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PSP  header logo

Justice League Heroes

For: PSP

Handy in a tights spot

Product: Justice League Heroes | Developer: Snowblind Studios | Publisher: Eidos | Format: PSP | Genre: Action, Adventure, Film/ TV tie- in | Players: 1-2 | Networking: wireless (adhoc) | Version: Europe
 
Justice League Heroes PSP, thumbnail 1
Everybody's a superhero in video games. Mario might hide his lamp under a sink, but underneath those plumbing overalls his squat frame houses super-human skills, the likes of which any princess-rescuer would be proud. Likewise, Lara Croft manages to 'rescue' artifacts from the nastiest of tombs, servicing the world's museums and providing young girls everywhere with the reassurance that heroic feats of archeology and a double D-cup bra aren't necessarily mutually exclusive.

Indeed, since everyone we play as in games, from Pac-Man to Tony Hawk, demonstrates super human characteristics, when an actual superhero-themed game comes along, it's easy to be a little underwhelmed. But Justice League Heroes – which draws its playable character roster from the likes of Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, Zatanna, and The Flash – is a reminder that these iconic comic book protagonists are the real deal.

Hurling dumper trucks at AWOL robots with your super strength; puffing back a broad chest and burning criminals with laser vision; swinging from lamp posts to fly-kick felons with a lettuce-tearing crunch; bringing justice and freedom to the streets of Gotham, New York and the wider universe: this is the stuff of boyish dreams. And this, happily, is what Justice League Heroes does best.

At its top level, the game is a rather mindless but enjoyable scrolling fighting game based on comic book publisher DC's Justice League superhero supergroup. Although the League was formed decades ago in print, it has recently been made popular again by Cartoon Network's oft-brilliant television series of the same name.

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This is the game of the cartoon of the comic, but the hand-me-down translation has done little to water down the scenario's fidelity. Dwayne McDuffle, the TV scriptwriter, also writes the script for this game, which takes in the locations of Metropolis, Gorilla City, and the Justice League's Watchtower to great effect.

You'll have a chance to play as every one of the aforementioned seven team members (which one is decided for you by the game, for the first half of proceedings). Tasks are simple: clear each level of baddies, complete simple mini-missions such as rescuing hostages, and, usually, end by engaging and defeating a tougher final boss.

Areas are attempted in character pairs, with the PSP taking adequately intelligent control of your team-mate throughout the game, so you'll get to enjoy Superman fighting alongside Wonder Woman, and so on.

Moves are broken down into core elements of physical attacks, special attacks, blocking, and jumping. Each character has both a normal and powerful standard attack, and by combining different moves into combos you can make quick and impressively painful work of your numerous enemies.

The special moves are what really defines each of the characters, however, and even casual comic fans will recognise many of the trademark ones replicated here. Additional moves can be unlocked for your characters by spending upgrade points each time a character levels up, and these points can also be spent on just improving characters' basic stats, such as strength, energy, or regeneration (your life-bar refills if you take some time out hidden from enemies).

This system enables you to customise each hero's style of play. When accompanied with specific stat-improving 'boosts' found scattered throughout levels (broken into six categories: damage, efficiency, range, luck, speed, and duration), it helps to give a real sense of character progression throughout the course of the game.

Furthermore, hidden Justice League Heroes shield icons can also be discovered, which can be spent on new ability-enhancing costumes or unlocking new characters.

Less appealing, the levels are linear, and typically amount to just a case of hacking your way through, although the environment furniture can usually be broken down and turned into weapons in a pleasing way. Inexplicably, there's no sign of the co-operative multiplayer mode found in the home console versions – a terrible oversight in a genre that multiplay greatly enhances. In its place are four rudimentary challenge missions.

Justice League Heroes isn't a particularly clever, refined, or beautiful game (indeed, some of the character art in cut-scenes looks pretty terrible). However, the mindless fun steals time and, even though it's a little short, it'll feel all the shorter thanks to the relentless pace of action and the well-balanced and implemented character management system.
 
Justice League Heroes
Reviewer photo
Simon Parkin | 15 January 2007
The absence of a two-player co-op mode mars what is otherwise an enjoyable – if rather simplistic and short-lived – journey
 
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