Next-Gen Gamers is a feature where I explore the world of gaming from the eyes of my kids – literally the next generation of gamers, raised in a house that promotes playing together and sharing our time! It’ll look at games that appeal to kids more than adults, as well as those that are great for both, either through cooperative play or controller sharing.
I’ll open this by saying that Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth (Wii U) is a terrible game. Like, it’s REALLY BAD, you guys. The most repetitive, simplistic, fighting game I’ve played in my memory, and certainly the worst game I own for the Wii U. “SO WHY DO YOU OWN IT?” Well, I’ll tell you: because my six-year-old son loves it.
The basic gameplay is remarkably repetitive. Like, I’m legit impressed that they managed to take so many great, varied characters and somehow boil them all down to such simplicity. If you’ve never played, the whole thing goes like this: Each character has a basic punch and kick option, and then there’s three “unique” special moves for each that accomplish different things and can be strung together into ‘combos,’ plus a meter to build up a “breaker” or, later, an “ultra move.” Breaker moves are just what they sound like – you activate this to use your meter to stop an enemy’s combo. Ultra moves are cool-looking graphically, but each one knocks the opponent into the air, where you can then pummel as fast as you can to do maximum damage. The only variance to the characters, aside from their looks/costumes, is the specific motion (using Wii remote + Nunchuk) or trace pattern (on the gamepad) for each of the three basically-similar moves.
There’s a “plot” to the game, told in pre-battle cutscenes, which pits the heroes (or villains) against the villains and Skrull-copies of the heroes – so, even in that way, you get LESS variance in enemies than it seems, since half the villains are green-man copies of the Avengers and their friends. Despite all of these flaws and repetitive appearances, this game can keep my son entertained for hours. I asked him a bit about this and why he likes it so much (without trying to poison his appreciation with my own disdain).
His answers were what I expected. His favorite thing is the pretty good roster of recognizable playable characters – while I see a bunch of cosmetic differences slapped on to a set of maybe four functionally-different schemes, he sees a full list of totally different options; where I see the same move with slightly different graphics to represent it, he sees a massive variety of totally unique attacks. His favorite character is Venom, which I’m pretty proud of – the Venom symbiote is easily one of my favorite Marvel things. He really, earnestly enjoys the unlockable costumes (including those based on the film for the characters featured there), and the ‘character cards’ that are unlocked to show different features of the game’s cast, and the limited game modes are entirely different things to him, despite exactly the same gameplay within them. His fresh, young eyes completely gloss over what are, to me, obvious endemic flaws with the game, and – if we’ll let him – he can easily play for hours, getting frustrated only with the ‘final boss’ battle, which is often too difficult.
I asked him, too, if there was anything he DOESN’T like about it, because I know he’s got enough wits about him to have some dislikes in a thing he loves; it was a short list, though, limited essentially to the game’s Tournament mode (which requires 3-4 players to play) and the online features that he knows are there but can’t access because, for pretty obvious reasons, his Wii U account is restricted & unable to go online. He’s also learning an early distaste for DLC, and admitted that he doesn’t like that the game shows character costumes that require purchase — being six doesn’t lend itself to much disposable income, so these have been out of reach thus far (despite some PRETTY SERIOUS begging, to which I am mostly immune).