50 MMOs in 50 Days #31: Marvel Super Hero Squad Online

Last played: 2012
Experience: Very Minimal

Unlike its more “adult” hero-game cousin, Marvel Super Hero Squad Online is aimed at a younger crowd that Gazillion’s other Marvel game. It’s based on the popular toy line and cartoon series, which features “cute” versions of everyone’s favorite Marvel heroes and villains.

I didn’t play the game as much as I did Free Realms, but it gives me that same kind of vibe: a generally “free-to-explore” game with lots of interesting side activities and minigames throughout, but no real overarching goal if you don’t want one. Me, I liked just using my hero’s travel powers to try and get into odd places and find secret passages. If you were playing Free Realms, especially with a younger family member, you could do all right with MSHSO. Of course, given the genre, there’s a little more (cartoonish) violence, but it’s nothing to be overly distraught about. (An arguably bigger sin is the overuse of comic sans on the game’s website…)

super-hero-squad-online-title-2011Before Pixar, It used to be a joke that if you wanted to see a Disney movie or other “kiddie fare” in theaters, you needed to bring along a younger relative or friend so that nobody thought an adult was willingly going to such a film. I wonder how many parents are the same way with online games, that they secretly love games like MSHSO but wouldn’t dare play them without a tyke to carry around. “I’m just doing it because little Johnny likes it.” Uh huh, sure, Mr. Smith.

But a movie is just a two-hour commitment. At least in my personal experience, I’ve never stuck with a “kiddie” game to the point of it being an obsession, like several other MMOs have become. I’m not someone who needs graduate-level math or incredibly hardcore combat in a game to keep me interested, but I need some complexity in my game mechanics to keep me going for weeks and months on end. I know there are some adults out there who do play those kind games a ton – my lead Wizard101 writer for Massive Online Gamer also wrote about his permadeath Dungeons & Dragons Online guild – but I wonder how many stick with such a game long enough to become super-experienced with it.

At this point, I can’t even recall what kind of customization options there were in Marvel Super Hero Squad Online apart from skins, how complex the combat was, and so on. I just remember having a vaguely decent time without worrying about those things. Maybe that’s not a bad thing – a game doesn’t have to be complex to be good, after all. On the other hand, I only played for a handful of hours, so you could argue that the game “failed” for me, too. I’m not sure which one of those developers should strive for more.

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