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Long before Insomniac Games or Treyarch created vast open world New York cities for us to swing around in and live out our spidery dreams, Neversoft's Spider-Man was the definitive wall-crawling adventure - one packed with charm, humour, and a clear love for the source material.
Released back in 2000 for the original PlayStation, N64, and Dreamcast, Spider-Man was one of the first 3D superhero games to hit the market. In fact if you don't count Superman 64 (which you shouldn't because it sucked) Spider-Man was the first to prove that comic book action could work in a 3D space.
The game is nearly two decades old at this point, so it probably goes without saying that it hasn't aged perfectly. The web-swinging and combat pale in comparison to Insomniac's fluid 2018 release, because of course they do, but return to Spider-Man and you might be pleasantly surprised to find that it still holds up pretty damn well.
Neversoft managed to create a game that, while obviously held back by technical constraints and the fact that nobody had ever done what they were doing, offered a robust and immersive Spider-Man experience.
You could swing between buildings, climb walls, combine a variety of web-based attacks, and do battle with some of the webhead's most popular enemies, including Venom, Carnage, and Doctor Octopus. It was also a really, genuinely, consistently funny game that nailed Spidey's sense of humour.
In other words, this was the perfect Spider-Man game for fans of Peter Parker, regardless of age, and a game that most of us look back on fondly - including some of those who worked on the title at the time, despite certain difficulties during development.
"It definitely did come with some fairly large obstacles," former Neversoft developer and Spider-Man Lead Designer Chad Findley told me over email recently.
"Doing a full 3D city was one big one
in particular - hence the story point that has the ground level of the city being fogged out. We just couldn't pull off a full 3D city with pedestrians and vehicles as our first outing."
"Wall crawling on real architectural surfaces was another - we got a good pass at wall crawling done and thought, great! But then real buildings and rooms were getting built with weird angles and tight surfaces, and the lead programmer, Dave Cowling, had to tackle that too. Fortunately he's a super smart dude and developed a secondary 'small surface' wall crawling mode that allowed us to keep moving forward."
Regardless of these problems, we know the team at Neversoft were ultimately able to overcome them and release a game that was well-received by critics and gamers alike. Findley - himself a huge Spidey fan - told me that he has pretty much nothing but good memories of his time working on Spider-Man.
"This was before the super-high costs and razor-thin margins of big projects today," he explained. "Before all-things-money was running every decision, and therefore it was exactly what one would hope it would be like! It was fantastic.
"Especially for a comic nerd like me - and I was a Spidey fan in particular. I got to include most of the characters we wanted, we got to add our what-if mode for tons of other cameos, and I got to voice direct Stan Lee!"
Given that Findley clearly had such a good time working on Spider-Man, and given the fact that I genuinely count this particular game among my favourite titles to this day, I can't help but ask in the spite of the numerous reasons it could probably never happen; would he ever want to work on a remaster or remake of the game?
"While I would initially be reticent because of the nightmarish licensing and approval processes that are around these days... I absolutely would do it," he tells me.
"I love Spider-Man. It was such a great, nerdy character with stories that always have positive messages and themes while also still being exciting and fun. Stuff we need these days."
For now, gamers looking for a modern Spider-Man fix can dive into Insomniac's 2018 adventure, which Findley has played and thinks was "fantastic" in the way it "embraced Spidey themes." I'm inclined to agree. I gave Marvel's Spider-Man a rave-review when it launched last year, calling it the greatest Spider-Man game of all time, and possibly the best superhero game to date.
Still though, there's something about the irreverent, unashamedly comic-booky way in which 2000's Spider-Man handled the character and world that makes me wonder what a Crash Bandicoot/Spyro-style remaster could look like in 2020, nightmarish licensing and approval processes be damned.
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