Spider-Man Webslinger

If there's one thing we hate about mobile gaming, it's the lazy assumption on the part of many publishers that a game based on a film HAS to be a platformer. And that it has to be a bit rubbish.

Gameloft's impressive King Kong is the exception that proves the rule. Most movie-based platformers are by-the-numbers affairs. They're okay, but too often a couple of hours' play leaves you feeling like a bit of a mug, having paid £5 for a brand, rather than a decent game.

So thumbs up to Hands On Mobile, for thinking out of the platform box for this new Spider-Man game (although not for its predecessor, Ultimate Spider-Man).

Spider-Man Webslinger is based on everybody's favourite arachna-human superhero, but instead of routine jump'n'run action, Hands On have focused on the fun bits. The web slinging.

Better still, they've taken inspiration from one of Pocket Gamer's favourite ever casual games, Skipping Stone. See, the idea here is to swing through the city using one thumb to press the '5' key (and later up, down, left and right) in time with the beats on a curved bar around him.

The control system further reminds us of the Playman sports games, with a smidgeon of console dance'em ups like Dance Dance Revolution. In theory, it's accessible to veteran and new gamers alike, although as we'll explain in a minute, that doesn't quite work out in practice here.

First though, the graphics. Spider-Man Webslinger does look good. The colourful backgrounds fly past at a fair lick and the swinging is smooth, while Spidey himself is simply but effectively animated. A nice touch is the way you grab pickups and boot villains in the head as you swing along – you don't have to do anything to do this, it just happens automatically.

That said, praising the graphics of this game is kind of pointless, in the same way it would be for Skipping Stone. When playing, you're not looking at the backgrounds, as your eyes are focused on the square centimetre of screen containing Spidey and the rhythm-bar. It's a shame then Hands On didn't choose to make the main character larger to fill the screen, as a lot of it's effectively wasted.

So, Spider-Man Webslinger is an innovative approach to a superhero game, and it looks good, even if you won't fully appreciate the graphics. Trouble is, it's way too hard for something that's supposed to be a mass-market game. It's horribly difficult from very early on, and we've played more mobile games than we've had hot dinners! This can't be right.

It could be the small size of the rhythm bar, which makes it tough to time your button presses perfectly. The game is fairly unforgiving too – it only takes a few mis-timed presses to send Spidey tumbling to earth with a bump. And just when you feel you're finally getting into the groove, the game throws 'double beats' at you, where you have to press the '5' key twice in quick succession.

By the time level 4 came around – where you start having to press directional buttons too – we were ready to chuck our phone or ourselves out of a high window. And if that was our reaction, imagine how it could feel if you're the kind of casual gamer who Hands On is targeting.

Glu Mobile's Sexy Babes Wild Waterslides suffered from exactly the same problem. Like that game, Spider-Man Webslinger is a good idea that sounds great on paper, but the execution lets it down.

Spider-Man Webslinger

A great pick-up-and-play concept that's marred by too-difficult gameplay