Alien Spidy has a protagnist that represents a lot of what I can’t stand in gaming. A character with no ability or endurance, that isn’t developed because the genre has no need but also isn’t in any shape or form fun to play as. The Alien aspect of the Alien Spider is not necessary. This spider, like any other, is murdered by spikes, colliding with enemies, and drops of water. The spider’s only ability is to swing on webs it shoots that attach to objects most of the time. Essentially he is a spider that can perform sweet webswings instead of having to slowly spin a web, these are the only differences between our hero and a real spider. The problem with this is it turns every level into a race of avoiding obstacles and hoping the web swinging connects with the ceiling or branch your aiming at.
In each level you are graded by the high score you can run up which is determined through how fast you ran through the course, how little you had to be respawned, and the combos you racked up. You rack up combos by collecting a set of glowing green objects in quick succession or racking up ten in a row. This generally means multiple runs to learn courses but even then the game is very picky about handing out points. Did I mention you constantly lose points? Even if you stay alive if you aren’t gaining points you’ll be losing them. There are better ways to focus a gamer on speed running than blatant punishment.
The level design in Alien Spidy actually is pretty good. There are levels that don’t flow at all but the majority of levels have a flow to it that you can see running together like something Rayman Origins would offer for a speed run. Enemies slow this all down because the spider has no momentum. The swing physics when on a web line work as you would expect them too but without that the spider moves oddly, especially in the air. A jump to the right becomes floaty and outright weird when the spider suddenly stops moving forward and drops. This makes the simple rolling enemies a pain to deal with cause you can easily land into them, lose points, and have to redo a section. What is also pretty weird is once you land with the spider you can’t immediately jump again which some levels will ask when jumping between two rolling enemies that would surely crush you as the spider staggers before he can jump again. This also becomes an issue anytime your asked to platform in succession instead of swinging, at least the swinging doesn’t kill momentum.
Each level of Alien Spidy only runs a few minutes so you might worry about length when their are three worlds to play through. Don’t worry though by the time you get through three levels you’ll quickly realize you don’t want it to go on forever. Alien Spidy feels miscast on the Xbox Live Arcade, and feels more like an iOS title that was just complicated enough to need a controller. Alien Spidy is far from the worst Xbox Live has to offer but it’s one of those titles like Novadrome, Happy Tree Friends, or MLB Bobblehead Pros that has issues, is still playable, but completely forgettable.
What We Loved:
- Swinging sections work pretty well and show promise
- The spider has a kirby-esque victory dance at the end of levels
What We Hated:
- The spider has issues with momentum when jumping or landing
- Everything kills the spider