Spider: The Video Game (PS1) Review

Spider: The Video Game, not to be confused with Spider: The Insect, Spider: The Man or Spider: The Psychological Thriller Starring Ralph Fiennes, was one of several early attempts to place traditional action-platforming into a three-dimensional environment. But unlike it’s piers Pandemonium and Klonoa, Spider has been largely forgotten by the gaming legions.

The plot probably isn’t worth writing about, but since the developers went through the trouble of making some fairly high quality cutscenes, I’ll give you the basics. You’re a scientist working on bionically enhanced bugs and rodents, and apparently you’re also working on brain-transfer technology. Your lab is raided by thugs in the employ of a disembodied brain, who’s naturally interested in your technology so he can become an embodied brain. The goons inexplicably open fire on you, and after taking one in the chest you fall on some equipment, which serendipitously transfers your consciousness into the body of a bionic spider. The henchmen make off with your human body, and you, as a cybernetic arachnid, make off after them. It’s cheesy stuff, but in the grand scheme of video game storylines, it’s as good as any.

Despite this cornball plot, Spider isn’t what I’d consider a kids’ game. It’s pretty tough, and you’ll need every one of the game’s infinite lives and continues to see the end credits. The levels have no checkpoints, and the enemies can be quite a handful to take down without getting damaged. I found the camera to be a tad too close to the action, considering the speedy clip at which the game moves, and you often have only a split second to react when an enemy appears in front of you. It certainly would’ve been an improvement if the camera was a bit further away, since your fragile spider-bod can only take two hits before being sent back to the beginning. Still, the game is very fun and playable, though a moderate degree of memorization is required for some of the harder sections.

It’s clear that this was meant to be a breakout title, because a lot of love and care was put into it. Everything is very well-designed, from the eclectic and atmospheric soundtrack to the varied and coherent level layouts, many of which are non-linear and have multiple exits to find. The designs of the critters is remarkable, using so many polygons that at first I though they were well-animated sprites. Some even showcase some respectable texture work. It’s all a bit much for the Playstation, which chugs when too much is going on at once, but the fact that the visuals can still be admired over ten years later really says something.

Why a high quality game like Spider wasn’t a bigger hit, I’ll never know. Maybe the gaming populace of the time was so fixated on getting a “true” 3D adventure, with games like Mario 64 on the horizon, that a gussied up 2D game didn’t hold any appeal. And maybe people just don’t like spiders.

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~ by Krooze L-Roy on November 25, 2008.

One Response to “Spider: The Video Game (PS1) Review”

  1. I loved this game! It never gets old when your blowing up other insects with a freaking rocket launcher!

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