Review – Spidersaurs (PS5)

I’d love to know what made WayForward initially lock some of their latest high-profile releases behind an Apple Arcade exclusivity deal. At first, I thought the latest Shantae game was the only title of theirs to have suffered such fate, but I’ve now found out that Spidersaurs, their latest title and easily one of their best games of all time, had also been previously released exclusively for the service back in 2019! A Contra clone featuring crisp cartoon visuals and, well, mutated dino-insect hybrids to shoot, and somehow nobody had ever talked about it prior to the announcement of some well-deserved console ports. It just goes to show how underwhelming the whole Apple Arcade service ended up being. But we’re not here to talk about that company’s attempt to make mobile gaming look less like a casino, we’re here to talk about one of WayForward’s coolest releases… ever.

Spidersaurs Tutorial

Believe it or not, that’s the boss you fight during the game’s tutorial chapter…

I could try to come up with a paragraph explaining the game’s plot or premise, but let’s tackle the obvious: Spidersaurs is literally Contra, with the same control scheme, gameplay, and infuriating difficulty level, but with a WayForward art style. As in, it looks, feels, and sounds like a Saturday morning cartoon, complete with an ultra cheesy, synth-filled intro video that more than once reminded me of cartoons like Captain Planet and Extreme Dinosaurs for some damn reason. I legit want to understand how the hell were people able to play the game on a phone’s touchscreen, because this gameplay loop is not suited for anything other than a traditional controller at all.

Spidersaurs Combat

I need whichever guitar this girl is wielding.

The fast-paced action-platforming style first implemented by Contra works wonders in Spidersaurs. Despite featuring the same control scheme and aiming system, the game does feature some quality of life improvements to make your experience a bit less frustrating. For starters, there’s a difficulty select screen. It doesn’t make the game a lot easier, but it’s a neat inclusion nonetheless. The ability to carry two different weapons at any given time is cool, but you tend to lose them quickly, as they are removed from your arsenal when you die. You can also level them up by collecting multiple units of the same power-up, but once again, you lose the perk whenever you get hit. The fact you can take a few shots before dying is nice, but don’t think your health bar is impressive. Three shots and you’re out. Oh, and you’ve got limited lives.


What kind of spider and/or dinosaur is this?

For as much as I like the gameplay loop, this is not what makes Spidersaurs stand out. Its presentation, complete with that traditional WayForward cartoon art style and animation, is its biggest selling point. Just like Shantae and the Seven Sirens before it, it’s a joy to look at. The enemy designs are just outrageous: the developers went overboard with a crap ton of dinosaur/insect hybrids that feel great to shoot. The entire game retains an oddly charming “Saturday morning Jurassic Park” vibe, with tons of characters, enemies, and levels being based around the franchise, most specifically the first movie. You know, the only one that actually matters.

I’ll also say that the music is pretty good, but nowhere near as epic as some of WayForward’s previous games. I double checked the game’s credits, just to make sure, and there was the evidence I needed: a sheer lack of Jake Kaufman, the man behind the company’s best soundtracks. With that being said, the voice acting caught me off guard. It ended up being a lot better than expected, a lot better than it had any right to be.

Spidersaurs Triceratops

The mandatory “vehicular” section in a game inspired by Contra.

Even if it’s unfair and beyond cheap at times (it’s a Contra clone, after all), I loved Spidersaurs. It’s not just because of its utterly bonkers premise; its gameplay is tight, its level and enemy designs are superb, and it’s really replayable. One of the best Contra-inspired games I’ve ever played, and one of my favorite WayForward games of all time. It’s just a shame this game had to remain an Apple Arcade exclusive for so many years. I’m just glad it will finally be embraced in a way that does its gameplay justice.


Graphics: 9.0

Yet another WayForward title that pretty much feels like a living, breathing cartoon. The ton of particle effects and enemies onscreen never hinder the framerate at all.

Gameplay: 9.0

Pretty much the same controls from old-school Contra games, but with a few additions here and there to make the experience more palatable for modern gamers. It’s still tough as nails.

Sound: 8.5

The soundtrack is pretty good, despite not being the best I’ve ever heard from WayForward. Weirdly enough, it’s the voice acting that caught my attention. It’s way better than it has any right to be.

Fun Factor: 8.0

Even if it’s unfair and beyond cheap at times (it’s a Contra clone, after all), Spidersaurs is a frantic and extremely entertaining action platformer that’s a must-have for all.

Final Verdict: 8.5

Spidersaurs is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PC, Nintendo Switch, and Apple Arcade.

Reviewed on PS5.

A copy of Spidersaurs was provided by the publisher.