DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power

Release Date: June 4, 2021
Developer: TOYBOX
Director: ???

Rating: 5/5

Justice always wins!

This is a superb game and I can see why Nintendo published it. But playing the game I can see that there is more involvement than that. While having a platforming inspired collect-a-thon as the hub world and a solid combat system in player-initiated missions seem at odds with one another they gel excellently and result in a game where everything can desirably be kept fast-paced.

The upbeat vibe world design puts me in a good mood. No “ugh, modern game design” moments as everything has a very snappy type of speed to it. Blow through text if you’re not interested in the character dialogue cutting people off mid-word. Cool starting off at outskirts of school to then arriving at jump-compelling multi-level building stories. Creative snapping of shots around a corner that the player cannot physically move their character in front of and also amusing jumping solutions. Running around in the overworld (open area, not open world) and finding things, triggering events, or just amusement-based randomness is fast-paced with the character’s infinite sprinting speed, certain city ‘springpad-imbued’ architecture, and overall condensed world size. Think Delfino Plaza in Super Mario Sunshine or New Donk City in Super Mario Odyssey. World is always ‘evolving’. 

Let’s talk about the characters. There are three playable characters: Barbara Gordon aka Batgirl, Kara Denvers aka Supergirl, and Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman (why she is ‘woman’ instead of ‘girl’, idk). They will find themselves solving other’s rather amusingly-befellan circumstances (maybe even almost slightly mean-spirited, such as where an old lady can get “hit” by car by an overly aggressive driver — “that would be terrible”). So the town’s people are wonderfully incompetent. Good positive use of current culture (cellphones, likes, …). Buy clothes. The clothes equip sfx is enjoyable enough to get stuck on repeating it in a looping fashion.

Everything continues… at your own pace. Engage in fights when you want. My pace = fast. Fight -> Buy Outfits -> Fight. Combat arenas or action events are directly taken from places in the city, so everything looks well-designed and gives off a sense of cohesiveness / enhanced familiarity. The fights in this game are predominantly speed-oriented / mobility-encouraged. Notably all the characters have great vertical-clearing ability. Time attacks are actively encouraged. (I do a glass cannon build, which actually works great for speediness achievements.) There’s more powerUP points (XP) and money awarded for beating encounters under a set low time and other special conditions.

Punches, projectiles, super special attacks, fun beat em’up grabbing and throwing, dodge offset and ‘just dodges’ — it’s all here. Gauge whether to switch over to start hitting another target to interrupt its attack-attempt, whether to smash (distance-closer) or skill attack, or unique action. Each has different properties like i. frames, super armor, cancels. Goes beyond the typical floor-grounded super hero crew battling that co-op would definitely not work on one screen or a split screen for the reason of the aforementioned drastic vertical changes (i.e. flight state). Game enemies have no qualms hitting you with a projectile when they’re off-screen; given that they do this it greatly pays off to be cognizant of what could be at a distance behind your character. Lots of aesthetic mayhem, solid framerate. Look forward to fighting masked goons, toys, and robots.

My character of choice is Supergirl. Ice breath fires off from all angles; I’m partial to this attack shown down-angled while hovering. Batgirl is great to control too. Both let you move forward / horizontally / on the Z-axis with great speed. Wonder Woman is accurately represented as an adept but slower fighter, which lessens having a fun fast-paced playstyle: her mobility ability only has an effect on vertical leap. Batgirl’s grapple hook, which you get to figure out on your own, lets you zip forward by shooting at pavement (requires you to do a jump beforehand) or grab a distant enemy to pull the player towards (in the game it just informs you about rooftop hooking). Game mechanical quirks show up at high speeds. Supergirl, for instance, always becomes and stays airborne when grabbing. This changes approaching and redirecting towards enemies significantly compared to being in a grounded state. Regrounding this character requires a quick press of the B-button to let her enter a falling animation, so if you press buttons during this it cancels out the landing. 

Challenge-wise, even if you don’t go for the difficult time attack clears, I’ve been hit with rather abrupt ‘Game Over’s on a few missions. Requires quick-thinking. The rank system is unique in that there isn’t an overall / total S-Rank award (highest award = “shards” in this game) but each S-Rank in its own award. Game’s difficulty varies when playing a main mission or sub mission but for either type getting shards is a serious test of skill. Jet through levels blowing away cars, semi trucks, relay mailboxes, and more out of the way. You’ve got 2 minutes! The joy of chipping off time to get under the time limit. Incredibly fast restarts. On a main mission known as ‘Berserk Truck’, my first clear time clocked a little over 5 minutes -> 1:58 just 2 seconds under. I found myself spending a significant time trying to all clear missions where you forget about all the time spent in the outside world of Old City / Hobs City / Metropolis High School.

Super game – I highly recommend it. Everything is well-incorporated and purposeful. Much to discover and my score upped upon doing so. What could be Action GOTY 2021.

POST-REVIEW COMMENTARY

My impressions of the English game trailer was not great as the overly-chipper voice narration obscured a serious eye for the action footage briefly shown.

Minimap should be toggable. It is useful in high-speed situations for finding one-off baddie who is obscured by environment.

GAME COMPARISON LIST

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Wario World, Sonic Adventure, Super Mario Sunshine, Persona 3, Super Mario Odyssey, Astral Chain

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