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Marvel Super Hero Squad

Score: 70%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Bluetongue
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Action

Graphics & Sound:

Marvel Super Hero Squad is a pretty good attempt at bringing the gaming style of Marvel Ultimate Alliance to a younger audience, and while it isn't the best game to come around, it is still fun and offers a different experience for those younger gamers out there.

Marvel Super Hero Squad takes the unique visual style of the toy line of the same name and puts it into an interactive environment that lets younger gamers bash, slash, and zap through Dr. Doom and his Lethal Legion. Each of the Super Hero Squad heroes and villains look like their toy (and I presume TV show) counterparts, complete with oddly proportioned hands, feet and heads. The main characters you will be fighting as - Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Silver Surfer, Wolverine and Falcon - look and feel right, and even their oddly deformed voiceovers, while not the best representation of the characters, definitely sound right coming from the altered versions that give the overall feel of the characters a much more cartoony style.

The rest of the game's audio presentation is okay, but nothing memorable. The background music gets the job done, and has enough energy and action in it to keep you moving, while the fairly constant sound effects also do the trick. Outside of the character voices though, there really isn't anything too interesting about Marvel Super Hero Squad's audio.


Gameplay:

As I mentioned above, it's clear that Marvel Super Hero Squad is an attempt to bring the multiplayer co-op style of Marvel's other big game series, Ultimate Alliance, to a younger audience. In this game's Adventure Mode (the story), two players can plow through innumerable numbers of Lethal Legion minions as you try to stop Dr. Doom from piecing together the Fractal Shards that he wants to combine into the Infinity Sword. With this sword, Dr. Doom will have the ability to bend reality itself. From what I understand, this is the basic plot of the series as well, and while I haven't had a chance to see the cartoon yet, it sounds like it follows the same general direction of the show.

After the game's Prologue level where the Super Squad stops Modok from using the Fractal Shard in a doomsday cannon, the game splits up into six different levels that can be played in any order. Each level features one of the six main characters in the game, and the players can choose a second character to join them (to be played by either another human, the computer, or switched to on the fly if there is only one player). These six chapters have the characters going after a specific shard fragment and while running through each chapter once will get you through the game's story, there is the added bonus of trying to complete the level with each of the support characters provided for that level in an attempt to add replayability. Unfortunately, there really isn't any desire or reward for going back and playing through the levels a second time with the other characters, except for those people who simply can't leave a job finished 100%, and because of that, the game's main story mode feels really short.

Besides the one or two-player Adventure Mode, you can also pit four characters against each other in an arena battle in Battle Mode. Here, you take the four unlocked characters into one of three types of fights. In Time Battle, each member just tries to get the most number of kills in the allotted time, while Score Battle sees which player can get a certain number of kills first. Elimination Battle has everyone starting off with the same number of lives, and the winner is the last one standing once those lives are extinguished. It's in this mode where some of the game's fun factor really shines, but to truly enjoy it, you need to have as many characters unlocked as possible and as many people playing next to you as you can get.


Difficulty:

Marvel Super Hero Squad's Adventure Mode isn't all that hard. Considering that this game is designed for the younger players who are probably more interested in the fact that they can play as the toys they own, or the characters on the show, the difficulty setting is fairly dead on. The game does a fair bit of nagging at you if you haven't completed whatever objective needs to be done, but not so much as to get annoying, and it is bound to help a few of those A.D.D. little gamers out there so they don't forget what they need to do in order to progress in the level.

Game Mechanics:

Marvel Super Hero Squad requires little more than button-mashing, which is most likely best for the little kids who will be putting the most time into this game. The game requires both the Wii-mote and Nunchuck with the analog stick controlling your character's movements and the (A) and (B) buttons performing your melee and ranged attacks, respectively. Other than that, (Z) makes your character jump and you point your Wii-mote at the screen to help target your enemies for the ranged attacks you may or may not have at your disposal (depending on the character). Marvel Super Hero Squad really does a good job at the pickup-and-play factor.

While a fun experience, it is really short, and unless you are planning on making use of the Battle Mode a whole lot, or you don't want what little complexity is in the Ultimate Alliance series, Marvel Super Hero Squad is probably best left untouched. Those kids out there who are just getting their feet wet in comics or the Marvel Universe, or those who are fans of these mal-formed heroes might find more enjoyment out of the game, but I doubt the gameplay experience will last much longer than a rental period.


-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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