Locomotion and Momentum in “Spider-Man 2”

Saying that Spider-Man 2’s web-swinging is loved sells it short. In 2004, Treyarch struck gold. To date, it is the most visceral and enjoyable incarnation of Spidey’s unique movement that I have experienced. Unlike many Spider-Man games before and after Spider-Man 2, Treyarch created a way to web-swing that forced Spidey’s webs to attach to solid objects while also conserving his momentum between swings. Combined with a wide range of control over Spider-Man’s movement and jump height, it creates an organic, high skill cap form of movement throughout the recreation of Manhattan.

Demonstration of a variety of Spider-Man’s techniques. Credits and thanks to creator.

Subsequent games struggle to recreate this level of control. Increased presentation values can sometimes make contemporary web-swinging look better, but they often lack other key components of Spider-Man 2’s engine, such as collision for webs, even while they borrow other aspects. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a prime example of this. While they do borrow one of Spider-Man 2’s lauded features and force your web to attach to physical buildings, they do not employ collision for the web itself. At 1:08 of this developer playthrough, Spider-Man launches a web that lands somewhere above the tunnel entrance, but he swings through the tunnel in a straight line. In Spider-Man 2, your web would catch and bend on the upper lip of the entrance, sending you straight into the roof.

Recently, I finally stumbled across another copy of Spider-Man 2. I bought it without hesitation. When returning to old games, I’m always hesitant, unsure whether some aspect of gameplay that I loved was either actually good or nostalgia. It delighted me to see that the web-swinging lived up to memory.

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On “Xenoblade Chronicles”

Back at Christmas, I finally received Xenoblade Chronicles. I had spent a lot of time looking for it and despite seeing it online a few times, I never ponied up for the cash. I was pretty excited to finally play it. It’s hailed as an evolution of the JRPG genre, a breath of fresh air from the perceived static Japanese development scene, and hours upon hours of gameplay.

Is it all its cracked up to be? Is it the next step for JRPGs? Is it their equivalent of Christ’s second coming?

Sorta.

I’ll try to keep this light on spoilers, but as always, be warned.

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