DEVELOPER: PHL Collective
PUBLISHER: Outright Games
REVIEWED ON: Xbox Series X from a copy purchased by the author.
Movie tie-in games, a genre once that clogged the bargain bin of major retailers and the shelves of your local GameStop, have more or less gone the way of the dinosaur. There was a time when every major Hollywood blockbuster – especially those based on a comic book property – received one or more companion titles from publishers who were more than willing to cash-in on a film’s hype regardless of the quality of the product they were releasing. As returns began to diminish on these projects, however, digital adventures inspired by our favorite movies were relegated to limited time bonuses in mobile and live-service games or the LEGO outings from developer TT Games. Gone are the days when even something like 2013’s R.I.P.D would even get its own game, even a digital only one.
With the hunger for these projects mostly existing in those nostalgic for titles like Spider-Man 2, it’s downright surprising then that publisher Outright Games has extracted tie-in game DNA from fossilized amber to bring DC League of Super-Pets: The Adventures of Krypto and Ace to market. While it perhaps would entertain the very young demographic it’s clearly targeting, DC League of Super-Pets is the reason why games of this type have largely vanished. With barely enough content to match the runtime of the film it’s inspired by, this relic of a by gone era does very little to justify its existence with repetitive missions filled with obnoxious looping voice clips and a steep asking price.
Lex Luthor has begun to kidnap the strays found on the streets of Metropolis with plans to place them in a zoo. Wishing to instead get these animals placed in their deserving forever homes, Ace and Krypto, along with their friends Chip the squirrel, Merton the turtle and PB the pig unite together to foil Lex’s plan. Standing in their way though is an army of LexBots programmed by their evil creator to prevent the Super-Pets from accomplishing their mission.
Warner Bros.’s DC League of Super-Pets doesn’t land in cinemas until the end of the month, but you need not worry of getting it spoiled by The Adventures of Krypto and Ace. There’s very little story to speak of here with but a few lines of spoken dialogue between missions and zero footage used from the film of the same name. The credits include names like Marc Maron and Vanessa Bayer, both of who lend their vocal talents to the movie, but it’s hard to determine if it’s them voicing the same characters in this game or if Outright simply got access to some stock recordings. Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart are nowhere to be seen with both the title characters voiced by soundalikes. Ace’s performer does his best to sound like Hart, while Krypto feels more like a poor impression of Family Guy’s Patrick Warburton.
Developed by PHL collective and played as an on-rails shooter, DC League of Super-Pets can best be described as a poor man’s Star Fox. As either Krypto or Ace, you’ll soar through the skyline of Metropolis, blasting LexBots and avoiding easy to dodge obstacles with a simple dodge and brake that you’ll probably forget you have as you rarely need them. At the very least the controls are responsive, and solid feedback means it feels good to shoot at the robots that are standing in your way, but that’s about all you do for 15 missions that take about 2 hours to complete. There are 3 bosses that quicken your pace slightly, but generous checkpoints mean that even little kids won’t get stuck for too long.
What’s here is competently built, however there’s little in the way of variety. Environments are rich with color, evoking the animated project that inspires it, but as every stage features the same assets and enemies, they start to all blend together extremely quickly. When coupled with a soundtrack that features exactly one song and one-liners spouted by the two leads ad nauseam, it’s reasonable to think that even youngers players would lose interest with this game very quickly. You can choose to play as either Krypto or Ace between levels, but outside of a unique super attack for each, there’s no other differences between the two. Ace gets a slight leg up as his will target on-screen enemies, but you won’t face that much resistance selecting Krypto either. Beating levels awards you skill points that can be used to power up the heroic K9s, and you’ll have both at max power long before you confront Lex Luthor.
DC League of Super Pets‘ missions are broken into 3 districts, each of which has their own helper. Starting out the Green Lantern Chip can aid you by giving extra firepower temporarily, Morton will boost your speed and PB gives back some health while defending you with a shield. Of the trio, Morton has very little use as his boots will cause you to crash more than anything, and by the time you have PB, the game is nearly over. As you venture into new areas, it leaves the others undefended and gives Lex the chance to reinvade them. All this amounts to though is a few side-missions that are the same as the main ones, but at the very least they have some simple endless-runner sections where you have to steer around traffic and other obstructions to help break up the monotony.
Scattered about levels are cards that you can collect that are meant to represent the stray animals that you save. Once gathered, they’re sent to a shelter you can visit between your bouts of shooting robots. Upon satisfying their happiness requirements by either giving them the right toys and treats, they’re then ready to be adopted. Initially this seems like it will add some depth to a very shallow game, but it only gives the illusion of it. Matching pets perfectly to the correct owners quickly fills up a meter that gives you an extra skill point, but your shelter also rapidly fills up its meager 10 available slots. As there’s no real penalty to not creating a perfect match, you’ll being to settle on okay ones just to free up extra space for more good doggos, cats, birds, and lizards.
At $50 in Canada, there’s simply not enough housed in DC League of Super-Pets to warrant its price tag. At half of that or even less, it could be justified as an impulse purchase from a parent while making a trip to a Wal-Mart or Target, but what’s here would perhaps be better served as a mobile game. That’s not even meant as a slight to that space or those who chose to engage in its market space, it’s simply to say that DC League of Super-Pets would be an easier sell as an inexpensive distraction on a phone or tablet over a game sold on consoles and PC. What’s here controls well and is pretty to look at, there’s just simply not enough of it to hold your interest for very long.
DC League of Super-Pets: The Adventures of Ace and Krypto is available now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.