Shattered Dimensions (360/PS3)
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Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions DS may be one Spidey short of the home console versions, but this tale of three universes acquits itself well in two dimensions with plenty of side-scrolling comic book thrills.
I must confess to a slightly morbid fascination with the versions of big budget home console games that come out for the more modest platforms. How do you cram a 3D, HD, Dolby Surround, whizz-bang gaming blockbuster on to, say, the Nintendo DS, without it being a creaky disaster?
Well, if the developer is sensible, they don't try and take on the big home version head-to-head at all, but instead tailor an experience for Nintendo's twin-screened wonder.
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions takes this approach. It's the same story as in Shattered Dimensions (360/PS3), the same basic concept, but trimmed and adapted into a side-scrolling, 2D beat-em up/platformer.
The story is by one of the best writers to ever work on the character, and dialogue feels suitably authentic.
The result is a pleasurable throwback to an earlier era of arcade style games, of button-mashing battles with endless goons, scrolling backdrops and bosses with distinct attack patterns that need to be memorised.
It's a style that suits Spidey with his wall-crawling powers and gymnastic fighting style, and the game ticks the most important box, that of letting the player feel like they're being Spider-Man. Movement and combat feels suitably fluid and powerful, although the DS pad can feel a little tricky for more complicated manoueveres and attacks.
The story is by current Amazing Spider-Man comic writer Dan Slott, one of the best writers to ever work on the character, and dialogue feels suitably authentic. The plot is a straightforward macguffin hunt for chunks of a magic rock that has shattered space-time, providing the excuse to play as three different Spider-Men: the conventional Amazing Spider-Man, the 1930s bruiser Spider-Man Noir, and the hi-tech Spider-Man 2099.
While one suspects that the differences between the three heroes' gameplay and worlds are lessened in two dimensions than on more powerful consoles, there's still some variation in tone and power-sets, with Noir more grounded and 2099 able to glide over obstacles. New powers can be gained, and this increases replay value in a package that's also loaded with challenge modes, alternate costumes and other unlockables.
The spoken Stan Lee introduction, which specifically mentions handheld gamers, is a lovely touch.
It's the little touches though, that round out this miniature versions of Shattered Dimensions so nicely: the spoken Stan Lee introduction, which specifically mentions handheld gamers, is a lovely touch. While other dialogue comes in only occasional bursts, it all feels suitably Marvel-ous, with the voiceover artists from various Spider-Man cartoons playing the three variant Spideys.
It all adds up to an appealing handheld package that will especially appeal to fans of two-dimensional platform fighting games, but has enough authentic Spidey charm to please most fans of the character. While it doesn't have the bombast of the home console versions, Shattered Dimensions marshals its resources well and provides a rock-solid DS experience.
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