HERO UP with Game Hopper
In this recurring column at MMORPG.com, our goal is to take turns giving you brief glimpses at some of the games which don’t get enough coverage for any number of reasons. Look at our Game List. Many aren’t MMORPGs, but almost all are MMOs of one form or another. Then count the number of reviews we have for them. We’re addressing this, as quickly and as efficiently as we can, but the simple truth is that a lot of games fly under the radar. So, with The Game Hopper, we plan on bringing you a new game every week that you might not know much about. We’ll do some brief impressions and an overview on the game and then let you guys chime in with your own thoughts.
This week, Game Hopper is diving into Marvel Super Hero Squad Online, a browser-based free to play MMO from Gazillion Entertainment. The kid-friendly game is based on the television cartoon series of the same name with the same animated look and feel as the series.
Let’s get one thing straight right from the get-go: This is a family oriented, kid-friendly game. Folks looking for hardcore MMOs need to just move on. There’s nothing to see here. That said, even as an adult, Marvel Super Hero Squad Online is a lot of fun. It’s colorful and there is a lot to do to keep even the most jaded adult (and the most hyperactive kid) busy for hours.
What makes MSHSO so much fun is that you can jump right into the game and get started playing a super hero. Yeah, a SUPER HERO! Now how cool is that? All of the Marvel heroes we know and love are there along with the bad guys too. These heroes of legend come with attacks that are familiar and eye catching as well. I played Phoenix during most of my time prepping for this preview and her Phoenix Force “Hero Up” attack was simply awesome and when she took off across the skies after interacting with a jump pad, she was gorgeous to behold.
Heading into the game, players are given the choice of several characters to begin play as and later will have the ability to add more heroes to their squad. MSHSO essentially allows players to collect all of the iconic publisher’s super heroes including such well known good guys including Spider Man, Hulk, Wolverine, Electra, the Fantastic Four and many more. Characters can be purchased with in-game currency earned through daily visits and completing missions, exploration and more. Each character on a squad can then take on daily quests or just to run around and use the “rude” emote for lots of childlike giggling. Yeah, I go that way…all in the interest of work. *coughs*
Fans of the cartoon series will automatically feel right at home as the characters mirror their television counterparts. Marvel Super Hero Squad Online definitely has a cartoon feel to it which gives players a fun experience as they take part in the activities.
The colors and environments of MSHSO are vibrant as would be expected. What is surprising is the obvious effort that Gazillion and The Amazing Society have put into making the spell/hero effects really impressive looking. Dr. Doom’s lightning sizzles with awesome purple power. Wolverine’s roar is loud and literally earth shaking. Phoenix’s AOE Hero Up attack dazzles in fiery fury (and does some pretty amazing damage too!). I was very impressed overall.
That’s not to say that there aren’t things that can get to you over time. I was plagued by lag my first day in with the game literally locking up for as long as 30 seconds at a time. Luckily, MSHSO managed to get itself going after a time and play continued. I did note as well that subsequent log ins were smooth and lag-free so maybe it was just a crowded day.
Maybe it’s just my “adultness” too but finding one’s way around in the game can be a bit confusing though it’s obvious that the dev team has taken a lot of time to make the UI friendly. My 10-year-old daughter had no problems so I suspect that I’ve just gotten old. “Come on, Mom” was heard a lot around our house as I fumbled around the UI to get to what it is that I wanted to do.
Marvel Super Hero Squad Online definitely falls under the MMORPG category as there are literally hundreds of players running around at any given time. Yes, the daily events/quests are instanced but you can team up with friends as you can in any MMO.
Here are a few features that MSHSO includes:
- Housing: Players have access to an awesome HQ where their squad members recline, eat, play, exercise and more. Players can purchase decorations for their HQ that really add something special. It is a lot of fun to watch squad members “doing their thing” in the HQ.
- PvP: While players don’t literally take one another on, Gazillion has added a PvP card game that adds a lot of complexity to the game. Players can purchase or earn cards to use in a pretty traditional TCG against others. Decks can be automatically generated using a player’s cards or players can micromanage their own decks to create exactly the right (and potent) combination of cards to take on other players.
- Dailies: Players have daily events/quests to complete that can yield some pretty awesome rewards.
- Exploration: Players are rewarded for exploring the Marvel Super Hero Squad Online world. Just about everything is interactive. Some things can be touched that yield silver, some can be picked up, some things can be touched that yield tickets that can be used on the Big Wheel. On one of my exploring jaunts, I found a little puppet theater that showed off Thor and another hero battling in all their marionette glory. That sort of thing is just awesome!
- Shopping: The in-game currency (gold and silver) can be used to buy heroes, furniture and items for one’s HQ, emotes and more.
- Hybrid revenue model: MSHSO can be played for free with a limit to the number of squad members one can have. Players can also choose to subscribe to the game for about $80/year.
- Kid-Safe: For parents, there are some great features in place to keep kids safe: Safe chat, in-game GMs, and more. Players can be banned for violating the rules as well.
All in all, MSHSO is a lot of fun. Fans of Marvel Comics will have a blast playing the game if they give it a chance and realize that it’s a family-oriented game. Believe me when I tell you that you’ll totally forget that “it’s a kids’ game” after about two minutes of play. It’s that fun! Go and HERO UP today!
We’ll have a full review of Marvel Super Hero Squad Online in March so keep your eyes peeled!