By Matthew Scott Hunter
‘Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions’ (T)
Keep spinning webs
When Spider-Man’s not spinning webs, he’s spinning off into new comic books. With so many different versions of the arachnid superhero out there, Activision must’ve had a hard time choosing one incarnation for Spidey’s latest video game. So instead, they chose four. The Amazing Spider-Man is the familiar wall-crawler we’ve seen in the last several games. But then there’s Ultimate Spider-Man, who smacks around villains with the black tendrils of his symbiote suit, Noir Spider-Man, who employs stealth tactics to take down 1930s bad guys, and 2099 Spider-Man, who battles crime in the distant future with a few slick sci-fi upgrades.
The alternate universes keep the action feeling fresh, even though the underlying mechanics are largely the same as they’ve always been. You’ll swing from skyscrapers, crawl up walls and pummel lots of generic thugs to the soundtrack of Spidey’s wise-ass wit. The linear levels are a departure from the sandbox worlds of the last couple “Spider-Man” games, but the pacing is excellent, and just when things begin to feel repetitive, “Shattered Dimensions” throws another spectacular boss battle at you, featuring new versions of familiar foes. It isn’t quite the mind-blowing comic book classic that “Arkham Asylum” was, but it does give us four different Spider-Mans for the price of one.
‘Batman: The Brave and the Bold’ (E10+)
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
In “The Brave and the Bold,” Batman appears to be auditioning new sidekicks. A series of second-string superheroes from DC comics’ stable partner up with the caped crusader for some old-fashioned, sidescrolling, beat’em-up action. The levels are colorful, kid-friendly and so easy, the not-so-dark knight could’ve left his utility belt at home if he didn’t need it to keep his pants up. Dispatching villains with the repeated press of the punch button will likely bore older gamers, but younger players will probably get a kick out of the game’s silly sense of humor and single-screen co-op fighting.
‘Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep’ (E10+)
This prequel to the original “Kingdom Hearts” has you battling your way through classic Disney animated films as three different Final Fantasy-esque characters. The three varying perspectives are interesting in a “Rashomon” sort of way, but since they have you visiting the same lands and sometimes fighting the same bosses repeatedly, it can feel like a cheap gimmick to pad the game. Fortunately, the combat has never been better, with flashier moves and animations adding to the excitement of each keyblade battle. And even on the small screen, the series’ gorgeous graphics ensure that Cinderella, Snow White and company have never looked better.
b‘Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar’ (E)
Even in “Harvest Moon,” the weekend can’t get here fast enough. The latest handheld entry in the series features a town bazaar at the end of every week, where you can sell the fruits of your labor. In the days in between, there’s just labor. You start off with crops and eventually move on to livestock, but it’s a mundane grind of repetitive button prompts no matter what the chore of the hour is. Longtime fans of the series will find more of the same in this installment, and newcomers may as well play “Farmville” on Facebook for free. CV