Superheroes are no strangers to the fighting game genre. The Marvel vs. Capcom series has proven successful for nearly twenty years, and the DC heroes themselves had a recent hit in Injustice: Gods Among Us. The “what if” hero vs. hero battles may even be a more popular topic than the traditional hero vs. villain storylines. So, it’s almost incredible that Lego has managed to neuter every great thing that the genre has going for it.
Granted, LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes Team Up is a very small-scale experience. It’s one of the many entirely free arcade mobile action games, so it’s unfair to ask for too much, like a broad roster of characters or engaging multiplayer. But here are the facts: this game has six characters, one arena, and no multiplayer. In every match, you select three heroes (meaning it takes exactly two matches to see the full roster) and take on a tag-team alliance of three villains (drawn from a separate, random roster of about four).
Now, the skimpy content here could be written off if the game was enjoyable. Free is a pretty low barrier to entry, and it would take a lot for a game to be worth less than nothing. Still, Team Up finds a way. The fighting in this game is textbook button mashing. There is one attack button and one jump/dodge button. I say “jump/dodge” because I can’t figure out its true purpose. Sometimes it will help you hop to one of the arena’s higher tiers, and sometimes it will send you flipping over the enemy to attack from behind.
Either way, there’s little benefit to jumping/dodging, because you have no hope of avoiding enemy attacks. See, this is a super mashy fighting game that queues your button presses. This means that, if you tap the attack button faster than your hero actually attacks, your subsequent presses will just cause them to attack over and over. By the time the game registers your jump/dodge input, you’ve already punched your foe another five times. The same delay occurs when you try to activate your three-person “team up” attack or try to tag in a new hero.
If the controls were not entirely unresponsive, there might be some interesting depth. Each hero has a different ranged attack, activated by holding the attack button, and sometimes items appear on the battlefield to grant you other special attacks. New items can be unlocked by accumulating “LEGO studs” during matches, but every match plays out in the same sluggish way. There’s little reason to keep on fighting.
It’s hard to harp on the quality of a free game from a company that makes plenty of excellent games, but that doesn’t make this one more worthwhile. It’s harmless enough that it won’t leave a dent in the legacies of LEGO or DC Comics, but it’s sort of a shame that they let this one get out the door. I’d have accepted even less content if one single match was enjoyable.
Is it Hardcore?
Not at all.
This will disappoint LEGO, DC, and fighting game fans alike.