Review – Black Widow: Recharged

I hope the Recharged series isn’t the only kind of game we’ll get from Atari from now on. Black Widow: Recharged is the third game released in this series, and is the first one to showcase signs of saturation. A remake of a somewhat unknown shooter released by Atari back in the early 80s, it lets you control a laser-firing black widow spider fighting against hordes of bugs invading her web, who are also trying to… kill her? Wasn’t I supposed to be the feared predator? Am I missing something here?

Black Widow: Recharged Graphics

Can someone explain to me why I am the one being attacked by these bugs? That’s more confusing than the fact that I’m a spider that shoots lasers.

If you’ve played any of the previous Recharged games, which were remakes of both Missile Command and Centipede, you know what to expect from Black Widow: Recharged. You’re getting basically the same game released forty years ago, but with a brand new sexy neon coat of paint, the most forgettable soundtrack in history, a few brand new temporary powerups for your spider (some of which are literal copies of the ones found in Centipede: Recharged), and online leaderboards. If it sounds a bit too simplistic to you, it’s because it is. The difference between Black Widow: Recharged and its predecessors is that, sadly, this one hasn’t exactly aged as well, and this has nothing to do with the quality of its gameplay loop.

Black Widow: Recharged

These randomly generated walls are the only kind of “challenge” you will find in Black Widow: Recharged.

Instead, what makes Black Widow: Recharged more underwhelming than the previous Recharged titles is the fact that, well, Black Widow is not a very well-known classic. Missile Command and Centipede are legendary franchises. Black Widow isn’t. This is a twin-stick shooter with a very simple gimmick (walls spawning at random to make your life slightly harder), released in a world filled to the brim with twin-stick shooters with gimmicks. This game lacks brand recognition, so the vast majority of gamers out there will look at it on online storeshelves and ask themselves: “Sure, you’re a vector spider. So what?”. Considering that these Recharged games do not try to innovate in terms of gameplay and features, it’s hard to make this game stand out in particular. This is sad, because nothing about is particularly bad. It is what it is.

Black Widow: Recharged Ultimate

I will confess that I liked this ultimate web attack that can be unleashed after killing enough bugs. At least visually, that is.

If you’ve played any other Atari Recharged title, you know what to expect from Black Widow: Recharged. It’s more of the same, but prettier and on-the-go. The thing is that we live in an era where we get half a dozen twin-stick shooters a week, so name recognition alone isn’t enough to make Black Widow: Recharged stand out from the crowd. If anything, this makes me worry a lot more about Atari’s plans for the future… is this what we’re basically going to get from now on? Neon-colored remasters of forty year old games? Sure, we don’t need another Haunted House reboot, but Atari can do better than just these Recharged games.

Graphics: 7.0

Black Widow: Recharged follows the same visual style from the other Atari Recharged titles: sleek vector-like recreations of the 80s original, with some neat particle effects here and there, but nothing exactly groundbreaking.

Gameplay: 7.0

It’s a functional twin-stick shooter control scheme, with very little in terms of innovation or elements that make the game stand out.

Sound: 5.0

Just like in all other Recharged titles, the sound design is utterly mediocre. Sounds are uttered and get the job done, but they leave your memory the second you stop playing the game.

Fun Factor: 5.5

Black Widow: Recharged is alright, but in a sea infested with twin-stick shooters with different gimmicks and mechanics, this one feels even more dated than its actual source of inspiration.

Final Verdict: 6.0

Black Widow: Recharged is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PC, Switch, and Atari VCS.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Black Widow: Recharged was provided by the publisher.