If you’re a fan of old-school Contra, Spidersaurs will be right up your alley. This run ‘n’ gun title takes the formula of Contra and adds some flair to make for a unique experience. And if you’re looking for a challenge, Spidersaurs is definitely for you.
The game opens with a fun intro set to an upbeat rock song in the style of a ‘90s Saturday morning cartoon. The story is just as quirky as those early morning cartoons, too. In the not-so-distant future, the food supply has run low due to solar flares and overpopulation. A billionaire scientist decides to develop a dinosaur/spider crossbreed that will provide enough meat to feed the world. What could possibly go wrong? Well, a lot, and that’s where the protagonists come in, to keep the Spidersaurs from escaping and killing mankind (and saving the company’s image in the process).
You select between two characters; Adrian, a police officer in training, and Victoria, a guitar-wielding punk rocker. Both characters are brilliantly voice-acted, and each has a very distinct characterization – Adrian feels to be more of a jock-type character, a little bit of a loveable lunk, whose weapons revolve around sports themes, whereas Victoria gives off a snarky vibe and uses her guitar to shoot projectiles. But it’s not just the main characters that are well designed and voice-acted; the game is entirely voice-acted and brilliantly animated, which makes it feel like you’re playing a cartoon.
The gameplay is straightforward. You can run, duck, and aim your weapon either straight forward, up, down, or at 45-degree angles, reminiscent of Contra. Also similar to Contra is the weapon upgrades. As you play through the levels, containers fly by that you can shoot down to gain different attacks, ranging from spread guns to electric-shock projectiles. You can carry two different types of weapons and switch between them by using the top shoulder button. And (as long as you don’t die), you can improve your attack if you collect the same type of weapon.
One distinctive difference between Contra and Spidersaurs is your special abilities after boss fights. After beating a boss, it’ll drop a large chunk of meat, and consuming it will provide you with additional powers; examples include double jump, clinging to walls, and shooting a web out of your back so you can attach to walls and platforms above you. And the levels are designed so that you’ll need to use the newly discovered abilities as you traverse the next course.
Each level is a different setting and provides you with some interesting gameplay. One of my favorite levels is the jungle world. You start by riding a raptor as you shoot your way out of the area. It’s fast and provides a fun experience that’s unlike the rest of the game. Most of the time, you’re jumping on platforms, dodging bullets from enemies, and defeating distinct bosses.
Speaking of bosses, there are two bosses in each level; a mini-boss found about halfway through the level and the final boss. The final enemies in each area are larger than life and will require you to learn their patterns to defeat them. Defeating the mini-boss acts like a checkpoint and allows you to continue from that point when you lose all your lives.
And you will die. The game is fairly difficult. You have three health containers, and getting hit by an enemy or its projectiles will take away one of those pieces of health. And you’ll need to pay attention to a lot going on in the game. One of my least favorite aspects is that the enemies’ bullets can go through walls; however, your projectiles cannot. That resulted in several of my deaths, thinking I was safe from where I was standing when, in fact, I was not.
It’s a side-scrolling game, and similar to Contra, you can’t backtrack. There are also times when you are progressing upwards, and the bottom of the screen scrolls up, and you can’t go back. A few times, when I was standing on platforms that I couldn’t see, it made it difficult to know where I was supposed to go next. These moments weren’t often, but I found them frustrating and challenging.
To find out more about Spidersaurs, make sure you check out our interview with WayForward in the latest issue of Pure Nintendo Magazine!
Review: Spidersaurs (Nintendo Switch)
Spidersaurs is a beautiful homage to a bygone era of over-the-top ‘90s cartoons and challenging platformers. The game does enough to make it feel distinct from similar games, adding in special abilities and beautiful art and voice acting. The game is a challenging yet short experience. If you are a fan of Contra, you won’t be disappointed.