We’re looking back at some of the best Spider-Man games in history, leading up to the release of Insomniac Games’ take on the web-slinger tomorrow night for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro. Today, we’re taking a look at the hero’s debut on the original PlayStation, handled by the same team that brought us the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series at Neversoft. Let’s see how he measures up!
Following their success on said franchise, Activision handed the keys to the Spider-Man series for a 2000 release, just in time for the PlayStation’s stride in the gaming market. It’s a move that clearly paid off, not only introducing fans to a worthy comic book adventure for the system, but also providing a great 3D take on the hero -- one that would continue to live on through enhanced ports for the Nintendo 64 and Sega Dreamcast.
Unlike other games that were released for the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo, Spider-Man effectively brought the hero into the third dimension, particularly when it came to web-slinging. True, with the game being on the Sony PlayStation, we didn’t get a full layout of New York City to play around in like we did in Spider-Man 2. However, Neversoft pulled off getting around with some clever use of fog, and a map system that gave you an indication of where to go next. Of course, you could go off the beaten path and go looking for collectible comic book covers, with a number of them available to find within the game.
Not only that, but Spidey found great use with his crawling capabilities, including dropping in on enemies from above, as well as getting around areas in new ways. The combat also bumped things up a notch, at least as far as 2000 game development standards go. Just be careful with your use of webbing, as the number of cartridges you carry are limited.
For the most part, Neversoft effectively put Spider-Man’s talents to good use in this game, and it still shows today.
Not only did Spider-Man introduce some great new elements in 3D, but it also enabled players to enhance his abilities with different abilities and costumes.
The collectible comic books we mentioned earlier do provide some great art to stow in your collection, but they can also give you additional abilities. For instance, fire webbing proves to be very useful when it comes to going against Symbiotes; and Spider-Armor can go a long way in helping you defeat tougher enemies and increasing your defense in some given cases. So tracking them down actually serves more of a purpose than you expect.
In addition, some extra costumes are also available, either by achieving certain goals in Spider-Man or by using a cheat code (you cheater!). These include the Symbiote Spider-Man, as well as Spider-Man Unlimited, street clothes, Amazing Bag-Man and a number of others. Some provide additional abilities, but, for the most part, they’re there to give players some incentive to playing the game again. Who’s ready for Bag-Man to save the city?!
Perhaps the best thing going for Spider-Man is its tone. Neversoft wisely follows the wise-cracking nature of the comics, even if some of the missions that Spidey tackles can be quite death-defying. There are still a lot of good natured jokes, not to mention one bellowing of Venom yelling, “SURF THE WEB! SURF THE WEB!” that some fans still remember to this day. There are also cues to solving certain puzzles, like moving around bombs to a “SAFE place,” indicating that you should put them in a nearby safe. (Check out the clip for “Surf the web!” below.)
Oh, and we mentioned Stan Lee also provides some brief voiceover for the game as well, right? It would be just the beginning, as he would also partake in other games, most notably Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. He didn’t cameo as often as he did in movies, but he was a welcome addition to the games.
Anyway, the story for Spider-Man is a lot of fun, presenting several classic enemies into the fold and even providing a fun little ending that introduces a lot of familiar faces -- including Captain America!
While Vicarious Visions took over development for the sequel to Spider-Man, Enter Electro, which came out a year later, Neversoft got a lot of mileage out of the hero. Along with featuring him in his own adventure, he’s also an unlockable character in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, in which he showcases some real skateboarding talent, alongside his ability to web-zip back onto his board should it get away from him. In fact, the team also produced a bonus video featuring a dude in a Spidey outfit executing tricks, which you can see below.
The original Spider-Man also went on to see great ports for Dreamcast and Nintendo 64, with improved visuals that really took advantage of each format. Not only that, but the quality of the gameplay (and the audio) remained intact as well, so even more people got to enjoy Neversoft’s work.
Sadly, the studio isn’t around anymore, as it was previously absorbed into Infinity Ward to work on the Call of Duty franchise. But Spider-Man will live on as a heroic favorite that’s still worthwhile to PlayStation owners. And it sits pretty comfortably next to Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, if we do say so ourselves.