Spidersaurs Review (Switch eShop) | Nintendo Life
WayForward Technologies has established itself as one of the best developers when it comes to retro projects, from their great beat-em-ups like Double Dragon Neon and River City Girls to metroidvanias like The Mummy Demastered and his signature. Shantae series. The studio excelled at this throwback style, and 2007’s Contra 4 was a particularly fine example, resurrecting a Konami series that had been stagnant since the original PlayStation era. Even though Contra 4 was well received, WayForward didn’t try the Contra game again, so in 2019 the developer decided to make their own Contra with dinosaurs and spiders.
Originally released as a starter game for Apple Arcade, Spidersaurs is a shooter where you take part as a combat trainee at INGEST Corp, a food manufacturer that created dinosaur-insect hybrids in an attempt to solve world hunger. As with most fictional attempts to bring back dinosaurs such as Jurassic Park or Billy and the Cloneasaurustitled creatures run away and you must stop them (and eat them).
You can choose between two characters: Victoria, a punk rocker who uses her guitar to destroy enemies; and Adrian, a police officer in training and an elite pizza delivery man who uses his gym gear to defeat the spiderosaurs. Although these characters move in the same way, they each have access to different weapons. While the laser pickup is arming Victoria with wall-piercing lasers, Adrian is given a flamethrower; Spreader – A standard three-pronged shot for Victoria, but Adrian fires one large projectile that splits into three on recoil. This gives you a reason to try both characters in different situations.
When we say WayForward have made their own Contra, that’s what we mean. Characters move like Contra; they have the same jump as Bill and Lance, weapon power-ups appear off-screen and are lost upon death, and it’s terribly difficult. The game consists of six stages, each of which has both a mid-boss and an end boss. These mid-bosses act as checkpoints, allowing you to return to the level at –yes – the middle point. So if you find it easier to get through the first half of the game as Victoria, you can get through the rest of the game as Adrian, and vice versa. At times we found the difficulty a bit inconsistent; for example, we found the first and fourth stages incredibly difficult, but went through the second, third, and last as if they were nothing.
Completing each level rewards you with a nice big piece of aracosaurus meat, which your character immediately eats and gains new abilities along with it. Double jumping, wall climbing, and dashing are tied to progress. Too bad you can’t get them before the end of the game, because when you have those moves, the game becomes much better. The game offers the option to complete it completely with these moves after you complete it. But it would be nice if some of the more important ones, like the double jump, were a little earlier.
Perhaps due to the fact that it is primarily a mobile game, Spidersaurs is a bit short, with stages taking a maximum of 10 minutes to complete. Obviously, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to complete every stage on the first try, but even after a lot of trial and error, the experience was over for us in two hours. Upon completion, the game offers two more modes; however, these are mostly both play options without cutscenes, both with and without all previously unlocked abilities.
Another sign of its mobile roots is that the menus and options are a bit simplified, with simple on/off toggles for the audio elements being the only ones available. For a game like this, things like the lack of remappable controls feel like a huge oversight and lead to some button layouts that we personally found awkward, such as the dash being mapped to the letter “A”.
Like many original WayForward games, Spidersaurs uses its signature hand-drawn art style. Strong work on the design of characters and enemies; each enemy is easily distinguishable visually, which is very important for a game that can become so intense. It also boasts great music from industry legend Harumi Fujita (known for her work on classic Capcom games like Bionic Commando and Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers).
While the game is relatively bug-free, it’s worth noting that we ran into one major issue near the end of our playthrough, where the epilogue level became unplayable after Game Over (and when trying to load into it on its own), requiring a replay of the previous level to fix. The WayForward team is aware of this and has informed us that a patch is on the way.
Spidersaurs is a fun ride while it lasts, as well as a powerful love letter to Contra, all done in WayForward’s signature style. Although it’s very short and suffers from some minor issues after it was ported from Apple Arcade to consoles, it’s still a good time pass and a solid buy for anyone who craves classic run-and-gun action.