Marvel-inspired games have a habit of being deeply disappointing on Nintendo consoles. Ultimate Alliance 1 and 2 were poor on both the Wii and the DS, Iron Man for the DS was far less exciting than the blurb would have you believe and X-Men Origins: Wolverine was largely considered to be a waste of shelf space. Ultimate Spider-Man is one of the few DS titles to make good use of Marvel’s undoubtedly rich source material, but it is definitely in the minority.
It does now have a companion title, however, as Marvel Super Hero Squad is a distinctly above average gaming experience. It’s not all perfect and certainly has its limitations, but it doesn’t suffer too badly from its problems and at times offers a fun, pick-up-and-play experience in parts.
The game has two elements. The first is the Story Mode, a platformer game which sees you taking on the parts of both super heroes and super villains in the hunt for infinity crystals (better than midi-chlorians, at least) which promise to boost their super powers. This is the part of the game which doesn’t work too well, acting little more than a Mario-lite experience and one that can be completed within a few hours. As it offers absolutely no replay value at all then, were this the hub of the game, my advice would be to steer well clear.
Thank goodness then for the Battle Mode which is where the title really shows its cards. Essentially a beat ’em up with Marvel characters, there are three separate offerings within Battle Mode: Classic (fight ’til you drop); Super Weapon (attempt to destroy or protect a super weapon while your opponent takes the opposing position); King of the Fractal (stay near the fractal and keep your opponent away). All work quite well, although the Classic mode proves the most fun as it’s just a no-holds-barred scrap.
The DS offers an adequate variety of attacks and blocks to keep you interested, although the use of the touch screen is provided for your special attacks and blocks only.
Each character is equipped with unique fighting abilities and characteristics and with six heroes and four villains to choose from this adds up to a good range of fight sequences. So with Magneto you get to rip up the scenery around you and land it on your opponent; with Hulk it’s all about the smash. And Spider-Man, obviously, gets to spend a lot of time swinging around and tying up opponents.
Marvel Super Hero Squad won’t hold your interest for long periods of time, but treat it as a gaming experience to pick up every now and then and it works very well. The Story Mode is a mild distraction and long load times are also a frequent annoyance. That said, as the game can be bought for £18, I can recommend this title for dipping in and out of on a lazy weekend.
Marvel Super Hero Squad is out now and available from the Den Of Geek Store.