Saturday, December 03, 2011

Spider-Man Comes to iPad

One of my favorite modern myths is Spider-Man. Let's tick off all of the great things about Spider-Man's origin:

  1. Peter Parker starts out as a teenage science geek
  2. Peter Parker is bullied by other, more powerful kids
  3. Though he gets enhanced powers, these powers are also augmented by his own innovation (in the comic, he doesn't naturally shoot webs, but instead designs and builds "webslingers" which shoot a chemical web compound of his own creation)
  4. Upon gaining his powers, Peter responds by seeking self-satisfaction and fame
  5. Peter's self-absorption leads to the death of his Uncle Ben
  6. Peter vows to dedicate his life to the cause of justice, to serving others, as a means of atoning for his failure
  7. Peter doesn't (in general) brood over this decision, but embraces it joyously, becoming "your friendly neighborhood webslinger"

Frankly, this resonates with me far more than the origin tales of other heroes, like Superman, Batman, Captain America (who has no real moral failings), or most of the other modern comic superheroes. I am very thankful that my eldest son likes Spider-Man, because this is a hero that I can really support him modeling himself on.

So I was very pleased to find out about "The Amazing Spider-Man: An Origin Story," an interactive reading app that has recently come out for the iPhone and iPad, read by none other than Stan Lee himself. The app currently sells for $6.99. My son and I had the opportunity to go through it and he "really liked it." So did I, though my one concern was that it was done pretty fast.

The story outlined is the basic origin story, without many of the embellishments that have been added over the years. There's no Doc Ock, Lizard, or Green Goblin. No supervillains at all, in fact. It's just about Peter gaining his powers and how he got set onto the path. It can be read or you can listen to Stan Lee narrate the tale at your own pace, with activities interwoven into the narrative. So the child (presumably) reading it is able to run the accelerator that irradiates the spider, look for hidden spider symbols, and swing Spidey from building to building.

The whole thing was over in easily less than a half hour, and these activities aren't really engaging enough to keep the student "playing" for longer. If you're looking for an app that can keep the kids busy for a long drive, though, this wouldn't be that app. This is best viewed as an interactive book, not an actual game. Like a book, the child will read it, then be done and, hopefully, come back to it later to read once again.

And, along the way, they might just learn the important lesson at the heart of Peter Parker's origin:

With great power comes great responsibility.

Disclaimer: I was provided a free iPad copy of this game by Disney Publishing Worldwide Applications, for review purposes. No other compensation was provided in exchange for this review.

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