How Game Defines Itself in Action Genre
Charming looks, bop-styled clobbering, and playful level design. Vibe of game is great starting off upbeat at the outskirts of Metropolis High School. Immediacy is felt: fast movement speed capabilities, treasure reconnaissance for a singular item in each course, items on field provide instant effect, and so on. More than relocating violent force outwards — relocate enemies. Advance and maneuver through environments with uniquely-designed stage elements in pathways that frequently encourage platforming. And quite a few of the challenges here will catch even the most veteran players of the genre off-guard.
World / Looks / Structure
Game looks like a cartoon. The stylized look lends itself well to the cut-out scenario emphasis through real-time graphics and text box in mini cutscenes (that are highly fast-forwardable, even skippable). The fast-moving, amusing presentation lets the player advance the plot with little down-time in reaching action scenarios and also allows breathing room to explore the world, which in doing so allows quick access to any successful mission undertaken in a replay VR room. Standing still for a few seconds will automatically bring up information display with current main mission objective – a smart aesthetic choice and one that frees up screen space. The UI looks simple with a nice stylized-border on display values.
Small town setting with combat playing out in the local area. Characters have a lot of personality in their interactions with people — “this is boring!” Jumping on a person’s head is amusing – many amusing ways of “collectathon” exploration. Pictures taken help immediacy in placing the player back into the story when resuming the game. Pop-up notifications in the bottom right corner add new visual stimuli (this can be disabled but I liked it). Varied areas range from Z’s Realm, a platform in a lake, a UFO field, and streets. Visuals are vibrant and organized in an original manner in the pause menu by having split the menu fields into two ‘columns’ on opposite sides of the screen, which saves considerable time in the selection process and makes the otherwise lengthy, pleasantly simple. Going from different areas is natural via a school bus and I never found the need to “cheat” by warping via the menu.
Deciding things by combat is the norm in this game. There is a mission select with all the main and sub missions you’ve completed in the game, so you can spend hours going for all shards clears. No item holding (no carryable healing items). DressUP – no RPG-upgraded gear purchased victories. In place of those crutches are a reasonable amount of hearts on the combat field. Purchase decisions are centered around the ‘superficial’ and they’re better for it.
Combat Mechanics / Scenarios / World Transitioning
Let’s look at the controls and character list: Supergirl – ice breath, flight, heat vision, super throwing strength; Batgirl – batarangs, gliding, bottle rockets, grapple hook; Wonder Woman – lasso of truth, shield throwing & shield bouncing, and bracelet blast. (There are 3 more characters to unlock with two being very similar to the heroes.) There is power move management via down-time caused by using move, which means you need to be aware of how to conserve it for good use BUT also you can play more actively by baiting enemy attacks (doing so instantly fills your power move gauge) and choosing to “jump cancel” out of using the power move to store & carry it to use some proximity over.
Most missions allow you to choose your character (and assign up to 2 support characters). If they don’t then it’s a scenario that plays into a particular character’s strength. Your characters have a nice heft to their jump. Each character has unique characteristics that distinguish them from each other while maintaining a similar base model. Supergirl’s body shape though, in a mechanical sense, is the most complex from mere walking torso to being that which can place itself horizontally for flight movement. Sucked in air produces comic-style puffed up body before ice breath is deployed. Really pleasant aerial battering opponent to then literally blowing them away. The characters here are all fun to play as without any off-putting / out-of-place gimmick character at odds with the fast-pace.
It’s got a ‘platformer ethos’ to it of quickly dispatching enemies and moving to new ground. I really dig the pacing, but what really is special here that you won’t find in other 3D action titles is how cleanly presented (no blood) and colorful the visual effects are in combat. A unique comic-style exclamation vfx appears when hitting combatants and is used to great effect emphasizing a combo and also big ‘smash’ hits. Hitting is aligned to ‘bopping’ the enemy compared to other action games where it’s outright destruction via cutting or crumbling the enemy to the ground. Each blow clobbers in a way where each strike, its motion, in a combo looks admirably powerful, which is seen in great savory detail slowmo’d as a mission-ending finisher move.
The truly remarkable aftermath of vanquishing enemies produces scatterings of red coins and luminous green star bits that auto-zip collide back to the player. And when you play well by not getting hit when attacking your ‘chain number’ goes up and more goodies go ca-chinging into the player — and there’s just tons of this stuff on the screen (it looks a lot more pleasant than item recovery of absorbing typical silver coins or ring drops or whatever).
Several types of combat scenarios play out keeping things fresh since being a hero is more than pulverizing bad guys mano-a-mano. Typically you have a defeat em all, then there are clear outs (cars, bombs, etc.), defend (building, citizen), and quick collection (balloons, jewels). Flying controls have a nice application of acceleration to them allowing you to hold down the air boost ramming junk out of your way. The defend missions stand out the most to me in how they required different tactics to pass. This was a shock to my nearing-complacency in fighting; a false sense of security in an E10+ game does lead to getting hit with rather abrupt Game Overs. You’ll usually succeed though and be treated with a Sonic Adventure-styled results screen accompanied by a catchy electronic victory music track whereas other action games I’d expect somber music scores to conclude combat.
While the game is fast-paced, the use of weight plays a minor role adding a little seen innovation to the action genre. Giganta, one of the supervillains you face, is your typical large enemy with slow attacks that is hardly phased by your own attacks forcing you to whittle them down her health while respecting her attack range and power. Typical stuff. Now take robots or teddy bears, while not heavy-looking, you find out when doing defense missions that they are atypically heavy for a regular enemy, which means they are a problem to displace from a non-moving important target (i.e. the building, not your highly-mobile character).
Speaking of non-moving targets, vehicles and mail bins and other objects of varied sizes are throwable with Supergirl. No difference in hoisting-time because that’s realism-boredom. You lunge at an enemy to grab them just the same, if they are are too far you whiff. More interesting stage element use are with spikes, water, crates, fire hydrants, platforms, truck ‘trampoline’ roofs, etc. There is well-planned implementation for the hit difference of things – pass through, bounce off of, collision, hard collision, bop, blow on, blow through.
Enemies are typically not going to hunt you down if you camp, but camping is excruciatingly slow method of defeating enemies that it is fun-unviable and inefficient for good play in non-standard scenarios. Your characters are supposed to be the highly mobile ones so trying to exploit drawing a lone enemy or two towards you from a long distance is of a lesser interest. While a stealth-feature thrown into the combat system would be silly here, it does pay off on a few scenarios to think of non-engagement tactical maneuvers for speed purposes. Camping is only a real possibility with Batgirl’s projectile or Star Sapphire. Some girls have specialties that play out better in backup roles or speed-missions.
Chapter 3 was when I was wowed by combat – where you’re sent to an underground facility surrounded by UFOs shooting laser beams to dodge and multitudes of big-wheeled robots flaring out scorching flames or swinging saw-blades. I also started revisiting some levels at this point that were easy to beat, and found out they had hard challenges to complete; the first one of which was doing a no-damage run of a ghost level, which was actually quite tough enough to be controller-throwing frustrating. I found Wonder Woman to be disappointing in her moveset but much later on her designated missions are quite impressive when the stage becomes tailor-made around her maneuverability & lasso attack.
Reloaded Ventures / Skill Level
Chunkiness of sequence rollout. Short. Segmented. Sometimes long. Challenge spikes. Scenario switches. The score system revolves around having various awards obtainable from beating a mission under certain conditions: individual gold star (lowest award), three gold stars, shards (highest individual award), and the highest award is getting three shards.
Sustained effort is to dodge everything and/or plow through a stage as fast as possible. Fall off stage results in small health reduction a comparatively big difference to Shinobi [PS2] where falling off stage into water or bottomless pit equaled instant game over. Shinobi required sustained effort for knowing that one mistake could end your run. The no hit shard get objectives are this game’s way of administering frustration. Defense missions can be over in a flash. Game Overed a couple times. Much tougher than Astral Chain’s defense missions. Getting hit with elemental attacks disables your super moves, which is very costly to your ability to knock away enemies from attacking the constructed building. Neat to defend building but maybe it could have had enemies on the roof too in later stages to fully show off the game’s core strength of upward mobility.
Generally the game is easy, but as with all things if you go looking for something (challenge, in this case), you will find it. Difficulty spikes leave a want of consistency for challenge. The fun is consistent. The base difficulty could use a boost above otherwise enjoyable fodder despite the developer successfully delivering on a creative incline with level design. I had a rather challenging time getting all shards for Wonder Woman’s final sub-mission. 30+ attempts. This type of variation has a great facility to produce and dispense the occasional treat and also test the player’s adaptability to new scenarios.
Play this game. Cohesive scenarios, no minigame ughness. Speed – Immediacy – Platformer Ethos. Move through world fast and avoid repetition via character select, scenario change, difficulty change, and stage change. Camera ready for regular life and super hero front-page picture-stunners cause any strike thrown is art for good shots and video for the camera to record. Eventually, I found out what happens if you run out or are very low on tasks: post-game turns into squeezing out the smallest win. Collaborate with a friend or two if you decide to collect everything 100%.