Spidersaurs Review

Gaming
7.5

Good

Spidersaurs

Developer: WayForward
Publisher: WayForward
Platforms: Switch, Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC, Playstation 5, Xbox Series X|S (Reviewed)
Release Date: July 14, 2022
Price: $19.99 USD – Available Here

Overview

When it comes to WayForward players never quite know what they will be working on next. Their line-up of titles cover a wide range of unique titles and throwbacks to classic genres with modern elements. This includes the likes of River City Girls, the Shantae series, and even Contra 4 back in 2007 and now the team has taken their experience and created a strange mash-up of 80s/90s cartoon stylization with run-and-gun shooting in the form of Spidersaurs. Originally released as an Apple Arcade exclusive back in 2019 this shooter has arrived on modern platforms but has it made the jump well enough to be worthwhile?

Story

Set in a near future where solar flares and overpopulation have ruined the world’s food supply, a gene modification company known as InGest has taken the opportunity to solve the food shortage the best way they know how, by creating genetically modified food that can be grown in a lab. Of course any basic food would be boring so InGest went all out by mixing dinosaur DNA with that of insects to create Spidersaurs, an apparently delicious and dangerous combination that just like always, eventually goes wrong.

When the Spidersaurs break out of the lab and start wreaking havoc within the company it is up to two freshly hired interns in the form of the indie rockstar Victoria and cop-in-training Adrian to put them down. Thankfully not only are these two desperate for money, they also have begun to develop unique abilities by consuming so much of the genetically modified food making them perfect for the job.

Spidersaurs plays the comedy card hard and it works in its favor with plenty of little references to other properties that involve bringing dinosaurs back to life. The actual plot is incredibly straightforward with only small bits of dialogue changes depending on which character players are using while playing through a stage though it does have a unique little twist at the end as the console release of the game has now seen the addition of a true ending and final boss to face off against that expands upon the story a little bit more but doesn’t expand the game from being a little over two hours long. 

Gameplay

It becomes quite clear as soon as players start making their way through Spidersaurs that WayForward is putting their skills from Contra 4 to good use here as the title plays incredibly close to that series. Players will run through a stage while platforming as needed to avoid hazards all while shooting down creatures and obtaining weapon pick-ups by shooting down flying drones. While their movement options are the same Victoria and Adrian’s weaponry couldn’t be more different from one another. While Victoria uses her modified guitar to blast enemies and has weapon upgrades that fires wall piercing lasers, shotgun blasts, and more while Adrian’s baseball launcher upgrades to a flamethrower or ricochet shot that spawns extra projectiles after hitting anything. These weapons can be upgraded to a second level should players pick up the same weapon drop though it will immediately be downgraded when damage is taken.

Of course another element that remains true in Spidersaurs is a fairly brutal level of difficulty that can be frustrating at times, especially during sequences that force players to traverse hazard filled areas while the camera forces upward or downward progression. To make these sequences worse, while players can take three hits from enemies and hazards before losing a life, falling off screen results in an immediate death. There are some factors that help with the difficulty a bit and that happens to be newly added mid-level checkpoints. These are situated after the mid-boss of any given level and allow players to load up a level or revive halfway through a stage with all of their lives intact. Another aspect is the ability to select between three difficulty options but it is worth noting that if players beat the game on the easy difficulty they cannot access the new final stage and true ending.

As far as enemies go Spidersaurs features a solid variety of standard creatures for players to face off against as well as a mantis-like creature that will attack when players stand still too long. The best time that the game shines however happens to be the various mid-bosses and bosses for most stages. Only a few of these bosses are fairly predictable while most others feature some unique challenge or twist to keep things feeling fresh and challenging.

One unique aspect that sets Spidersaurs apart from WayForward’s previous run-and-gun work is the ability to gain various genetic upgrades from defeating bosses. Anytime a boss is defeated players are rewarded with a nice chunk of meat that unlocks abilities such as wall climbing, double jumping, and more to help make players feel more mobile and navigate the stages that they will face in the future with a few extra attacks as well. It is possible to return to old stages with these upgrades but for the most part they do not offer much in the way of extra exploration and often certain upgrades feel like they feel like they come too late to be useful outside of their specific stage.

Once the fairly short story mode is completed players will unlock two additional modes in the form of a time trial that will immediately unlock all genetic mutations and have players rush against the clock to rank on the leaderboards as well as an arcade mode that is literally just the story mode minus all character interactions. It is disappointing that, outside of the story and co-op play, the game is fairly barebones especially since the title feels like it would be a perfect fit for a boss rush mode at least.

Visuals & Audio

Once again WayForward has shown just how amazing their team is when it comes to providing games with a unique aesthetic as Spidersaurs feels like it captures the style of 90s cartoons perfectly including an opening cinematic right out of a Saturday morning cartoon line-up. The character and enemy designs are fantastic with a solid amount of variety while boss designs are splendid to look at and although some levels can get a bit busy looking and occasionally distracting, they are nicely designed all the same.

Every line of dialogue in the game is voiced by a solid voice cast and while fighting against a boss, the characters will occasionally chime up to alert players that certain attacks are coming and help telegraph them a bit more. Spidersaurs also boasts an incredible sounding set of background music composed by the veteran Harumi Fujita through the various stages alongside its fitting opening theme.

Overall

Spidersaurs offers some challenging, and occasionally frustrating, run and gun gameplay that Contra fans will feel right at home with and in classic WayForward fashion the team has managed to put enough unique elements in to make the game stand out. Between the unique cartoon aesthetic, ridiculous premise, and solid gameplay Spidersaurs may be a bit short and lacking in extra features but offers its own twist on a genre that needs as much revitalization as possible.

Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.

Summary

Spidersaurs may be short and lack content outside of story mode but its colorful cartoon stylings and solid run and gun gameplay make it a great twist on the classic genre.
7.5

Good

After playing games since a young age and getting into anime a bit later on its been time to write about a little bit of everything.

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