Spider-Man Edge of Time for the DS tries to take the essence and story found on the console versions and convert it to a 2D action game. In order to do this the developers tried to model their gameplay after the metroidvania style that has been so popular on Nintendo’s handhelds. But it’s apparent from the start that either the developer either didn’t have enough time to adequately make this version of the game or this version simply wasn’t a priority. As it is, it’s hard to find much to like with Spider-Man Edge of Time on the DS.
Are You Sure Peter David Wrote This?
The story in the game was penned by long time comic book writer Peter David (One of my favorite comic book writers) and it features both Peter Parker and Spider-Man 2099, Miguel O’Hara. That’s about where the good stops though, as it feels like a lot of the story is left out of this portable version. At the beginning of the game an Alchemax scientist named Dr. Walker Sloan decides to go back in time to our current day in order to start building his corporation now, so that it will be that much further ahead in 2099. Truly evil stuff (please insert sarcasm). This of course puts Peter Parker in direct confrontation with him at the Alchemax building. Time portals open up, and before you know it Spider-Man 2099 is talking to Peter Parker through some sort of time traveling telepathic link. In short, the story that the DS version received is really weak. I haven’t actually played the console versions of this game, but I have to imagine that they received a much more fleshed out version of this story.
As I mentioned earlier the game patterns its gameplay after the 2D Metroid and Castlevania games. The Alchemax corporate headquarters acts as the main area to explore. The problem is that this corporate building has no logical floor plan to it and is essentially just one boring grayish corridor connected to the next. There is nothing anywhere near as atmospheric or detailed as you would find in any giving version of Dracula’s Castle or Planet Zebes. To top it off, the map feature (Something that is essential in a Metroidvania style game) is completely broken in this game. Spider-man himself is represented by a blue blob on the screen, but the problem is that the 2099 version never seems to line up with the map. So you can never actually tell where Spider-Man 2099 is on the map.
Perhaps the biggest problem with this entire game is the actual gameplay itself. Both versions of Spider-Man play essentially the same way. You navigate around the map trying to get from one destination to another. Along the way henchmen and robots will stand around trying to harm you. You don’t actually need to fight them though as they can easily be avoided, so avoid them you will. Once you get to your destination you are usually confronted with a boss fight that is so easy and trivial that a blind Nun could probably beat them on her first try. Spider-Man(s) punches, shoots webbing, and does gain powerup attacks. But for the most part you will just punch things to kill them since the other attacks don’t work as well.
Rounding out the bad are the graphics. The environments are extremely barren and uninteresting, mostly composed of grays, blues and generic looking office cubicles or factory conveyor belts. The character models aren’t even impressive looking. Both versions of Spider-Man are small and if it weren’t for the different coloring and Spider-Man 2099’s web cape it would be very difficult to tell them apart. In short Spider-Man Edge of Time is nothing to look at, even when compared to other DS titles.
Here’s something odd about the game that might otherwise not see any attention, Val Kilmer does the voice work for the main antagonist Dr. Walker Sloan. Yes Joel Shumacher’s favorite Batman actor has somehow found a new low in his career and has done voice work for this game. But then again with as bad as this game is it’s debatable if it’s as bad as MacGruber. Val I beg of you, put down the Big Mac and go back to being awesome, we want you to be our Huckleberry.
Look at the Box-Art, Spider-Man is Hanging His Head in Shame
Getting back on track, I really can’t recommend Spider-Man Edge of Time on the DS to anyone. The gameplay is extremely basic, the story is neutered, the graphics are a dull mess, the map system is broken, and the game’s level design can’t hold a candle to the games it is trying to emulate. I would like to point out that neither Beenox nor Griptonite Games developed this version of the game, unlike the superior Spider-Man Shattered Dimensions and the other versions of Edge of Time. So here’s hoping that Activision picks a better developer for the next Spider-Man DS game.