In Alien Spidy you are cast as an alien spider – because that totally makes sense – who has crash landed on Earth, and must now collect the various pieces of his destroyed space craft and… actually I’m going to stop right there, because this storyline is totally ridiculous and not actually worth reciting here.
Basically, in alien spider form you must navigate a wide variety of platform-based levels with the primary objective being to get from start to finish. Along the way you will collect orbs that give you points, and at the end of each level your point score is tallied. The more points you earn in a level, the more stars you get at the end, and you’re supposed to feel all warm and fuzzy when you get the maximum number of stars at the end of each level.
Of course, the idea of having to earn as many points as you can in a single level is not a new one. From Pac-Man and Space Invaders, right through to the likes of Angry Birds, there is no denying that it’s a system that has resonated with millions of gamers over the years. Having said that, it’s not something I have ever really gotten into. Naturally, this is a preference thing, and if you are the type of gamer who does get excited about earning the maximum number of stars per level, then there is a lot to do here. If not, well, it’s still relatively enjoyable, although there’s not very much to the experience.
The levels themselves are quite well designed, and present a wide variety of interesting and often quite frustrating challenges. Most obstacles are designed to lower your score, and there are even certain orbs which take away points from you. Of course, every time you die you lose points as well, so it really is all about points farming. The power-ups add a welcome level of enjoyment to the game. From receiving massive jumping powers, to the ability to run super fast, to those which give you air bubbles that allow you to breathe underwater, there are a host of surprisingly creative varieties.
Luckily even ALIEN spiders are able to shoot spider-webs, and this is a core component of the game design. Using the right thumb stick, you can shoot a web and then swing from it. Most of the orbs that you will feel compelled to collect will require you to fire your web and then use momentum to swing out and grab it. Later on in the game, your web-slinging capabilities become vital to your basic survival, requiring you to swing over precariously placed death traps. There is very little margin for error in many of these instances, and often the controls just don’t feel precise enough, considering what is expected of you.
There are an impressive 69 levels to play in Alien Spidy, although I don’t imagine that the game will hold the attention of most gamers long enough to get through even the majority of those. Some of the levels are frustratingly difficult, and although checkpoints are usually liberally scattered, you will often find yourself replaying certain parts, which after a few hours becomes tedious.
Earlier I said that the points system is what will make Alien Spidy a compelling experience for many. For gamers like myself who do not see the appeal of replaying a level over and over again to achieve the highest score possible, there is less fun to be had here. Furthermore, the game is broken up into three sections: Forest, Pond and Caves. Unfortunately, the only way to proceed between the different sections is to earn the maximum points on every preceding level, which inevitably involves a lot of replaying, which is not everyone’s cup of tea.
Alien Spidy is ultimately an extremely average platformer. It doesn’t do anything clever or interesting to elevate it above the hoards of similar games currently available on Xbox LIVE, which makes it difficult to recommend.