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…)
Before 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.