Marvel Super Hero Squad Review
PSP | DS
Marvel Super Hero Squad box art
System: Wii, PS2, PSP, DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: Halfbrick Games 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: THQ 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Oct. 20, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-4 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+ 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Marvel’s Second Outing in
Two Months Disappoints

by Caleb Newby

While Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 was grabbing the headlines this past month, another Marvel-themed franchise has rolled onto store shelves largely unnoticed. Marvel Super Hero Squad, inspired by the television show of the same name, takes a different approach to the more familiar Ultimate Alliance series.

Marvel Super Hero Squad screenshot

Where Ultimate Alliance could be considered more of a “serious” game and take on the famous world of (sometimes) spandex clad do-gooders, Super Hero Squad on the Nintendo DS instead focuses on a much more simplistic and kid-friendly gameplay experience. It’s critical to know this going in; if that’s what you’re looking for, you may enjoy Super Hero Squad. If you’re looking for something with depth and polish, turn around now – this game is definitely not for you.

As in many games, the first thing you notice at startup is the menu select screen. Normally you’d be hard-pressed to find anything there to sway opinion of the game you’re about to play. Not so here. The menus look like they were done by programmers as placeholders during the development stage and never were replaced – they are as barebones in appearance as possible with zero flair – Chotchkie’s Stan would not be impressed. If you think that such a barebones menu interface could be indicative of the rest of the game, you would be correct.

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Story mode pits you in the role of a Marvel hero or villain trying to succeed in a mission, generally a mission involving a Fractal crystal that everyone wants to get their hands on. If I seem to be glossing over the particulars of the game’s story it’s because the game never made an effort to make it a priority. There are several cutscenes that pop up in the middle of, and between, missions. I suspect they were also used to set the narrative for a plot, but all I was able to pick up was that everyone wanted those elusive crystals. I spent the rest of the cutscenes bewildered at the art and dialogue; something about The Hulk being given a chocolate chessboard from Iron Man as a reward for destroying a flying ship.

Marvel Super Hero Squad screenshot

The graphics are reflective of the television show, erring towards accessibility for a younger audience with disproportionally cartoony characters. The cutscene art is particularly simple and kitschy. In-game graphics don’t offer much either. There are a very limited number of enemy types and environments. Once you’ve seen one plywood box that needs to be smashed, you’ve seen them all.

Music is nothing special and, unfortunately, is more on the annoying than passable background music side of things. Special effects consist of some crunches and explosions; not surprising when that’s pretty much all the gameplay calls for. Voice acting is virtually nonexistent, but that has as much to do with the DS platform as anything else. It’s safe to say people won’t be purchasing this due to its place as a modern-day, technical audio masterpiece.

Marvel Super Hero Squad screenshot

Controls are extremely simple. The game takes place on the upper screen, while the lower touch screen is reserved for two huge buttons that unleash your Super Attack and Super Defend abilities. Movement is entirely tied to the D-pad. The face buttons control jumping, regular attacks, charge attacks, and grabs while the top buttons block. Some characters are able to double jump while others can fly or float for a limited time. During the course of the game the super attack meter will go up and let you unleash character-specific Super Attacks, which are quite fun, or temporary immunity with a Super Defend, which is much less fun. And that’s all there is to it; it is a very simple control scheme.

Screenshots / Images
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