RELEASED: October 20, 2009 (DS, PSP)
AVAILABLE ON: DS, PS2, PSP, Wii
DEVELOPER(S): Blue Tongue Entertainment, Halfbrick Studios (DS), Mass Media (PS2, PSP)
Ladies and gentlemen, this is it. 18 months, a dazzling total of 60 games - the Marvel marathon has come to its finale. Now we're not even looking for a perfect game, we've learned much during this time and it's safe to assume that there isn't a Marvel game good enough in all of history to provide for a truly epic climax to this longest VGMania marathon there ever was (or ever will be). In accordance to my personal code, let's look up something as strange as possible instead. The Marvel Super Hero Squad is actually a toy line for small children, launched by Hasbro in 2006 or 2007 to re-introduce Marvel characters as family-friendly favourites as opposed to their original (and film) counterparts, whose adventures were mostly written for young adults. The toys were quite a hit and an animated series based on them premiered on Cartoon Network in September 2009; as expected, the first of many video game licenses leeching off its success came a month later.
Man, this is just so wrong.
Dr. Doom and his Lethal Legion are in search of the Infinity Sword's missing pieces, which alone are quite enough to grant their bearers immense power. The Super Hero Squad runs in to save Super Hero City. HERO UP! ...Eh...
|At least the game doesn't really|
suffer from the touch screen at all.
Here we have Super Hero Squad. So they had a toy line, that's OK - you can make any sort of toys out of anything and I personally don't mind, I'm not exposed to them. But a cartoon... really? Did you really need to make one? All these twisted, family-friendly caricatures of kick-ass superheroes moms and dads have known all their lives, and are now forced to watch or otherwise be exposed to? Why couldn't you just put the old cartoons (Spider-Man, X-Men...) on re-runs? Kids would've loved those, we should know! This generation's knowledge on classic comics evolves in the wrong order. They watch all that crap as kids, that's their perception of "classic". Then as they grow up, they might go into nostalgia mode and check out those old ones just for novelty's sake. "They're old", "they're obsolete", all that shit. "Why is TMNT so funny?" "Why is Wolverine so angry?" And if they're really out of it, they're asking "Who's Bruce Wayne? Who's Peter Parker?" It's not their fault, it's those fucking assholes who keep ruining this shit for us AND them. Things were so much better when I was growing up. And much more simple. Wolverine was Wolverine, not some ultra-heroic, wise-cracking bobblehead figure with a permanent smirk on his face.
Getting back to the harsh reality and accepting it, Marvel Super Hero Squad isn't such a bad game. It's just not fit for adults at all, and I don't think a possible adult audience ever crossed the developers' minds, which might explain why the game only came out on a couple of portable systems, the family-oriented Wii and the PS2 which was on life support at the time. It's a very simple, straightforward mixture of a beat 'em up and a platformer, which kinda reminds me of Lego games... when I'm at my least judgmental. (At least Lego is clear-cut parody, not an "alternative" or whatever the Super Hero Squad's supposed to be.) The level design is described as "maze-like"; you can rest assured, there are no mazes in this game. If a few more platforms to jump on than usual makes a maze, then sure. The music's either annoying or unmemorable, the most memorable thing when it comes to the sound are the corny "HERO UP!" or "LEEEEETHAL LEGION!!!" proclamations in the start of each stage. They seriously sound like something off a superhero parody (like Warner Bros.' old Duck Rogers cartoons) rather than good catchphrases for kids.
|Thor and Doom go to church.|
L and R are both used for blocking, B is somewhat strangely the primary attack button, while Y unleashes a special attack which can be charged by holding the button. A is used for jumping, and X for a grapple, which mostly benefits you against shielded opponents. The touch screen is used only whenever your "super bar" is full; it allows you to work out a brief period of invincibility or a super attack that destroys most enemies around you. It's that simple in its entirety, and it would work if the game didn't get so boring so quickly. Despite allowing you to use a different character each level, the levels are lengthy as hell and there's a certain repeating pattern to all of them in both the shapes of the terrain and objectives. The enemies are almost exactly the same throughout the game. There are just some certain character-specific opponents to create an illusion of diversity.
It wasn't so long ago I replayed X-Men Origins: Wolverine - a really brutal, violent game starring Wolverine. Now for the "climax" of this whole long-ass marathon I played the first level of a polar opposite of a game using the same character... or some twisted caricature at least. Looking back, I probably should've done it the other way around... oh, well. The Marvel marathon's been a long and confusing journey as it is. There have been a lot of bad games, a lot of even worse games, some fairly good games, some almost great. So where does this last one stand? Let's cut it some slack: don't play it. Spare yourself. Let your kids play it if you're the most resilient collector, but make sure they know this has nothing to do with the real thing. It's not a bad game; it's a fairly good gameplay concept ruined with generic execution and one horrible license. They should've sticked to the toys, really.
+ Well, it has Thor... or something Thor-ish
+ The concept could've worked if they put a little more effort into it; Smash Bros. meets Marvel meets platformer
- The source material
- Both modes are only half baked
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