Review: Spidersaurs



WayForward sure as hell knows how to sell a game.

With a cartoon intro that looks straight out of the '80s/early '90s as-is, downloading Spidersaurs on the Apple Arcade is an easy ask. It doesn't fully execute that lovely premise, but it sure tries.

Spidersaurs review

Spidersaurs (iOS)
Developer: WayForward
Publisher: WayForward
Released: September 19, 2019
MSRP: Part of Apple Arcade ($4.99 a month)

When I heard that the Contra 4 team was working on a Saturday morning cartoon-themed platformer, I couldn't hit "download" quick enough. That surge of energy, like I was drinking an actual can of the classic drink Surge, waned over time but the theme remained constantly entertaining.

You don't need to think too hard on this one: there's evil dinosaur/spider creatures wreaking havoc and you need to stop them. As in dino-spiders, mixed together into gross chimeras. Spidersaurs is fully voiced, and the performances are just as lovely as the character art. There's enough kooky personality to go around, skirting the line between anime and Hanna-Barbera. It's a wonderful place to be. But when you actually get in-game it cheapens the effect a bit with very stiff character models and lifeless backgrounds, which is even more evident when it's blown up on an Apple TV.

It really is a take on Contra. There's swappable weapons that operate a lot like the standard and spread shots (among other devices) of old, but with a slight cartoony twist (a baseball gun and marble-like bouncing projectiles, respectively). If you're hit, you lose that weapon. You get a generous three hits before you lose a life, and three lives before it's "game over." WayForward is known for using old-school conventions and this is no different.

While most of the weapons lack punch or impact, they do work well enough mechanically. It's the platforming that I'm constantly frustrated by, especially when the camera loses my character entirely due to a missed jump: without triggering a lost life, or...anything really. You get the climbing skill very early on which opens up the level designs, but it's not executed well, and this is accounting for the use of a proper controller.

Similarly, enemy layouts are often uninspired and, when killed, explode into a droll ball of goo. I really couldn't describe most of the bosses by memory (with the exception of a few, like a snide recurring miniboss) because they exited it immediately after I battled them. See that vehicle section above? It's slow, rote, and repeats the same few enemy cycles. Things do pick up from mission-to-mission, but the game is too brief to be starved for ideas.

Spidersaurs is only worth a short afternoon as part of the Apple Arcade's festivities, but I actually wouldn't mind seeing this crew again in the slightest. With tighter control on the engine and more refined mechanics, this could end up being one of the stronger Contra sendups in recent memory, alongside of Blazing Chrome.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game through an Apple Arcade subscription purchased by the reviewer.]

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Spidersaurs reviewed by Chris Carter



Slightly above average or simply inoffensive. Fans of the genre should enjoy it a bit, but a fair few will be left unfulfilled.
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Chris Carter
Chris CarterReviews Director, Co-EIC   gamer profile

Chris has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step, make an account, and start blogging in January of 2009. Now, he's staff! ------------------- T... more + disclosures



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