DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power (Switch) Review
Let’s start with the obvious: I am extremely not the target audience for DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power. It’s a cutesy, bubblegum-chic superhero story based on a TV show aimed at teen and tween girls, and I’m a 26-year-old person with a beard who’s never watched an episode of said TV show in my life. So, you know, maybe not quite the kind of person the developers expected would play this kind of game. Having said that, I’m a huge fan of just about everything DC, and Barbara Gordon (aka Batgirl, and one of the main protagonists of this game) is far and away my favourite comicbook character. My expectations were, to say the least, a bit mixed. What I got, though, far surpassed my expectations, and even surprised me in a lot of ways. It is far from a perfect game, of course, but there’s a lot to like here.
DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power, much like the show it’s based on, tells the story of twelve not-so-ordinary high school girls, half of whom live secret lives as crime-fighting superheroes, while the other half live secret lives as crime-creating supervillains. Somehow, these girls are friends at school, despite their diametrically opposed alter-egos being extremely obvious to anybody with eyes and ears. In Teen Power, Lex Luthor unveils plans to spruce up (read: gentrify) the waterfront, to make an all new city that meets the needs of the city’s youth, and holds a competition at the girls’ school to let students pick out what buildings and facilities will be available in the new city. Unfortunately, as is always the case with these things, construction is continually disrupted by evil, possessed toys, wreaking havoc and wrecking stuff all over the place. It’s up to the superheroes and supervillains to team up and stop the problem, and figure out who’s behind these monstrous attacks (spoiler alert: when Luthors are involved, you can probably bet they’re not doing much good).
It’s a fairly decent story, focused on friendship and overcoming differences to do the right thing. Perhaps a bit basic for most adults, but given the target audience here is young girls, it’s a good message to be sending. I mean sure, there’s some arguably vain stuff in here, a weird amount of focus on getting Instagram-adjacent likes, a lot of talk about fashion and wearing the right clothes — but these are things that teen girls do care about, and I can’t fault the game for using those topics as a launching point. Again, it’s not aimed at me in the slightest, so I can’t judge it too much, except to say that it’s largely inoffensive.
But let’s talk about the gameplay, because that’s where the game really surprised me. Teen Power is kind of an action brawler, with a few RPG elements in its upgrades, set in a couple of open world-ish maps. The game follows a mission-based structure, where each mission has you taking down a swatch of enemies, chasing after the baddies, or defending an important building. In-between missions you have free reign to explore everything the cities have to offer, as well as knock out a few side quests. It’s these side quests that I enjoyed the most, even if some of them were a bit collectathon-y. Sure, there’s a hundred odd hamster dolls to collect, and just as many golden hamster dolls, which is uh, a bit much. But there’s also hero and villain symbols hidden throughout the city, hidden away under bridges and alleyways, or up high where you’d never think to look. Hunting down these symbols and photographing them was some of the most fun I had in the game, and it’s surprisingly addictive, even if the rewards aren’t all that great. But some side quests do offer new super costumes, with some real deep cut costumes on offer from across DC history, and while not all of those side quests are bangers, a lot of them are enjoyable at least — particularly those that have you utilising each character’s abilities.
Each of the six playable characters — three heroes and three villains — have their own fighting styles and unique abilities in both combat and traversal. Supergirl, for example, can fly (as you’d expect), use her frost breath to freeze enemies in place, or punch stuff real hard. Star Sapphire also has the power of flight, but can use Light Constructs to attack from afar, while Batgirl can use her athletic abilities to wall jump and whip out her zipline to home in on enemies. Combat is a relatively simple (but incredibly stylish) affair, with a single basic attack button to hit enemies normally, which builds up progress bars that let you use special abilities and powerful finishers. While I wish I could say that every character has their place, in all honesty, only the flying ones are really worth using 90% of the time. Flying enemies are fairly common, and between Supergirl’s ice breath and Star Sapphire’s ranged attacks, the utility they offer compared to their grounded counterparts is too much to give up. Defend the building missions are also weirdly much more difficult than any other mission in the game, and ice breath slowing some enemies down while you focus on others is borderline required at parts.
As for how the game looks and performs, I mean, it’s fine? The art style is charming at least, and the frame rate stays mostly solid outside of the rare occasions where you’re facing off against dozens of enemies with heaps of particle effects. There’s a lot more voice acting than I thought there’d be, I presume using the same voice actors as the show, and it’s performed very well, with each of the actors giving an appropriate amount of cheesy gusto, as you’d expect from DC’s slightly campier side. My only major complaint is that the load times are a bit long, and depending on what you’re doing, quite frequent. It’s not a dealbreaker by any means, but it does break up the action a little more frequently than I’d like, which tends to grate on you in longer play sessions.
I’m clearly not anywhere close to the target audience for this oddly Nintendo-published game, but despite that, I really enjoyed my time with it. DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power isn’t perfect, with its reptitive missions and slightly over-the-top collectathon tendencies. But if I were a kid, and I was into this show or comics in general, and my parents had bought me a game like this to play, I’d have been absolutely over the moon. Judging it by my own standards wouldn’t give a fair representation of what the game really is: a great little experience for the audience it’s aimed at.
+ Great presentation and voice acting
+ Tonnes of things to do
+ The character costumes are great
- Can be a little bit repetitive
- Some characters aren't worth using
- Loading screens a little too frequent