Marvel Super Hero Squad: Infinity Gauntlet (3DS) Review
Something that I was really worried about when the Nintendo 3DS was released was the propensity for older games to be released with “added 3D” in an attempt to cash in. Having released the second instalment in the Marvel Super Hero Squad franchise, The Infinity Gauntlet, on almost every console last year, THQ was seemingly keen to bring it to the 3DS almost a year later. While this is an idea that could start to take off with many developers, there are several reasons why releasing an old game with a superficial lick of paint won’t make the game feel any more outdated than it already is. But, the game does have its fair share of good and bad points.
The Infinity Gauntlet’s story takes elements from the Marvel Comics universe that it’s based upon, but takes a rather goofy and more comic approach to telling a story. While shopping for new boots for Thor, Iron Man and Hulk realise that the boots they wanted have been stolen by Super Skrull, who himself thought that the box had the infinity Gauntlet inside, which he wanted to give to Thanos. Eventually, the Marvel Super Hero Squad discovers a rather sinister attempt by Thanos to collect Infinity Gems to power the Infinity Gauntlet and take his hold on the universe—which, of course, the Super Hero Squad must stop. The story is incredibly hammy although some Marvel veterans will enjoy the witty banter between the characters and seeing them in a less serious light.
Visually speaking, the game doesn’t hold up that well. Sure, some of the character models have been smoothed, animations improved and the textures look a little bit better than the original, but the way these elements come together, particularly in busy periods, is where The Infinity Gauntlet really brings itself down. The frame rate in this game is abysmal, and while it does get marginally better during later levels, there is still an immense amount of slowdown that really affects the whole game. It’s as if the assets of the game have been increased in fidelity but the engine itself has not been optimised to properly carry the improved assets.
We toyed around with the (very subtle) 3D effect to see if this changed anything, but unfortunately it remained to perform quite horribly. The cutscenes themselves are well drawn and animated, with the “chibi” style of the characters all being very identifiable and quite translated from their realistic counterparts. It’s a bit of a shame though to see that the main attraction of this port, the 3D, is pretty lacklustre in general; there is a little bit of depth here and there but when moving the characters across an environment, there is this weird effect that makes the image not anywhere near as clear which is quite distracting.
The Infinity Gauntlet’s gameplay is very simplistic and perfectly suited to its audience, although at times it does feel almost too simple. Each level of the game is comprised of several square-shaped rooms with a skin pretty much thrown over them. There are obstacles strewn throughout the levels that only certain characters can move—Spider-Man can rappel across gaps with his webs, while Iron Man has the intelligence to hack terminals. The game basically makes the player get through each level by changing characters whenever possible in order to overcome obstacles. It’s incredibly formulaic and it does become boring quite fast. There are a few flight levels thrown in, but these are incredibly boring and don’t really have a great sense of speed or power. Finally, there are some boss battles which require a little bit of strategy, but the crux of the gameplay involves simply smashing the attack button, as it’s incredibly hard to die. There’s simply no challenge or difficulty here, and the game doesn’t punish the player for dying either. This is great for younger players, but older players might get a little bit bored quite quickly.
I will admit that I did enjoy playing as all the different characters and utilising their own unique powers separately, but when you look past the aesthetic components of the game, it’s quite clear that each character is exactly the same but just skinned to look a little bit different. The main attacks are usually the same, but coloured differently, and the unique attacks generally do something, well, unique. Swapping is a good idea (you can only have two characters on screen at a time) but sometimes it did get quite annoying to continually go back and forth between “S.W.A.P.” stations to change characters, and almost felt like a bad way to artificially lengthen the game.
The biggest disappointment with The Infinity Gauntlet, however, is the way the game doesn’t really utilise any of the 3DS’s features. With the price point it has, players would expect something more than what is essentially a half-baked DS port, but there really isn’t anything. The touch screen itself is used as a map but one must question whether it’s needed for such small maps. To be fair, the game might take some time to complete for a young child but I do genuinely reckon that it might be a little bit too easy, even for younger children. No StreetPass, no SpotPass, not a great amount of 3D and a relatively short campaign (hardly reaching five hours) with low replay values makes it hard to see the value in the package. There is an achievement system but it really offers nothing other than shallow, arbitrary goals.
The game’s soundtrack is pretty much what you would expect to find in a Saturday morning cartoon, with some suitably epic sounding pieces. Each of the powers has a nice and authentic sound effect too. The voice work is superb, and it’s great to see so many of the great voice actors who bring the characters to life elsewhere, bringing their talents to this game too. The sound effects sound authentic and similar to what you would see in Marvel-related movies, really bringing a level of authenticity to the characters and the world.
Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet is a rather disappointing and obviously rushed port job created in an effort to make a little bit of extra money from the 3DS’s capabilities. If it properly utilised the system’s own functionality or at least provided a marginally different experience to its original DS cousin, this game might be worthwhile. However, in its current state, The Infinity Gauntlet is quite literally a DS game with a 3D coat of paint. And really, at the price it’s being offered at and the challenge it provides, it’s simply not worth it. Wait for a price drop.