Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions
It's amazing the number of Marvel universes featuring alternate versions of famous superheroes there are: for Spider-Man alone, there's the Ultimate, Spider-Girl, Marvel Adventures, 2099, Noir, Marvel Zombies, Marvel Apes, Peter Porker/Spider-Ham, Manga, and India versions, to name a few. With so much to adapt and keep track of, there isn't sufficient time for those responsible for licensed products to deal with such continuities. Fortunately, the cross-platform release Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions on the Wii, PlayStation 3, X-Box 360, PC, and, of course, Nintendo DS, tackles several of these universes - including the primary one - in one go. Griptonite took the reins for the handheld version, as is only appropriate; while Daniel X: The Ultimate Power was a competent effort, Griptonite's 2.5D engine was literally made for Spider-Man. With Shattered Dimensions, Griptonite shakes up the open-world platforming formula with multiple Spideys where they failed in employing a completely different character. The result isn't a monumental departure from Web of Shadows, this perhaps for the best.
While battling Mysterio, Spider-Man uses his webbing to yank at a stone tablet in his hand, separating it into several pieces which then disappear into dimensional portals, as does Mysterio. Madam Web appears to inform Parker that the object was the Tablet of Order and Chaos which holds reality in check; Mysterio plans to use it to shape his own all-consuming reality, and it's up to Amazing Spider-Man and his counterparts from two other dimensions, Noir Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2099, to stop him. Amazing Spider-Man, who lives in the prime Marvel universe, is the jokester everyone knows and loves while Noir, living in the dark Marvel Noir setting, is decidedly darker and 2099, who lives in an unlikely dystopian future, cockier. The Spider-Men's dialogue and snappy retorts are even funnier than those in Web of Shadows, and the voice acting is excellent on all ends - including fantastic opening and closing narration by Stan Lee. Connecting a multiverse usually leads to a convoluted story, but this case stays true to each universe and justifies them coming together.
The player starts out as Amazing Spider-Man in the main universe, then takes control of Noir in an alternate 1930s, after which Miguel O'Hara/Spider-Man 2099 in his futuristic world is playable, and, having re-visited each dimension a couple times, finally ends the journey in Mysterio's personally-created dimension as Amazing again. Each Spider-Man starts out with some sort of trademark strength as well as an obvious shortcoming: Amazing can spin webs and wall-crawl, Noir can kick off of walls and reveal secrets in a given location, and 2099 can glide on air currents. 'A' has a Spidey shoot webbing, 'B' jump, 'Y' attack, 'X' interacts with object, 'L' reveal the true nature of things in the face of Mysterio's trickery, and 'R' dodge attacks. The offensive and defensive combos are still varied and bring much depth to the brawling that the game entails. There are a number of abilities to be collected, and these can be earned by defeating bosses and entering inter-dimensional conduits to fight hordes of baddies and update a given Spider-Man's abilities with abilities from his counterparts. Said abilities include: Web Swing, which allows the titular talk-backer to swing from a web and is activated upon a second press of 'B' after jumping; Web Zip, which enables him to shoot a web while in mid-air and pull himself towards ceilings and walls and requires a press of 'A' while in mid-air; Wall Jump, which has him kick off of walls and is activated by pushing 'B' when in contact with them; Wall Crawl, which requires that Spider-Man jump onto surfaces and lets him follow any smooth path, be it up walls or under ceilings; Enhanced Perception, Reveal Secrets, and Enemy Detection, which upon pressing 'L' reveal hittable objects, hidden switches, and distant enemies, respectively; Glide, which with a press of 'L' mid-air lets a Spidey drift across great gaps; Hammer Slam, which has him slam down onto the ground, hurting enemies and destroying floor barriers, and is activated by pressing 'Down' and 'A' in mid-air; Reinforced Web, which let a Peter or a Miguel tear out barriers on walls with his webbing; Shatter Illusion, which when 'L' is pressed reveals hidden power-ups; Resistant Web, by which his web can come into contact with electrical currents without breaking; and Spider Dash, which lets Spider-Man build up speed by running for a distance until he can destroy just about anything in his way. No, most of the abilities are nothing new to Spider-Man games, but it's cool having several versions of the character who start off with different strengths and weakness but who come to grow by gradually learning abilities from one another. Beyond these abilities, there are 7 tablet fragments, 20 health upgrades, 10 damage upgrades, 11 offense upgrades, and 11 defense upgrades.
Bosses are much more varied here, each being based on an iconic Marvel super villain, or at least a version of him or her. Many of them have unique fight patterns and require that the player not rely on the usual web-wrap and chain-combo hit routine, so pervasive as this was in Griptonite's first game featuring the character. In order to get from zone to zone, a touch screen-based warp challenge must be completed. Somewhat similar to Web of Shadows's revival challenge, one must spin a piece of the Tablet of Order and Chaos repeatedly by encircling it with the stylus to build up one's gauge while frequently poking at inter-dimensional beings and holding the stylus for a few seconds on grabby green hands to eliminate them and ensure they don't attack the tablet. These challenges can get annoying, and they make the interconnected world feel less seamless, but are an appropriate use of the touch screen that doesn't interfere with the platforming itself.
All-new to this outing are two extra modes; Time Trial, which counts the player's run on the upper right-hand corner (perfect for speed runs), and Boss Rush, which appropriately pits the different Spider-Men against the game's various bosses and times how long it takes to beat them all. There are also 22 timed challenges, which either require a seasoned web-slinger make use of an ability of his to complete a course or fight a number of enemies until all are defeated. As if the characters don't get powered-up enough over the course of the game, completing these challenges unlock Unstoppable Mode, which renders the Spideys nigh-invincible. These are fun additions to a conventional main mode which has been done before for the most part.
The graphics and music are pretty standard Griptonite fare. The three-dimensional graphics on a two-dimensional plane aren't overly detailed, but they sure benefit from the extra universes: Noir looks like an older Noir film, and 2099 has a Tron-like feel to it. The Spider-Men look strikingly different from one another, but animate just as fluidly. Beyond this, there are some cool aspects not present in Web of Shadows or Daniel X, like a misty effect that appears most noticeably in the Noir world. The camera zooms in and out as appropriate, and the music is cinematic and epic as always. There really is a feeling that one is playing a well-directed action movie, a feat rarely achieve in sidescrollers.
Griptonite doesn't fundamentally alter the Web of Shadows formula, but they provide a satisfying change of pace rather than rehashing the whole thing like they did with Daniel X. Playing as other Spider-Men in their respective universes is fun, though warping from one to another is irksome. The extras also add replay value to an otherwise short experience.
The company's next effort in the style would again be based around a different character, their run on Spider-Man at its end.