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Spyborgs is about thumping things in the face. You thump hard. You thump soft. Or you play your cards close to your chest by thumping hard, then soft. Technically, only robo-bruiser Bouncer does any thumping, but Clandestine’s swordings and Stinger’s gun arm follow the same combo patterns, and Stinger is so ineffectual at range that you might as well treat his projectiles like close-quarter lead thumps for all they do.
There’s nothing wrong with building a game around thumping things in the face as long as the thump feels good and the face looks hurt. Streets of Rage, Final Fight, TMNT – scrolling thumpers are an ancient art form. Alas, these Spyborgs ain’t spryborgs; there’s too much wind-up and not enough payoff. You get an awkward sensation of being trapped in attack animations – flashy routines played to an audience of enemies casually stabbing you in the kidneys.
Why have an upgrade system telling us we’re faster, stronger, better if there’s no visual proof? Bad guy one to one hundred: we sluggishly swung for them all. A shame, as Spyborgs is otherwise high-grade stuff: particle effects, King Kong-sized bosses and really smoky, er, smoke. Even crate-smashing is a bit different: you have to de-cloak them first with the remote pointer.
We like the team attacks, too – quick-time event takedowns specific to which character you use on which enemy. Each team-attacked enemy spills different goodies, so there’s a hint of strategy in who you use these attacks against. They work particularly well in co-op, where each player has to do their half of the remote-wobbling for success (waggling is used judiciously throughout and can be turned off completely).
Dragon Blade, The Simpsons, Rygar, Ben 10, TMNT, Pirates of the Caribbean: the Wii has no shortage of lousy brawlers. What is it about the 3D goon that makes it so less satisfying to punch than a 2D sprite? Until devs can answer this question, it’ll take more than invisible crates to win us over.
Sep 22, 2009