PLATFORM: PSP
RELEASE DATE: 10/2009
DEVELOPER: Blue Tongue
PUBLISHER: THQ
ESRB RATING: E10+
Progress: 100%
Welcome to the junior version of Marvel Ulitmate Alliance (MUA): Marvel Super Hero Squad (MSHS). I fell in love with these inexpensive, smurf size plastic toys when they first hit the shelves and collected a few of my beloved X-Men. Soon after an animated TV show depicting these bite-sized versions of the heroes hit networks, a video game was launched soon after. Aimed at younger viewers, these family friendly heroes are ready to put up their dukes in the name of the Avengers (err… I mean squad).
I’ve been gaming on my commute to and from work all week; add in a few extra hours here and there and I was able to complete MSHS. It was fun watching people lean over me on the train trying to figure out what I was playing. I could hear them thinking “I see Iron man but I don’t know what game that is.” I scream, but only in my head, “cause it’s a kids game!” I must say, it made the time fly by and was a lot of fun to play. I only got stumped in a couple of places but I don’t believe it was my fault (read on).

Wonky cameras can ruin a game. Especially when that game is played on a tiny portable screen. Unfortunately, MSHS has this issue. The camera does its best to focus behind the character. However, the characters are constantly twisting and turning to fight off various villains. This brawler can be fun but also very frustrating to play. What little platforming elements it does have, are ruined by inadequate jumps and camera obscura. Some key points in the game can flicker in and out of visibility which is unfortunate but smart players will easily overcome them. Its kind of sad but the game’s greatest villain is the camera itself.

The actual brawling in this game is fun. Instead of defining it as “Hack & Slash” it is more like “Bam & Pow” for the kids. You can’t really die; you just come right back. Not that you would know (cause it doesn’t say anywhere in game) but you can use various well known “Street Fighter” button combos to vary your fighting skills; so experiment away, it will only help. Speaking of help, you have a buddy in game that will knock out some of the baddies for you (“Hero-up!”). Button mash your way through the AIM (Advanced Idea Mechanics) villains, the Mole Man’s hench men and Doombots to collect the missing fragments of the “Infinity Sword”.

Levels are fairly well designed. The art styles seem to shift between 2D animation style stills (like the show) to animated in game sequences and finally to fully rendered CG cut scenes. The fully rendered CG cut scenes look good even though the animation is really just panning back and forth. I prefer the 2D style character art myself, it fits the game’s lighthearted tone better.

Characters with flying skills and projectile weapons seem to be the most fun to use. There are some fun action sequences (quick-time events) that require you to push the right button sequence, when prompted, to get ahead in the game. Later in the game flying becomes crucial to advance, so it’s best to get good at it right away. All in all I think MUA could learn a thing or two from its younger sibling.

C+
Brawlers are good for annoying commutes