We don’t ask much of our kid-aimed cartoon-based video games, and most don’t give us much in return — just several hours of harmless, colourful fun to keep our children entertained while we adult. But Switch exclusive DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power, with its combo-based battles, RPG-style progress, city management, and simulated social network, gives us quite a lot to play with.
DC Super Hero Girls is an entertainment brand created by DC Comics and Mattel to open up the world of comic book heroes to a whole new audience. Launched in 2016 as a series of dolls and toys accompanied by animated shorts, it spawned a popular animated Cartoon Network series in 2019. Developed by Lauren Faust of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fame, the show follows the adventures of six super-powered teenage girls as they deal with the highs and lows of life at Metropolis High.
It’s good-natured, goofy fun with a message, as Batgirl, Wonder Woman, Bumblebee, Zatanna, Supergirl, and Jessica Cruz’s Green Lantern attend classes with characters that are very obviously the alter egos of the likes of Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, and Catgirl.
DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power captures the silly spirit of the show perfectly. You initially control Barbara “Batgirl” Gordon, Kara “Supergirl” Danvers, and Diana “Wonder Woman” Prince as they navigate the pitfalls of teenage superhero life.
In one chapter, Supergirl is lured into a trap by the villainous Livewire, resulting in an unflattering photo being uploaded to social media website Supersta (yes, spelled Supersta). Supergirl, in her civilian identity, travels to Metropolis’ Old City to reconnect with her fans. In a later chapter, Batgirl and Harley Quinn battle over a limited edition Batman comic book even though in their civilian identities the two are the best of friends and would gladly share.
There’s a large focus on friendship in the game, but also a fair bit of fighting. Lexcorp’s robotic drones have a bad habit of going haywire, while a mysterious puppeteer is bringing toys to life and making them attack the innocent people of Metropolis. During moments like these our teen heroes switch to their superhero personas in order to take out the trash with a somewhat sloppy but satisfying combo-based fighting system.
Battling bad guys starts off simply. All three heroes have an attack button. Hitting it with the right timing starts a combo. Enough hits in a row initiates a powerful smash. When enemies attack, dodging their blows or projectiles at the right moment opens them up to a powerful counter attack.
Each hero has her own special moves that can be unlocked using stars gained by doing battle or completing a wide variety of side quests. They each have their own base skillset as well, with Supergirl capable of flight, Wonder Woman wielding a sword and shield, and Batgirl harnessing the power of pure unabashed enthusiasm. She is the Ari Notis of teenage superheroes.
The girls also collect money during their adventures. Coins are used to purchase clothing items for fashion purposes, but also to participate in this weird city-building project. The Hob’s Bay neighbourhood is being renovated by Lexcorp, and the bald-headed genius has decided to let local high school students determine which buildings are erected, because that’s how such things work. As I put it on Twitter over the weekend, “Um.”
It’s all in good fun, though. Playing through the game I unlocked and immediately erected a giant pink fashion shop, which unlocked a trio of new purchasable costumes for my girlfriends. Maybe a city planned by high school students isn’t such a bad idea.
DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power isn’t the most technically advanced game, but it tries real hard. It’s got a couple of vast open areas to explore, with all sorts of bouncy bits to help the less airborne heroes get onto rooftops to find collectibles. The city spaces are dotted with repeating scenery and vehicles. I am sort of digging the way far-off NPCs start dropping animation frames to save CPU cycles. It’s kind of charming, really.
And hey, there are two large neighbourhoods to explore, one you get to plan yourself. That alone is much more than I expected by a cartoon tie-in released with very little fanfare. I certainly didn’t think we’d be getting full voiceover from all the main characters, or the ability to eventually play as three of the series’ “bad girls,” Catwoman, Harley, and Star Sapphire.
As games I’d play with my kids goes the only thing missing is some sort of co-op play, but DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power is entertaining enough that I don’t mind letting my children sit back and watch. I mean sit back and watch my children play. Of course.