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Who decided that Marvel’s lineup of classic super heroes had to be transformed into grotesque Cabbage Patch Kids to be cool? Hardcore comic nerds will cry heresy over Marvel Super Hero Squad’s squat interpretation of our favorite X-Men and Avengers, though the game isn’t meant for them; it’s aimed at an infant audience. The kicker? This PSP port of the Wii action game is a complete mess that’s tough to stomach no matter how old you are.
We have to believe that a five-year-old is capable of recognizing when the game they’re playing is incomprehensible and boring. The plain, button-mashy action is regularly swamped by a cluttered mess of text pop-ups, and the horrendously erratic isometric camera obscures your view. When you’re jumping around a molten cave as Hulk, or bashing a military outpost to bits as Wolverine, not being able to see what’s what makes locating objective markers an agonizing chore. The problems get even stickier in Iron Man’s indoor areas, which are filled with cramped hallways and imprecise platforming segments that had us wanting to smash our PSP with Mjolnir.
If beating on waves upon waves of identical AIM soldiers was anything more than an insipid exercise in pushing the square and triangle buttons, we might be more forgiving of the restricted view. It isn’t, and we aren’t. Instead, the camera occasionally makes the mindless game almost unplayable – we had to quit and restart certain stages just to get our bearings. On the rare occasion where we could see what was going on, it was a painfully repetitive set of uninteresting objectives. Punching the crap out of everything in Thor’s 20-minute-long smash-a-thon stage is draining; hitting switches and defending computers as Iron Man is a dreary task; and capping off a chapter with a lame boss fight that’s the same as the last four isn’t exactly the peak of entertainment. Any miniscule fragment of fun you might salvage from Marvel Super Hero Squad is crushed by horrendous performance issues: the frame rate dips considerably when the screen fills with baddies or you bust out a finishing move.
And without the ability to play with buds in arena matches or co-op, you’re left with a dull single-player port of an already sub-par action game. The drearily straightforward structure, broken camera and mindless action make it one that even the most dedicated Marvel fan won’t find much value in.
Nov 11, 2009