Video game tie-ins are a rare breed — and good video game tie-ins are even rarer – but DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power is proof that it can be done. As an adaptation of the cutesy cartoon series, it’s very faithful and replicates the unique visual style of the show well. But as an open world beat ’em up filled with quests and great combat, it’s superb fun anyone can enjoy.
The premise of the game is simple (and based very closely on the source material): you play as teen heroes saving the world from evil menaces, cleaning up the local city, helping friends, and hanging out. The game’s open world structure means you can roam around bright, colourful locales as much as you want hunting collectables and quests as you work your way through the game’s simple, all-ages story.
There’s nothing too deep about the game here and it never gets too complicated, meaning it’s perfect for its primary target audience: young girls. Of course, it’s not just a game for girls, but its existence in the market is important. Games made with young girls in mind are still rare, and it’s great to see Nintendo publishing a quality, AAA-title in that arena.
In DC Super Hero Girls, you play as a number of iconic DC superheroes including Supergirl, Batgirl and Wonder Woman. Each has their own unique move sets and open up the world in different ways. Wonder Woman has stronger, ground-based attacks; Batgirl has Arkham Asylum-style chain attacks; and Supergirl has an array of heavy-hitting superpowers like flight, heat vision and ice breath.
You’ll have to commit to one for each quest you take, but any can be selected in the open world, or taken on individual quests.
Personally, I found Supergirl to be the best option because her flight is invaluable for larger enemies and quick attacks — but each hero has their own strengths and weaknesses. It means you’ll want to dip in and play as each of them to build their powers for larger battles and ensure you have a well-rounded team.
And speaking of battles, the game has plenty. While exploration is key to completing quests and hunting down collectables, the primary gameplay of DC Super Hero Girls is all to do with battling. You’ll hunt down and destroy killer robots, face-off against waves of creepy, possessed dolls and fight the cartoon’s entire, villainous cast in larger-scale cinematic boss fights.
Livewire and Giganta make up the first gamut of bosses, and both battles are well-designed and very different. Livewire requires quick thinking as you destroy telephone poles to cut her off from power, and Giganta is a giant chase through a city street. They’re all a lot of fun, and operate as a great introduction for any young game player. (The simple buttons mean anyone can figure out combat easily.)
Even as an adult, I found myself rapt by the colourful world and fun, comic-style action of the game — and there’s plenty of easter eggs to keep long-time DC fans happy.
It actually reminded me a lot of Bully, which is a strange comparison to make, but between its school-themed open world and mini-quests, it shares a lot in common with the classic Rockstar title.
It’s also packed with things to do, from dressing up your heroes to finding hidden mascots and becoming a social media star. You can easily skim your way through the game’s main story (which is fairly hearty), but there’s also plenty of reasons to go for a walk and discover everything hidden behind alleys and on rooftops as you go.
There’s even a fun little camera-based quest which lets you build your social media following as you get snap-happy with the game’s photo mode. (A great detail I enjoyed was that every ‘good’ photo will catch the attention of the Daily Planet.)
It’s a fun mechanic, and just one of the reasons why Teen Power‘s cutesy, comic-book style antics are so endearing. But the entire game is a gem, and great for any young players.
Going into DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power, I was ready to be wrong. It’s rare for tie-in games (or ‘games for girls’) to be filled with such care and attention, but this blew me away. It’s got heart, humour and just the right amount of challenge to make the game consistently fun and exciting. Anyone who picks up Teen Power is in for a real treat.
You can see the first hour of gameplay from the official Kotaku Australia Twitch stream here. DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power is whole bunch of fun, and I’d strongly recommend it for anyone who enjoys a good beat ’em up.