It seems like every year without fail we see a new Spiderman title come out for one platform or another. This year the Nintendo DS is the lucky recipient of a title featuring everybody’s favorite web slinger with Spiderman: Battle for New York. In this go around we not only get to play as Spidey but as his arch nemesis the Green Goblin. Spiderman games have a good pedigree, and are one of the few licensed series to have more good games than bad. Hopefully, developer Torus Games, is able to bring some of that good fortune to this DS title.
Battle for New York (BFNY) uses the same look that the prior two DS titles used. It is very reminiscent of the Viewtiful Joe series that uses cel-shading and 3d graphics against a 2 dimensional plane. This works great for games like Spiderman: BFNY because of its comic book heritage. The developers are very capable of delivering a look and feel that definitely fits the Spiderman universe.
It’s a shame that they used the same engine though, as I feel like I’ve already played this game twice before. On top of that de-ja-vu feeling, the developer has failed to craft a solid game. There is a lot of slow down in the game, hit detection is spotty at best, and the game doesn’t seem as well polished as its predecessors. I got the feeling that Battle for New York was pushed out a little early in order to make the holiday sales rush. It’s not all bleak however, the cut scenes are sharp and sport a sharp comic book style, and even with the glitches the game still looks decent. I just wish it had more time in development to get the refinements it needs.Ah, I love hearing voices coming out of those little DS carts, especially when the characters are well written and the acting is sharp. Battle for New York won’t win any awards for its soundtrack or special effects, but they work, and they fit in the Spidey Universe. Meaning that the background music is ignorable and the sound effects fit what you’d expect from a comic book based game. Each thud, smack, and cry for help sound good. I can’t say how much I love the voice acted cut scenes. Spidey quips with his usual wit and each character is voiced extremely well. If only other developers would put this much effort in to the voice acting for other DS titles it would make my job much easier.Battle for New York is pretty much another standard 2 dimensional brawler. You’ve got your standard attacks, jump, special move, and character specific attacks. Character specific moves range from grabbing and fireballs for the Green Goblin to web slinging and swinging with spidey. Each character has four special attacks that you use the x button to execute. Sadly, the touch screen is all but ignored in this title too. You can use the bottom screen to choose which special attack to use, and the developers have a couple of the situation specific uses for the touch screen, like dragging up with the stylus to have Spidey lift a car. Unfortunately those instances are few and far between. Over all the controls are fairly ho hum and generic, but they work without being difficult to use. I would have really liked to see a better use of the touch screen instead of the sparse sprinkling here and there.
Like I said earlier, I really feel like I’ve played this game at least twice before. Battle for New York doesn’t really tread any new ground and sticks to the solid basics of its predecessors. Throughout the game you will get to use both Spidey and the Green Goblin to complete missions of differing difficulty to progress in the story. The Green Goblin offers a more physical style of game play, relying more heavily on the punching and grabbing to subdue his enemies. Spiderman on the other hand offers tried and true web slinging that we’ve come to expect and enjoy.
Balance is very important in brawling type games, and Battle for New York severely lacks it. The Green Goblin stages are almost too easy to complete as he is much stronger than any of the enemies and you can simply button mash your way through while completely ignoring his special moves. Spiderman’s stages, on the other hand, are more difficult because Spidey doesn’t do as much damage and gets beat fairly easily. This makes the web slinger’s stages a chore and the goblin’s a bore. The developers saw fit to add rpg-type elements to the game by allowing you to affect which powers to upgrade, but the feature really lacks any impact if you chose not to use the special attacks and nothing in the game forces you to be balanced. You can simply choose to upgrade health and physical attacks and you’re set for the game.
Usually weak game play can be forgiven if a great story wraps it up. Unfortunately, Battle for New York‘s story is trite and overplayed. If you’ve read any amount of the Spiderman series you can probably recite the story verbatim. Even if you are not familiar with Spiderman, there isn’t really much here to recommend story wise. While the characters are individually well written the story is dullsville. Top all of this off with a lack of any kind of multiplayer, challenge modes, or anything beyond the simple and too short single player.
The lack of any extra modes could be forgiven if the main story wasn’t so short. You can easily finish this title in a weekend play through. I think Spiderman fans will be a little more interested in the title than someone just walking in, but overall there isn’t too much to get out of this cart.I think we’ve all seen enough average licensed brawlers in our day. Battle for New York looks to be the victim of a company having to keep their license current, and it is definitely a rushed title that had to make the holiday deadline. It’s a shame because I really enjoyed Ultimate Spiderman, and while this title borrows a lot from it’s past there isn’t enough here to warrant a full price purchase.