Spider-Man: Friend or Foe Review
Game Informer magazine recently ran an op-ed piece entitled, “In Defense Of Short Games” in which one of the magazine’s contributors made the argument that games don’t have to last more than 50-100 hours to be good. While I usually don’t care for Game Informer’s opinions, this short editorial really stuck with me. Games are constantly blasted for being “too short,” but more often than not, it is the overly long games that become the object of my scorn. Similarly, overly complicated games are often more vexing than simpler ones. Some of my favorite games of all time are about as simple and short as games get. Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!!! doesn’t have online multiplayer or any unlockable content, but I’ll continue to play and replay the game as I have for the past 20 years or so. I’m sure I’ll be taking swings at Soda Popinski from my chair in the nursing home, years and years after the gaming public has forgotten all about Halo and Grand Theft Auto (Madden games will still be coming out once a year… and it will be almost identical to this year’s version!).
So, bearing in mind that short, simple games aren’t always a bad thing, Spider-Man: Friend or Foe for the Nintendo Wii still isn’t very good. While there is a lot wrong with the game overall, I can’t side with other, harsher reviews of FoF – there are a few very positive things going on with this title. Since the bad outweighs the good, we’ll leave ole’ Spidey’s more positive aspect until the end of the review. Let’s start with what makes Spider-Man: Friend or Foe offensive to not only fans of the Spider-Man feature films, but long-time Spider-Man comic book fans as well (this reviewer falls into both categories).
Spider-Man: Friend or Foe’s premise and style should be the first warning to hardcore Spider-Man fans. For this game, Spider-Man and his enemies have been transformed into pseudo-anime versions of themselves and thrown into a conflict between Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. and some space robots that can control minds and look suspiciously like Venom. Now, I’ve been through some serious leaps of faith with Spider-Man in the past (the clone saga, Eric Foreman from “That 70’s Show” as Venom, Peter Parker’s hilarious mid-70’s views on drug abuse during the Capt. Stacy saga, etc.), but Friend or Foe asks long-time fans to swallow a serious line of tripe which serves as a lazy excuse to team up Spider-Man with his most popular foes.
The good news is that the game is aimed at younger Spider-Man fans who more than likely won’t question the story’s validity and plot holes that border on insanity (Harry Osborn is the “New Goblin” from the third Spider-Man film, yet Green Goblin, his supposedly dead father, is alive, well and still has access to Oscorp’s weapons and gadgets… what?). The game doesn’t just stop with tailoring the story for the younger set; the gameplay also has its sights set on the attention spans of 8-year-olds. Friend or Foe is, at its core, a simple yet mildly enjoyable beat ‘em up adventure. There isn’t a gamer on the planet that will have a problem breezing through this very easy game, and chances are their younger siblings won’t have too tough a time either.