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Spider-Man 3

by Jonathan Metts - May 27, 2007, 10:39 am PDT
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Spidey's fourth time around on DS is a worthwhile platformer with very unusual controls.

That the DS version of Spider-Man 3 has all combat moves mapped to the touch screen is not all that shocking. After all, the Wii version has most of its attacks assigned to the motion control in the remote. What's really crazy about the DS game is that all of Spider-Man's movement is controlled with only the D-pad. To continue the Wii comparison, imagine running, walking, jumping, wall-crawling, and web-swinging with only the nunchuk's joystick. It sounds impossible, but the mad scientists at Vicarious Visions have made it work on the DS, and in fact it works extremely well.

Part of the reason Spidey can have so much mobility with just the D-pad is that this game takes place entirely on a 2D plane, although the game is presented with smooth and detailed 3D characters and backgrounds. The camera often rotates so that you're swinging around corners just by moving forward, and this illusion provides a neat little twist (literally) to the level design. Actually, the levels are interesting throughout, which is a huge improvement from the last Spidey game I played on DS, Spider-Man 2 back in 2004. These environments, which include several well known neighborhoods in Manhattan as well as a few large interior spaces, allow plenty of room for high speed web-swinging and yet also include some areas where you need to use careful wall-crawling and web-zipping to get around dangerous obstacles.

The combat centers on your use of the touch screen to swipe in different directions for punches and kicks, tap towards enemies to web them up, and draw circles for special moves. All of these moves work surprisingly well despite the fact that you are actually looking at the game play out on the top screen; the touch controls are simple and forgiving enough that you don't have to look at what you're doing with the stylus. There are a few different types of enemies, like guys with fists, guys with giant hammers, and guys with laser guns. Certain movies work better on certain enemies, but juggling them into the air seems to work universally. Fighting in this game is reasonably fun for a while, but it gets old when the game throws fifteen or twenty gang members in a row at you. On some missions, that's pretty much all you do… just beat up peons until the game decides you've had enough. I could have done without that stuff, honestly. It gets to be pretty brainless after a while, and there are enough health pickups that you don't need to worry about dodging, which is good because the animation isn't quite good enough to predict when an attack is coming. The missions where you rescue victims from a burning building or infiltrate a factory to retrieve evidence are a lot more fun and varied, and they have just the right amount of fighting mixed in with everything else.

You don't expect a handheld game to properly translate a movie's plot, and this one doesn't, but it could have done a better job if it were based on the movie and not on the console game's bizarre version of the script. Combine that with the DS game's bland, minimally animated cut-scenes, and it's basically impossible to tell what's going on in the story. Again I ask, if you can't do better than this, why bother having a plot at all? The voice samples are also taken from the console versions, and they're still repetitive and lazy here.

Partially wasted license aside, Spider-Man 3 is a fluid, fun, refined handheld game that clearly benefits from being the developer's fourth Spidey game on the system in less than three years. If you skipped the last couple of them, as I did, this game is worth checking out for its great platforming gameplay and crazy controls.


Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
9 4 9 7 7 8

This entry to the series doesn't look much different than the past three Spider-Man games on DS, but that's okay because they all look fantastic.


Somewhat grating music and nauseating one-liners from Tobey Maguire had me turning down the volume almost immediately. There's a good bit of voice in the game…but in this case, that's not really a good thing.


It's nothing less than amazing what you can pull off with the D-pad for movement and the touch screen for attacks.


Swinging around the quasi-"open world" 2D city is fun on its own, as are the checkpoint races and a good portion of the story missions. Unfortunately, all of the most interesting parts of the game are padded out with too much repetitive fighting. The combat isn't bad, there's just too much of it with too little variety in the enemies or tactics.


The story campaign takes several hours to play through, I'd say above average for a licensed DS game. There are some very challenging and entertaining race missions and considerably less enjoyable gang suppression missions, but these are all optional. Each area of the city has three bonus items which are deviously hidden but give you extra hero points to unlock moves. You can also replay each story mission at a higher difficulty level.


It seems crazy to ask for a fifth Spider-Man game on Nintendo DS, but I wouldn't mind seeing these great ideas and level designs further expanded. Anyway, Spider-Man 3 is probably the only game adaptation of this movie that you won't regret buying.


  • Excellent level designs
  • Fast-paced gameplay
  • Unusual but very effective control scheme
  • Yet another great looking Spidey DS game
  • A little too much generic combat
  • Butchered story based on other games based on the movie
  • Game-crashing bugs (happened to me twice)
Review Page 2: Conclusion

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Genre Action
Developer Vicarious Visions

Worldwide Releases

na: Spider-Man 3
Release May 2007
eu: Spider-Man: The Movie 3
Release May 2007

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