Spidey said Mysterio's head looked like a goldfish bowl! I can't stop laughing!
Almost every Spider-Man game since the goofy 4-color Game Boy one with the Spider-Slayers and skateboards has been good, or at least reasonable, so apparently someone decided it was time to once again release a Spidey game constructed entirely out of broken logic and absurd gameplay. The wait is over!
There are eight chapters in Spider-Man 2, loosely held together with a 3D "hub" level selection and a few totally optional levels. The levels are strictly 2D, but still require a smidgen of exploration. The 2D characters are smoothly hand-animated, with some cool attention to detail, like the way Spidey turns his head to look up or when he gets a new running animation with the running upgrade. There's a little bit of laziness, though - there's a big flashy video cut right from the movie as the game intro, yet the still-image dialogue cut-scenes seem to be screencaps from the console games. What the hell? The sound isn't that good either, with forgettable music and crusty sound effects.
The story vaguely follows that of the movie, with some extra villains and missions thrown in. The villains? Rhino, Lizard, Shocker, Mysterio, Puma, and Doc Ock. That entails a boss battle with each of them, of course; some are more fun than others. Each level completed yields experience points that can be used to buy new moves or other upgrades, like more health or higher jumps. The experience system seems kind of tacked on, and it doesn't really make a big difference, except for the health boost.
Some of the new moves include new attack combinations, but they're mostly useless. In fact, one of Spidey's best moves is a standard crouching punch (all he needs now is some Muay Thai and an eyepatch - oh, bugger, wrong game). Sometimes, though, inexplicably, button presses don't register. Spidey doesn't jump if he doesn't feel like it, apparently, or will stop moving forward until the control pad is released and pressed again. Usually, the control is very tight, so it's very weird. It's not bad enough that it messes up the game, but it's still a little disconcerting. He can also shoot web balls, but those run out quickly, and aren't even that interesting. They don't stick or magically tie up enemies, they just hit like a punch. Fortunately, though, when those run out, it doesn't put his web-swinging to an end. There's one more little control-related irritation - when battling the Rhino, Spidey needs to jump on a truck and throw barrels off of it with the B-button. However, when B is hit, Spidey just punches them and they explode, requiring another minute of painful play on that obnoxious level. The trick is to approach the barrel and wait for an arrow to appear. No hints are given about this; the answer was gleaned from the GameFAQs forum after a bit of frustration.
There is an assortment of goons and henchmen, including a few giant lizards and robotic doodads. Spidey does some of his trademark wisecracking taunts, except, no, he doesn't. The dialogue in this game is harder to read than an L. Ron Hubbard book that's covered with scorpions and anthrax. Sure, suggesting similarities between fish bowls and Mysterio's head isn't too bad, but saying "well, you'll be getting plenty of attention from now on, behind bars!" is beyond cheesy. It's just horrible. And if I were the Shocker, I'd want to kill Spidey too, if he called me an "oven-mitt head."
Quite a few things in this game defy all sense of logic and design. The game starts entirely on the wrong foot with a mission that requires running pizzas from a pizza boy on a rooftop to customers hidden away in office buildings - pretty much every window and vent in the neighborhood needs to be smashed in in order to deliver their pizzas in this stupid level. There's nothing indicating where any of the customers are, either.
The bank robbery level is even worse. For some reason, there are giant fans that push Spidey away and are totally unpassable. The thugs in the level have no problem with them, however, nor do they have any problems with being more agile than Spidey himself. It doesn't sound that bad, but the level is so irritating, I nearly quit right there.
Lucky for me, the game gets at least a bit better after that. Highlights include Mysterio's tripping-out bizzaro level, which plays a lot like a level from Sonic the Hedgehog - yeah, a bit like Spring Yard Zone or Casino Night Zone. Another level requires Spidey to disarm a bunch of bombs in sequence while scaling a construction site (complete with moving, magically floating girders). So, yeah, if someone can get over the fact that a great deal of the game is completely implausible, some fun can be had. Probably not enough to make it worth buying, though, especially since the game is only a couple hours long and any semblance of unlocks (an image gallery) are an insult. Nobody wants to look at a gallery of movie screencaps on a GBA screen.