Platforms: XBO, XBSX, PS4, PS5, PC, NS
Version Played: PC
No, Spidersaurs is not a 90s licensed game trying to cash in on the popularity of Jurassic Park, it just looks like one. This is an original run'n gun shooter from the developers of Contra 4, WayFoward. It looks like something aimed at a demographic that I'm not part of, but it plays like the 2D Contra sequel Konami is definitely not going to make any time soon.
If you’re not familiar with Contra or the run’n gun genre, it’s basically something between a platformer and a shoot ‘em up. There’s a lot of jumping around, and you have to do it while avoiding tons of bullets and shooting everything in sight. The run’n gun’s roots lie in the arcades, so they are punishing by design. They were made to take your quarters. These games are made for you to play over and over, learn from your mistakes, and eventually master them. While Spidersaurs is a new game with modern features, it's still all about those arcade fundamentals. I’m not saying you have to play this on hard, but if you ask me, you should play it on a difficulty that gives you a good challenge because that’s kind of the point.
Spidersaurs is Contra AF, and it's not trying to hide it. Unsurprisingly, it controls a lot like Contra 4, but with a few new moves. You start out with your basic machine gun, jump, duck, and 8 way aiming. As you play through the game, you gain new abilities by beating bosses at the end of each level. By the end of the game, you'll be able to climb, double jump, dash, air dash, do a butt stomp type of attack, and use a very Contra 4-like grappling hook. The level and boss designs get more and more complex as you get new abilities, so there’s always something new to play with in each level. I think the game is a lot more fun with all the abilities unlocked, but I see why they introduce them like this.
At first, I felt like a few of the guns were either too slow or too weird for my liking, but as I played more of the game, I started seeing how they would be useful in specific sections. The game does a good job of dropping weapons close to where they might come in handy. And yes, they come in flying pods, just like in Contra. I still avoided the ones I didn't like, but keeping the guns you like is also a good strategy because you can upgrade them if you get a duplicate.
It’s also worth noting that the 2 playable characters get completely different guns from the same item drops. Victoria’s weapons have more of a musical theme to them and work more like classic Contra weapons, while Adrian’s have a sports theme and have weirder effects. For example, Victoria’s spread gun works like the classic Contra weapon, and Adrian’s version is a billiards ball that explodes on contact into a 3 way spread of smaller balls. I like playing as Victoria better, but someone has to use Adrian in co-op.
Spidersaurs has 7 levels in total. Five of those are big 2 part levels, but it's still a fairly short game you can finish in one sitting once you get good at it. I think it does a great job in getting the most out of its content, though. The game has 3 modes of play; Story, Arcade, and Speed Run. You have to beat Story mode to unlock Arcade and Speed Run, by the way. Story is the modern way a lot of these games are presented these days. You get all the dialogue and cutscenes, unlimited continues, you can replay any level with all your abilities after beating them, and your progress is saved. Cuphead, Blazing Chrome, Hard Corps Uprising's Rising mode, and TMNT Shredder’s Revenge’s story mode are all like this.
Arcade is how the game might have played in the 8 and 16-bit days. It has linear progression, so you can't replay levels, and there's no saving. Arcade has the same ability progression and unlimited continues as Story mode, and it gets rid of the cutscenes. There are still some NPC dialogue windows with talking during the levels, which are kind of annoying because you can’t see through them. The last mode on the list is Speed Run; a linear, 1 credit, no cutscene, all thriller, no filler mode in which you start with all the abilities. If Story and Arcade are too easy for you, try this on for size.
I can't decide if I'm too young or too old to have any nostalgia for what Spidersaurs' aesthetic is going for. It looks like a Cartoon Network show from 1996, the premise sounds like something made during the early 90s Dinomania, and Victoria looks like she's about to audition for Jem and the Holograms. None of these are things I was ever really into, and I had my Dinosaur phase before Jurassic Park came along, so Spidersaurs as an IP doesn't do anything for me at all.
The game does look really nice, though. It looks like a playable cartoon. The backgrounds are super detailed, the characters and enemies look just like cartoon characters, and the animation is really good. The game also runs at a smooth 60FPS, even in its most chaotic moments. It bugs me that the PC version has no graphics options at all, though. Not even full screen or windowed settings.
The soundtrack is also really good. It has a lot of hard rock in it, and some of it sounds kind of like Castlevania rock, my favorite music genre. The voice acting is also really well done. It's humorous, and it just sounds like real cartoon voice acting to me.
I'm not really feeling Spidersaurs as a theme, but this game is a lot of fun. I was a big Contra fan growing up, and we don't get a lot of run'n gun games these days, so it's great when one comes along and actually gets it right. This game plays like the sequel to Contra 4, it looks good, the soundtrack rocks, and it has a lot of replay value. I’ll definitely be trying this in co-op when people come over, too. If you're a fan of this type of game, this is definitely worth checking out.