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Review – Spider-Man: Friend or Mere Acquaintance

posted on March 12th, 2008 by zenstrabo

In another installment in my untimely series on finding something to hate while surrounded by the best games in years, here’s another look at games that ate shit in 2007.

Until recently, the Spider-Man franchise had been the only comic book license that somewhat translated into an enjoyable gaming experience. Next Level Games, a company that specializes in cramming a licensed properties into games that have nothing to do with the license they are based on, must have won some sort of raffle to be awarded the development of Friend or Foe. Any company that works solely in licensed games is going to suck worse than a circus put on by disabled veterans. Anyone who tells you different is Next Level Games.

Now That's Amore!

With hands full of cash and laps full of stripper, Next Level Games didn’t waste time on relating this game to the movie or even comic when they had already developed what I can only assume would have been called Mario Strikers Love Corndogs if Nintendo had called them first. Five seconds after putting the disk on, you can tell how much time they spent playing face pong with Vancouver’s titties for hire instead of working on this game. Their own logos as well as the, Wow-did-I-just-pop-a-boner-Official-Movie-Merchandise logo aren’t even high resolution, but rather downloaded via cellphone from the champagne room and slapped into the game’s opening credits.

However, Spider-Man Friend or Foe represents advancement in videogame technology beyond any that I could have imagined in my lifetime. This game uses a highly sophisticated monotony calibration that caused my Xbox360 to sprout a peripheral (Microsoft proprietary, of course) which grabbed me by the neck, turned me around, thrust my face into the couch and shot the disk at my now vulnerable ass crack. The console, now equipped with Spiderman Friend or Foe speech technology, robotically chortled that if I wanted to play any more of this repetitious bullshit I should just call to mind the three mind-numbing hours of pressing X that we had already endured, adding something about, “more than just the CD,” if I ever tried out this game again.

Granted, it was an awful experience, (getting raped by the Xbox was pretty bad too) but you have to hand it to Next Level and Activision for such breakthrough technology. I had to put my 360 on eBay because I’ve sort of lived my life by this rule that I won’t split the rent with anyone (or thing) that’s either willing to rape me or has already done so. But, I have to admit the fucking thing was right to do what it did.

Proving that there is someone out there for you, Rocky Dennis.

The single best thing about Spider-Man is that he’s never been dragged down to the New York City Department of Children’s Welfare to answer questions about his underage male sidekick.

Because his sidekicks have all been hot chicks. Until now, apparently. For reasons not important enough to leave Hooters and write an explanation for; Spider-Man now teams up with his enemies and what looks like a couple of seriously fugly step sisters of the girls he used to hang out with. The Black Cat is practically the Grandmother of nipple-slip defying costumed women, and yet in this game she looks like an even more ape-faced Barbara Bush. The image to the left is an actual screen cap of Corky the Black Cat (and the low-res main character in this “Next-Gen” game.)

Please be sure she’s been hired for my bachelor party.

In 1996, congress passed the Fair Representation in Electronic Media Act that ensured all women who appeared in video games would conform to or exceed body proportions set by Lara Croft. How did the women in this game get left behind, rendered as shapely as a twelve year old boy? Because this law-breaking threat to our freedom came out of Canada, I guess. Why else would we be missing a chance at rotating an in-game camera around a costume that only zips to the navel?

I understand that this is a button masher, but a tournament of Hungry-Hungry Hippos has less repetitive gameplay. The reason for the excess is that before you can actually do whatever a spider does, you’ve got to punch every box, brick wall, rock, vase, and priceless artifact of a long dead civilization to find coins.

I fully expected to hear Spider-Man shout, “Eets-A-Me! Spidah- Mahn!” Perhaps Uncle Ben once said, “With great power comes the responsibility to vandalize everything around you.” Always one to interpret Uncle Ben’s words in a way that make his life more depressing, Spider-Man now finds himself punching more lamp posts than faces. At least the secret items that you have to find to get max erectile girth are hidden completely in the open. Saying that this is intentional because this game was intended for a younger audience is an insult to children. Two six year olds playing hide and seek in a completely empty room would have more trouble finding their objective than finding the trinkets in FoF.

Other “Least Hidden Secrets of the World.”

Big Daddy’s true intentions

Peter Parker’s “research”

Princess Peach’s fidelity

If you’ve always wanted to pretend that you are a game tester, this one’s full of broken level geometry and glitches. If you wanted a new drinking game, chug one every time something shows up on-screen that would make zero sense in the Marvel Universe. You’ll be dead from alcohol poisoning in twenty—three seconds.

Oh shit, and I almost forgot to mention… Superman64 was the worst fucking game ever.


  1. Stefan said on March 12, 2008:

    Excellent follow-up to an article bashing “The sophomoric humor and “huh huh she has boobs” mentality” of ZD’s writers :)

  2. jay said on March 12, 2008:

    Notice none of my complaints about ZD were “hypocrisy”.

    Each writer has a different style and while some of Zen’s jokes approach (or leap over) the college humor line, I don’t think it’s a site wide mentality. He also mocks the portrayal of women as hugely breasted in games, which puts him in feminist or at least non-misogynist territory.

    Other stock excuses –
    This is a blog.
    We clearly have always established ourselves as highly subjective and opinion focused.
    We don’t pretend to be journalists.
    We are unpaid.
    Shut up.

  3. TrueTallus said on March 12, 2008:

    Anyone willing to use a great hungry hungry hippos analogy is alright with me.

  4. Christian said on March 12, 2008:

    I like making fun of dateline!

  5. zenstrabo said on March 12, 2008:

    My priorities in writing articles are as follows:
    – Entertain myself
    – Once that’s been satisfied upon the publication of my article for masterlamer.com, entertain the dear readers of videolamer.com, by calling games, publishers and game reviewers mean names; admittedly with a few dick and balls jokes here and there.

    The priorities of ZD/ 1UP/ EGM?
    – cram more ads than any competitor into their publications

    Which is why they suck and we get to laugh when they take a kick in the teeth like the one Jay wrote about. Do I deserve the comparison? Not until someone who’s trying to move copies of Barbie vs. The Olsen Twins starts paying me to write dick and balls jokes. Seriously? They gave this game an “A” rating?! I gave it three Photoshopped cartoons about molestation, masturbation, and cartoon bestiality because it doesn’t deserve to exist much less a rating.

    And sophmoric? Really?! Are we REALLY worried about being intellectually pretentious yet immature when we’re talking about VIDEOGAMES? Let’s not get too far up our own asses about how much art there is in the single tear we shed for a burial next to our eight pixel wife whom we knew for three minutes and who never let us get around to brown town even once. I’m sure we could read plenty of conceited and serious articles about things that are actually important in our actual lives over at justregularlamer.com, but on this site we’re talking about a pastime that was founded on the idea that wow, I can make things move on my TV box, and how exciting we think it is to pretend we’re blowing up the shit out of shit in an underwater art deco world over-run by genetically modified uber-capitalists.

    Plus, we need a few cheap laughs in between calling our bosses a fuckhead to no one while taking an unauthorized break at work.

    Shut Up

  6. zenstrabo's conscience said on March 12, 2008:

    (grumble) however…Stefan, I did… sort of… enjoy your article (grumble) on Passage.

  7. GJ said on March 13, 2008:

    Your reviews are awesome because you pick such terrible games. I therefore challenge you sir, to review something that isn’t a pile of licensed crap, and make me laugh as hard as I did reading this.

  8. Shota said on March 13, 2008:

    I am wholeheartedly with GJ. I have throughly enjoyed every single one of Zen’s reviews, (I’ve gone back in the archives and read all of them) but sometimes it irks me that the humor derives from how ballsacky (as opposed to Balzacy) the reviewed games are. Zenstrabo, I would be very curious to see if you can review a game you enjoy in the same laughter inducing manner we are accustomed to. The gauntlet has been tossed sir. We await your move…

  9. Stefan said on March 13, 2008:

    Zen, I didn’t intend it in a mean-spirited way, and to be honest I like your reviews. Shota and GJ are right, your style works really well for demolishing crappy games. I was just picking on the juxtaposition of the two articles. :)

  10. zenstrabo said on March 14, 2008:

    Done and done.

    My extraordinary ability to hate things extends well beyond terrible games. So, I’ll pick up your gauntlet, and most likely violate it.

    I’ve already completed a final article wrapping up this series on licensed games, so you’ll have to grant me one more rant on the subject. Also, I hope there is some appreciation that I’m not just shooting fish in a barrel (although I’ll admit, finding what went wrong with Transformers the Movie the Game was arguably as easy as shooting a fish that’s been taped across the barrel of a gun or maybe just saying the word fish and knowing what a barrel is), but making some point that for every one of these games, someone has written a SERIOUS review with words like “pros” and “rating,” and then been paid for their treachery. Writing “reviews” that take themselves seriously for these games is more ridiculous than writing reviews of “the New McRib.” It all tastes like the same shit they’ve been serving up for years, writing about it is nearly as offensive as producing it.

    Stefan- Were I less self-absorbed, I’d have probably just said, “Good point,” but I’ve been sitting on that masterlamer joke for months, and was anxious to burn it.

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