off. Just look at “Web of Shadows” for proof. You need a good cast for all things Spidey, and video games are certainly no exception. If you’re going to bring in some of Spidey’s best baddies for the game’s boss battles, why not use guys that have voiced the character before? John DiMaggio has voiced Hammerhead, the Rhino and Sandman for past Spidey games and animated series, so why not have him back as the voice for at least one of those villains? Daran Norris has had involvement for past Spidey games and cartoons too, such as voicing J. Jonah Jameson for both the PS1 “Spider-Man” game and “The Spectacular Spider-Man” animated series, among other Spidey characters. Who wouldn’t want to hear “Spider-Man: The Animated Series” voice actors like Maxwell Caulfield and Mark Hamill reprise their roles as Alistair Smythe and Hobgoblin, respectively? Or maybe get Michael Dorn and Lisa Loeb to reprise their roles as Kraven and Mary Jane after voicing the characters for MTV’s “Spider-Man” computer-animated series. Or perhaps, get Peter MacNicol and Xander Berkeley back to voice Doctor Octopus and Mysterio, respectively, after they previously voiced the roles on “The Spectacular Spider-Man”. Heck, you could even get voice actors for the new “Ultimate Spider-Man” cartoon to come onboard, like Steven Weber as the voice of Green Goblin and J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson. The point is, these guys are still here and still contributing their voices to recent Spider-Man games. The problem is they’re usually playing either alternate reality version of the characters, like DiMaggio voicing Noir Hammerhead for “Shattered Dimensions”, or someone else entirely, like Berger voicing Kingpin for “Web of Shadows” rather than Mysterio. The possibilities are endless and besides, people like nostalgia. I know, this isn’t the first thing that’d come to gamers’ minds on their own wish list of what they’d like to see in a Spidey game, but I think it’d be cool to have Neil Ross back as the voice of the Green Goblin or Vanessa Marshall back as the voice of Mary Jane. Oh, and more Stan Lee narrations for the next game, please. We need more Stan the Lee in Spidey games. Lots more!
8.) BETTER UNLOCKABLE CONTENT.
Sometimes, after you’ve beaten a certain level or even the game itself, it doesn’t really feel like you’ve accomplished much. One thing that was fun about the “Spider-Man: The Movie” game was that you could play as the Green Goblin after you beat it. I honestly don’t know what would happen if you beat the “Spider-Man 2” movie game, because, as fun and beloved as it is by fans, I have no clue because I don’t think anyone’s even BEATEN it yet because the challenges like jumping through hoops and stuff within a specified time limit can be so blasted hard. When you beat this Spider-Man game, give them something to show for it to have the replay factor be fun for gamers, whether they’re Spidey fans or not. You could unlock an alternate Spider-Man like the previously-mentioned Octo-Spidey (it’s Spidey with Doc Ock’s tentacles, folks – imagine the combo attacks NOW!), a different character like a close Spidey hero (Black Cat, Daredevil, etc.) or villain (Venom, etc.), or something to that effect. But the point is, it has to be something special, something that makes you feel excited and say “I’m glad I beat my game for this!” instead of asking in disappointment, “I beat my game for THIS?” They should take examples from X-men Legacy where Deadpool is unlocked after you beat the game or Marvel Ultimate Alliance
9.) NO SIDE-MISSIONS OF RETRIEVING A LOST BALLOON TO A KID, EVER AGAIN.
Just trust me on this one.
10.) HAVE FUN PLAYING AS SPIDEY.
One word that’s being described for “Edge of Time”, from what I’ve read, is “boring”. And “boring” should never, EVER be mentioned in a review of a Spider-Man video game. The web-swinging and combat moves should feel fun and fresh, the levels and main boss opponents of the game should be challenging but not hard enough to make you want to break the controller in a Hulk-level bout of rage, and have the repetition of level tasks kept to a minimum. Granted, repetition is inevitable, but it should still be fun and make you want to replay the game. You could even bring back some old aspects of past Spidey games, like taking pictures for the Daily Bugle to earn money for webbing like the Sega Genesis’ classic “Spider-Man” game, or add features from the comics to help complete tasks in levels, like letting players use Spider-Man’s spider-tracers to track down escaping enemies or using Spidey’s belt beam Spider-Signal to look around darkened rooms. The point is, mix things up a little next time around. Players should get a thrill out of not just playing a Spider-Man game, but get the feeling that they ARE Spidey whether they’re swinging over a sidewalk or knocking Doc Ock’s lights out with a punch to the jaw.
Granted, this editorial would’ve helped me make my point a lot better if I actually rented and played “Spider-Man: Edge of Time” first, but I’ve simply lacked the time to do so. But from what I’ve read about the game, even if I HAD played it first before I wrote this, this review of mine might’ve still been written just the same.