Time and time again arcade games are re-released or re-imagined for the modern day, to the point where I’ve lost count. I’ve played a slew in my time, and there are only a few titles that manage to pull it off. These tend to be the true classics of the bygone genre.
However, I’ll have to admit I’m not very familiar with Black Widow. So it was rather refreshing to be playing it properly for the very first time, albeit in its “recharged” form. I must say though, when I first booted it up I couldn’t move my little spider despite navigating the menus with no issues at all. After reinstalling the game, and undertaking a controller and console restart it all finally worked as it should. Unfortunately, I had to repeat the process every time I closed the game, and then opened it for another play session.
Black Widow: Recharged is a twin stick shooter in which you take control of the titular arachnid, who has to defend its web from all sorts of insects. It’s similar to Geometry Wars in many ways, but not quite as frantic.
You can move with full 360 degree freedom around your web, however certain strings will turn into walls as you battle through the never-ending enemy waves. This is a rather clever way of testing your reflexes and keeping the action fresh, especially when it turns into something of a maze.
There are various types of insects you’ll be fending off, such as mosquitoes, hornets, shooting bugs and more. Some explode upon being shot, others lay eggs which spawn more enemies and there are even those who will pursue you at high speed.
Occasionally an insect will spawn of a different colour which means they will drop a more powerful weapon that activates for a brief period of time. A border around your screen represents this temporary power boost elapsing, giving you advance notice of when you will return to your standard weapon.
There are various power-ups, including slow motion, rapid fire and explosive ammo amongst others. A personal favourite is the fear power-up, which traps all your enemies around the edge of your web, leaving them open for a good blasting. These are new to Black Widow: Recharged and are worked into the game well, whilst not making it too easy.
Enemies will leave behind some dollar when you’ve zapped them, and collecting it will earn you points. The cash will also charge your super weapon, which sees you cast a cone-shaped web that obliterates anything in its path. This is a lifesaver when the action really gets going.
Of course, Black Widow: Recharged wouldn’t be an arcade game for the modern day without online leaderboards. Gladly, they are present here for both game modes, although they can take a while to update which is frustrating. The first is “Arcade” mode, which is essentially endless and the aim is to score as many points as possible. This plays similarly to the original.
The second is a “Challenge” mode, which chucks you into 30 different scenarios, with varying objectives such as surviving for a period of time, or taking down a certain amount of enemies. On the whole it offers a fresh take on the action, but the challenges where you have to avoid killing certain types of enemies are somewhat frustrating.
This is mainly because the controls aren’t precise enough to stop you frying a bug in the crossfire that you aren’t allowed to kill. Still, in the round Black Widow: Recharged controls perfectly well with the thumbsticks, as you’ll mainly just be blasting at anything and everything in order to survive.
Both modes can also be played cooperatively if you wish to get a friend involved, and there are specific achievements for doing so. Otherwise, the rest are fairly easily obtained when you play solo.
Black Widow: Recharged absolutely nails the 80’s arcade feel. It sounds brilliant, thanks to award winning composer Megan McDuffee jumping on board to provide an original soundtrack. It’s also optimised for Xbox Series X|S, and whilst it may not be the most obvious candidate for this, it looks great. The bright, bold neon colours pop brilliantly. As a result, the look and feel of Black Widow: Recharged is totally respectful to the original, whilst also breathing new life into the classic arcade game.
Of course, with such games, replayability depends on how much you enjoy the genre. If you like chasing high-score chasing Black Widow: Recharged will help you scratch that itch. It all comes together to ensure that Black Widow: Recharged is a faithful update to the cult classic arcade shooter. However, the simple, repetitive gameplay means only fans of the genre will get the most from it.
Black Widow: Recharged is available from the Xbox Store