The Master of Illusions Strikes!

Title: Spider-Man: Mysterio’s Menace
Platform: Game Boy Advance
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Vicarious Visions

Back in 2001, Vicarious Visions released Spider-Man: Mysterio’s Menace for the Game Boy Advance. This time around ol’ Webhead is taking on the master of illusions, Mysterio, who has enlisted the aid of many of Spidey’s nemeses in his quest to destroy the webslinger.

Right off the top of the game the thing that stands out is the story sequences. The storyline bits are hand-drawn comic book art that look fantastic and tell the story of Mysterio’s villainous plot against Spider-Man and the city of New York as it unfolds. The story is fairly solid, beginning with Mary Jane sending Peter Parker out to get her a fishbowl. Unfortunately for Peter, news reports of chaos all over the city start sprining up, and it looks like a job for Spider-Man. Spidey swings out to save the day and the battle begins.

Speaking of battles, the gameplay in Mysterio’s Menace is surprisingly good, considering the inherent difficulties in making Spider-Man operate in a way that does the character justice. Spidey can swing on weblines by double-tapping the A button, throw punches and kicks by hitting B, stick to walls, throw web-balls, snare villains in web-nets, and even spin a web-shield to protect himself from the onslaught of the game’s assorted goons, thugs, and super-powered ne’er-do-wells. The only issue I found with the controls cropped up when Spidey was on the side of a small platform, making it difficult to figure out which direction I needed to push to make Spidey go where I wanted him to. Other than that the controls are crisp, responsive, and well-done. The actual gameplay involves moving through multi-tiered levels thrashing goons and, in some cases, searching for stolen goods or switches that will allow you to move on. Each level ends with a boss fight against one of the members of the Spider-Man rogues gallery, including such luminaries as Electro, Rhino, Scorpion, and of course Mysterio, as well as lesser-known villains such as Hammerhead and Big Wheel. The boss battles are fun, but are either very easy or very hard, with not much middle ground. Scorpion and Mysterio, in particular, are very difficult opponents, while Hammerhead and Big Wheel are rediculously easy to defeat, since Spider-Man takes very little damage from most attacks.

The bold and colourful grahpics, which are especially cool during the story sequences, are also very good in-game. Spider-Man is big and easily recognizable, as are the boss-characters. The hired thugs employed by the super-powered psychopaths that make your life as Spider-Man difficult look good, although there isn’t a lot of variation in the appearances of each of enemy classes, which include basic thugs, clowns, skeletons, guys who may or may not be AIM Agents, and ninjas(probably Hand Ninjas, but that wasn’t made clear during the game). In a neat twist, Spidey can also pick up different versions of his suit, including Spider-Armour, which increases the webslinger’s health, and suits resistant to electricty and fire, all of which change Spidey’s appearance on-screen.

The sound in the game is good, the pinnacle of which I found to be the very satisfying “UGH!” noise that the bad guys make when they’re dispatched by the wallcrawler. The music in the game is nothing to sneeze at, though, and is reminiscent of the soundtrack to the old ’60s Spider-Man cartoons with some techno-style beats mixed in to create a new and groovy soundtrack for all your villain-thrashing needs. Hey, every vicious pummelling needs the proper musical accompanyment.

Mysterio’s Menace is a solid game with bold graphics and solid gameplay, but suffers from a major flaw: enemy attacks don’t to much damage to Spider-Man and there game isn’t that long. I managed to finish the game in under two hours the first time I played it, so be warned, an expert gamer will probably be able to beat it in less time. I definitely want to see a follow-up to this game, though, as more levels and more balanced difficulty in the boss fights would make it a GBA classic. Mysterio’s Menace is a great game while it lasts, and is enough fun that I want to go back and play it again, so Spider-Man: Mysterio’s Menace gets a 7/10.

The Hits and Misses
+ Great comic-book style graphics
+ Solid control
+ Includes lots of classic Spidey villains
– Unbalanced boss battles
– Could use more levels
– Some control issues while wallcrawling

One thought on “The Master of Illusions Strikes!”

  1. ive been playin with the idea of buying a gameboy advance, do you have any idea how much one costs? What the battery requirements are, what the average battery life is? The cost of games? Etc. Any ideas what so ever?

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