Do you — or does your kid — have an all-time favorite Marvel character who, much to your chagrin, has never been featured in a video game? Does it frustrate you — or your kid — that plenty of games allow you to pair up Spider-Man, Iron Man and other well-known heroes whose tandem seems logical, but you’ve never had the chance to play as a completely incongruous combo like Deadpool and Squirrel Girl? Marvel: Avengers Alliance, long available on Facebook and newly accessible on iOS devices, has now got you covered.
Playdom’s constantly evolving, turn-based action RPG has been described as wonderfully addictive fanboy merriment (by me), and as a staggeringly slow Farmville-ish thing (by jerks I know). I’ll concede that MAA requires some patience. I’ll also point out that MAA provides players with new things to talk about a year after the movie it was originally designed to promote has come and gone from theaters. Part of the reason for that is it can take a good while to gather enough “command points” to unlock a certain character or costume … unless a player trades real money for in-game currency, which I consider cheating.
To summarize what passes for a plot, players start the game as a rookie SHIELD agent. Nick Fury pops up on the screen, says “Hi,” and alerts his new protege that a whole bunch of glowing space rocks have fallen to Earth. Supervillains worldwide have figured out that these neon gems – pieces of a substance called Iso-8 – are quite like reverse kryptonite, in that they make comic book characters stronger instead of lame. Fury tasks the agent with putting together a fresh Avengers squad to shut down Dr. Doom, Loki, The Green Goblin and dozens of other baddies currently inflicting all kinds of icky chaos on helpless humanity. Players select two heroes at a time to play against one to three enemies. Meanwhile, Playdom has announced that it plans to unveil “Season 2” of the story sometime this month.
When MAA launched, almost all of the approximately 30 heroes available to recruit had appeared in a movie: Iron Man, Black Widow, Hulk, Spider-Man, several X-Men, all four members of the Fantastic Four and so forth. Since then, the list of playable characters has expanded to more than 60, and the new additions have been getting more and more obscure. I can remember being excited to play as the incorporeal X-Man Kitty Pryde (no relation to the rapper, unfortunately), who hadn’t been playable in a video game since 1990. But somewhere out there, there must be a longtime Thundra fan who was beyond stoked to finally fight as the dimension-hopping Amazonian warrior, who recently became a playable character. Likewise for Captain America’s old WWII buddy, Union Jack. Personally I had to wiki Thundra and Union Jack to find out who the heck they were, and I still wonder how long Playdom can keep this up before they run out of characters to add to MAA.
“But wait” you’re saying. “This game moves kind of slow, and there are a lot of numbers and specific tasks involved. Isn’t this whole thing geared more toward adults?”
Eeeh … as much as MAA junkies like myself may hate to admit it, even moderately bright 5-year-olds can figure out how to play without much trouble. Ask yourself this: “Does my kid like superheroes and understand what numbers are?” If the answer to both is “Yes,” then he or she will most certainly dig MAA.