The Amazing Society and their publisher Gazillion Entertainment were showing off the housing system and announced the new website for Super Hero Squad Online, at Comic Con this year. To recap, this kiddy MMO is based on the Marvel Super Hero Squad Show on Cartoon Network. The figures themselves are based the Marvel Super Hero Squad action figure line from toymaker Hasbro. So we see representations of the Super Heroes as kids, but with all their accoutrement and powers. The 2” figures were targeted at younger children (3 years on up) but took off with older children as well as adult collectors.
The Amazing Society’s take on this is to create an MMO that’s also targeted at younger children (6 years on up) with amazingly simple controls and instructions, yet with humor that appeals to adults. This is similar to how many full length Disney and Pixar cartoons have humor that goes completely over the heads of kids. So just as parents enjoy bringing their children to the movies, adults won’t find playing this game a chore either. The entire game can be played with mouse clicks and the space bar. Kids roam around the common areas like The Daily Bugle and Super Hero City where they can thwart bank robberies, stop muggers, take on quests to combat super villains such as the Green Goblin and Doctor Doom, and can play with as many as three other friends.
In the TV show, the Super Hero Squad is headquartered in the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier where players get their housing in the game as well. The housing in the simplest terms possible can be described as substantial. There are thirteen rooms in total: Six dorms, the Bridge, the Gym, the Cafeteria, the Recreation room, the Trophy room, the Laboratory, and the Detention Cell. All the super heroes you collect reside in the Helicarrier and they interact with each other and the objects you place in the rooms. Amazing Society calls it an “AI Fishbowl” and that is exactly what it felt like as I watched the little guys run around. We placed large and small balls, jump pads and benches in the Gym and watched as the super heroes pushed and threw the balls at each other, stepped on the jump pads to make a leap over the balls trying to flatten them, and even picked up a bench to hurl.
It’s really sand-box play in the Helicarrier and players are the “hand of God” as they move characters around, change color schemes for the various rooms and set equipment down. We placed foos ball and arcade game machines in the recreation room and I watched with fascination as Wolverine walked up to interact with the game machine. Invisible Girl and Spiderman made the motions of playing playing foos ball against each other until Spidey lost and threw his hands up.
In the Cafeteria, two different Iron Man characters (different costumes) were whooping it up with Thor, Storm, Ms. Marvel, Captain America and Hulk, flinging hamburgers and other assorted and sundry food stuffs at each other. A food fight had ensued. I think we started it though, by flinging something across the room.
We checked out the Dorm rooms which were filled with ordinary looking bunk beds as well as character themed beds. The Dorm was filled with red Spider Man beds, green and purple Hulk beds and the like. I saw characters run through The Dorm, pause to look at something and continue on. It’s just as possible that they were looking for something.
The Trophy Room is where players will display the trophies won in the game, and players on your friends list will be able to visit your Helicarrier to admire your trophies and to see how you’ve decorated the rooms. They can also watch your super hero squad run around and interact.
There is an amazing amount of humor in the game. Every character has a characteristic action and emote and they all dance. But it’s seen not only in the amusing things the characters do, but in their powers as well. The heroes have much of their “adult” powers, but also some amusing powers that are obviously created with the target audience in mind (and that’s not just little kids).
All I can say is that I’m actually really looking forward to sharing this MMO with my seven year old nephew. He may play Halo Wars better than anyone in the house but he enjoys a good super hero cartoon and a fart-joke just like any other kid.