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Thirteen years ago, Jamie Fristrom was frustrated. As a technical director at Treyarch working on Activision's 2002 Spider-Man movie tie-in, Fristrom had one major problem with the game: using Spider-Man's powers to swing around the city just didn't feel good enough.
"I wasn't happy with the way swinging worked," he told Polygon. "In Spider-Man 1, your webs just attached to the sky. It didn't feel like swinging, it felt like flying. We just drew the webs in in post."
He knew there had to be a better way. Fristrom began staying after hours at Treyarch and experimenting with various physics-driven swinging systems. "I would go into my offices late at night after work and just try to do something different," he said.
Two years later, Fristrom's prototypes wound up becoming the entire foundation of Spider-Man 2, one of the most well-loved superhero games of all time – a game that received significant critical acclaim largely thanks to its pseudo-realistic swinging system. GamingTrend called it "an absolute blast even if you do nothing more than simply swing around town," and IGN wrote that "Treyarch's technology coupled with its craft makes you feel like Spider-Man like no other game has ever done."
Now, in 2015, Fristrom is back with Energy Hook — a spiritual successor that intends to keep the best parts of Spider-Man 2 by stripping out the pesky combat, replacing it with a SSX-style trick system, and adding a jetpack.
Above, watch Fristrom guide us through a few of Energy Hook's stages, discussing the lessons he learned while working on Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 and how he chose what he chose to keep (and scrap) in making this spiritual successor.
"The thing I've really been focusing on is the movement, the sense of speed and gamefeel," said Fristrom. "I am definitely at the point where I'd rather be playing (Energy Hook) than dusting off my old Spider-Man 2 discs, and I hope other people feel the same way."
Energy Hook will be available Aug. 13 on Steam Early Access for $17.99, with a PlayStation 4 and Vita release expected to hit later this year.