WayForward has become known for their original retro-inspired productions, and Spidersaurs is their next release that fits into that category. It’s out for all major console platforms as well as PCs right now, and we played the PlayStation 4 version.
As you can no doubt gather from the title, Spidersaurs are hybrid creatures composed of dinosaur and spider DNA. The idea was to farm their gigantic dinosaur-sized bodies for their meat as well as their ability-enhancing powers, but as with any other mad science experiment things don’t turn out quite as planned. Now, these dangerous creations are on the loose, and it’s up to you (and a friend, in co-op) to take them down.
Despite the silly premise, which Spidersaurs embraces with a cartoon-like look, the gameplay is very much like that in arcade classics like Contra and Midnight Resistance. Before each level you get to choose between protagonists Adrian and Victoria, who takes a guitar-like axe into battle that can also shoot projectiles. Adrian’s weapon of choice (a gun) is a bit more traditional, but this sets the tone well, and both weapons can be (temporarily) upgraded in a number of ways over the course of the campaign. Along with permanent (ability) upgrades, this mixes up the gameplay nicely.
Having said that, the actual campaign is only about two hours long – which isn’t too surprising when you consider the arcade inspirations of Spidersaurs. There are six stages in total, each of which has a huge boss to fight at the end. The difficulty has been balanced nicely, so no matter if you’re playing solo or with a buddy you’ll feel challenged without getting frustrated. If you fancy a tougher go at it you can select a higher difficulty level as well, which also makes for some replay value.
What sets the game apart from classic arcade games is the fact that you gain extra abilities, like the option to cling to walls and ceilings, by consuming spidersaur meat after a boss fight. This doesn’t just keep the campaign interesting throughout its six levels, it’s also something that invites you to replay previous levels with your new abilities later on. Add unlockable game modes like an arcade mode and a speed run challenge, and you’re looking at an arcade-like game where the developers made sure they got as much out of it for the player as possible.
The attractive cartoon-like visuals also make this game stand out from the pack, and the short campaign length is actually a plus if you feed like jumping back in for subsequent playthroughs – which is great fun in co-op mode. It may not reinvent the genre, but it’s a very solid take on the arcade gun and gunner with a good fun factor.