DEVELOPER: TT Games
PUBLISHER: WB Games
REVIEWED ON: Nintendo Switch from a copy purchased by the author.
In 2013, developer TT Games produced what this very site dubbed the best Marvel console game ever in 2016: LEGO Marvel Super Heroes. It more than earned that distinction by simply being a game that could be enjoyed by players of all ages and built by people who deeply loved the sandbox they got to play in. Whether it was the comics themselves, the animated shows or the movies of the era, there was exceptionally little that TT Games didn’t cleverly reference in what would be their inaugural Marvel outing. Now, close to 8 years after it first launched, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes has found a new home: the Nintendo Switch. While it’s still very much a game worth playing – especially if you’re a die hard lover of the source material – and perhaps the best version that has been released, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes for the Switch is hard to recommend unless portability is important to you. Some of its rougher edges also show just how much TT Games has evolved their formula since 2013.
When Loki, along with villains like Doctor Doom and Magneto among others, harness the power of Cosmic Bricks from the Silver Surfer, it’s up to the heroes from across the Marvel Universe to put a stop to their plans. Little do both camps know that a much larger threat from beyond the stars threatens to end them both. Spread across 15 chapters, the best part of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is easily its story. Not only is it frequently funny thanks to the script and performers like Troy Baker, Steve Blum and Roger Craig Smith, it expertly weaves in and around nearly every corner of the Marvel Universe and never once does it buckle under that weight. One moment you’re infiltrating a symbiote infested Oscorp as Spider-Man before you’re whisked away not long after to the X-Mansion and it never once feels gratuitous. There’s always a clear setup provided that makes sense within the story being told as to why the player is moving from one location to the next.
Though you’ll find yourself infiltrating a lot of of labs, the environments in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes rarely get boring, even as you’re essentially doing the same thing as every LEGO game since TT Games’ first Star Wars adventure. You’ll bounce from the realm eternal, Asgard, Magneto’s base, Asteroid M, and Doctor Doom’s home country, Latveria, bashing everything in sight to collect studs and unearth the pieces you’ll need to build contraptions that will allow you to progress. What’s brilliant about the design of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is that it also gives its enormous cast to feel useful. Iron Man’s armor can become a swiss army knife of sorts to solve many puzzles, but heroes without powers like Black Widow and Hawkeye also get their time in the spotlight too. It’s hard not to have a small on your face as you swap between the mutants that make up the X-Men, using their varied abilities in tandem with one another to stop the Unstoppable Juggernaut.
On top of its campaign, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes allows you to explore the island of Manhattan to pick up side-quests that provide rewards like characters, vehicles, and Gold Bricks. Gather enough of the latter, and you’ll also gain access to even more stages that unlock helpful Red Brick cheats introduced by Deadpool, superbly voiced by Nolan North. It was true back then and it remains so now, you can easily spend dozens of hours with this game, especially if you’re shooting for the elusive 100 percent. However, not all of this extra content is created equal. Road races are made artificially challenging by how stiff the vehicles can feel, and certain events where you take control of RC cars will make you repeat them over and over until you figure out how to move in a straight line.
One of the fastest ways to move about Manhattan is with one of the many flying characters you can unlock, but flight controls never once felt good in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes. In the original release, you could only adjust your height by using buttons, and if you hit them in just the wrong way, you could find yourself plummeting towards the ground instead of moving towards that ring marker you were shooting for. For the Nintendo Switch release, you can adjust your direction with the right analog stick, and while it’s not as refined as later LEGO games, it makes flying races far less frustrating. Though you rarely need specific vehicles, it’s tough to go back to having to find drops points to summon them after future titles where they could merely be selected in a sub-menu. It would’ve been nice to have a user experience enhancement feature like that patched in, as what’s here is ultimately what many have played before.
After its initial launch, additional characters were added to the case of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes like the cast of the then new Thor: The Dark World. Here everything is on the cart, making this the most comprehensive version of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes to date. While this game did come to platforms like the Nintendo 3DS, PS Vita and mobile devices, all were the companion spin-off, Universe in Peril, that came nowhere close to matching the experience of the console game. If you wanted to play this game away from a TV, the best you could do was on the Wii U’s tablet or a gaming laptop. With the Nintendo Switch port, it finally offers a convenient way to enjoy LEGO Marvel Super Heroes on the go. For the purposes of this review, many of the missions were played in handheld mode and there was no noticeable drop in performance.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is still a terrific game, thanks in large part to its highly enjoyable story mode, easy to understand controls, and bonus content that you can easily lose hours in. Unless portability is a big factor in your purchasing decisions or if you’re just looking for an excuse to enjoy this game again, there’s little reason to rebuy LEGO Marvel Super Heroes on the Nintendo Switch unless it goes on sale. At a price of about $50 in Canada, it’s a tough sell for a game that’s frequently discounted, and that’s if you don’t have it in one of your libraries already. Not helping much is the fact that LEGO Marvel Super Heroes has been bundled with the other 2 LEGO Marvel games for sometime on other platforms. For the younger crowd who are just getting into Marvel, video games, or both, this is a no brainer. For everyone else, your mileage will vary depending on how you choose to consume your interactive entertainment.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is available now on Nintendo Switch. It’s also available on the PlayStation and Xbox family of consoles, Nintendo Wii U and PC.