previews\ Sep 3, 2012 at 9:00 am

Alien Spidy updated impressions


Last week, publisher Kalypso invited me to take a look at an updated build of Alien Spidy. I previously played the game at E3, and I found it to be quite the charming 2D platformer. The gameplay was fairly challenging, delivering a level of difficulty reminiscent of a classic era in gaming. Now, though, the game has received some polish and refinements so as to deliver a much more satisfying experience. Because Alien Spidy is due out in just a matter of months, I was glad to see that some great improvements had been made to what was already an enjoyable game.

You play as the titular Spidy, whose spacecraft crash lands on Earth as he's searching for his friend. Stranded on a strange planet, it's up to Spidy to find his buddy and look for a way back home. This plot sets you up for a series of gorgeous levels rife with enemies, obstacles, power-ups, and collectibles.

Alien Spidy - 360 - 1

As Spidy, you can shoot web to latch onto different things around your environment. For example, if you jump off a platform and don't fancy falling into a bunch of deadly thorns, you can shoot web onto the roof of a cave or other structure using the X button or left analog stick and swing across that nasty obstacle. The web controls do take a bit of getting used to, but once you get the hang of how to control Spidy and his web, it all becomes second nature.

Of course, getting the hang of the controls and mastering the game are two separate things. Orbs are scattered everywhere, and if you're the type of gamer who likes to tally up a high score, you're going to want to collect as many as possible. Orbs are placed in distinct patterns so that you can latch onto something with your web, swing, and collect them as you go. Your timing needs to be as perfect as possible so that you can swing in just the right direction and snag those sweet collectibles. Just stay away from the red orbs, as those will actually lower your score.

Speaking of red, that color often indicates things you might want to stay away from. Red enemies and flowers will kill you on contact, and navigating around these perils requires quick reflexes and a steady hand. Luckily, Alien Spidy features a forgiving checkpoint system, so even if you meet your demise, you won't have to start a level over from the beginning. The only time you're allowed to touch something red is when you encounter a red berry. This item usually signifies that there's an obstacle, such as a large creature, in the way. By touching the red berry, you'll trigger an event that clears the way for your passage.

Alien Spidy - 360 - 2

I spent a bit of time playing a couple of levels, and I noticed that the game's controls had been fine-tuned since E3. The controls for shooting web are more responsive, as is actually swinging from the web. Spidy's jumps are also tighter, which is certainly excellent considering this is a platformer.

Upon clearing levels, I immediately wanted to go on to the next challenge. Alien Spidy is an inviting game that makes you want to keep playing. And because it features that addicting orb collection element, I can imagine that completionists will want to revisit levels and perform nearly flawless runs to rack up those high scores and receive the highest star rating possible in every stage.

Alien Spidy - 360 - 3

I can't talk about Alien Spidy without discussing just how gorgeous it looks. The game already looked spectacular at E3, featuring an incredible use of color and beautiful backgrounds, and I was told that some improvements were made to the overall presentation since then. Specifically, I noticed how much smoother the frame rate was. I was glad to see that this had been addressed, and the combination of lush visuals and faster performance really made the game look even prettier.

After seeing Alien Spidy in action and playing the updated demo for myself, I noticed just how much the game really shines as a throwback to the retro platformers that forced you to think fast and act faster. It's refreshing how this title requires you to have a constant sense of awareness, all the while being a sheer joy to play. If you dig 2D platformers and are a sucker for highly challenging yet inviting gameplay, be on the lookout for Alien Spidy. The game will launch digitally on Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, PC, and Mac on October 19 and will sport a $9.99 price tag. I'll see ya on the leaderboards.

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David Sanchez David Sanchez is the most honest man on the internet. You can trust him because he speaks in the third person.
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