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Spider-Man 2’s adorable Easter egg reminds us to play indie games

Someone at Insomniac really loves hardcore mobile games

Spider-Man lounges high above NYC in Marvel Spider-Man 2. Image: Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon
Chris Plante co-founded Polygon in 2012 and is now editor-in-chief. He co-hosts The Besties, is a board member of the Frida Cinema, and created NYU’s first games journalism course.

If you put books, games, or DVD boxes inside your video game, I will inspect every last one of them. This and video game bathrooms are my particular peccadillo and I would appreciate it if you don’t judge me.

Usually, using photo mode to get a close-up gander at a bookshelf or a messy desk reveals the work of a very exhausted game writer or staffer who needed to fill out a spreadsheet before clocking out for the weekend. Books like “Biology: A Science” and movies like “Bad War 3.” As a writer immensely familiar with deadlines and creative roadblocks, I have a fondness for these.

Peter Parker looks at a copy of the fictional video game Speed Nonagon in Spider-Man 2 Image: Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

But I cherish when a writer or other team member — hopefully at a studio that has the funds to afford this degree of detail — uses these tiny, overlooked bits of set dressing to fit in something special for themselves. Someone working on Spider-Man 2 did just that.

Early in the game, we get a look at Peter Parker’s home, which he’s been bequeathed from Aunt May. Alongside a messy kitchen and a laughably specific mortgage bill, the player can find on Peter’s table a copy of a video game: Speed Nonagon.

A copy of the fictional video game Speed Nonagon in Spider-Man 2 Image: Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

The fictional game appears to be a warmhearted nod to indie dev Terry Cavanagh’s masterpiece, Super Hexagon — which you can buy on Steam, iOS, and Android for only $2.99. Along with the similar title, both games share a nearly identical, all-caps font. And the safety vest orange cover of Speed Nonagon resembles Super Hexagon’s.

Speed Nonagon is first referenced in the Spider-Man: Miles Morales as a game Miles’ friend Genke is developing on the side. (Thanks to commenter Narcissus1916 for the heads up!) Congrats to Genke on shipping at least one copy.

It’s a small thing, but it’s part of something bigger: little details like this remind us that games are made by people and part of a continuity, each piece of art building off what came before it. Plus, I get to feel vindicated for spending so much time looking at video game boxes, which doesn’t hurt.

Update: The discussion of Speed Nonagon in Spider-Man: Miles Morales was added for context.