More Marvel magic or a
misguided, mediocre mess?
TinyCo bring us another franchise tie-in,
similar in substance to their 2014 title
Family Guy: The Quest For Stuff except
this time it’s clad in spandex and covered in acne.
You’ll need to help college director Nick Fury assemble and
teach a team of young Avengers as they attend
classes and battle Hydra before homework.
We’ve seen licensed games like this before, Family Guy, The Simpsons: Tapped Out and so on, but Marvel games for mobile are usually beat-em-ups (or brawlers), such as the recent Contest of Champions, for one. It’s not directly tied into the relatively recent Avengers Academy comics story-line, but it does borrow a little from it.
So what’s the deal? Is it any good? Well, yes and no. As a big Marvel fan, I enjoy most things with their branding attached, this included, but it does have its downfalls.
“Director Fury has tried to get to the bottom of the mysterious time-fog but he needs
the help of a young Iron Man, among others, to begin to figure it out.”
You begin working alongside director Nick Fury and his assistant, Pepper Potts, as they attempt to helm the new Avengers Academy. Its aim: To teach young heroes and develop their powers so they are ready to ward off Hydra attacks. The story revolves around the so-called “Time-fog” which is of an unknown origin and has engulfed the academy’s campus and the surrounding areas. Director Fury has tried to get to the bottom of the mysterious fog but he needs the help of a young Iron Man, among others, to begin to figure it out.
The whole shtick of Avengers Academy is that most of the characters are just teenagers, with teenage problems who sometimes, well, they just want to party!
You’ll spend the learning part of the game with Iron Man and Wasp, recruiting Loki and Black Widow early on, then once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you’ll be able to recruit Captain America, Thor, Falcon, Enchantress, Spider-Woman, Iron-Patriot, Ant-Man and many others. These characters are the teenagers with Fury, Hank Pym and Odin (Thor & Loki’s father) at their regular ages. This is yet another mystery surrounding the academy and its these unknown elements that are at the heart of this game’s story. To make things more mystical, near the beginning a severely damaged Iron Man mask is found inside the fog, but Tony is still only in the early stages of developing his suits, so, how did it get there? What secrets is director Fury undoubtedly hiding from you? Black Widow catches on quickly and begins her own investigation into the peculiar happenings while Stark and the rest continue with their training.
“What secrets is director Fury undoubtedly hiding from you?
Black Widow catches on quickly and begins her own investigation into the peculiar happenings…”
The story unravels painfully slowly. Each task early on may only take 4 hours or less to complete but you’ll often need to complete more than one task to fulfill an objective, which in turn may unveil more of the plot. The trouble is that there is a constant promise of something bigger to come. Once a story-line begins, you’ll be keen to wrap up that tangent and find out what’s going on. There’s also a dating system which is yet to be unlocked but could allow for other interesting story-lines.
When it comes to the regular story arc, you can speed things along by upgrading your academy and its inhabitants.
Upgrades can be purchased by spending coins which are earned upon completion of the tasks that you assign to your characters. The tasks last for varying amounts of time and the size of the reward depends on how long the task takes. If you’ve played anything similar before, you’ll pick it up almost instantly.
These upgrades can also be acquired using real-world money and, as this is a TinyCo game, there are plenty of opportunities to spend your cash. There are constant reminders and recommendations suggesting how they can relieve you of any surplus money you may have in your bank account. For example, new areas which are unlocked will reveal hidden debris which needs clearing. You can do this using “Pym Particles” to shrink the junk; these particles are earned (rarely) by completing certain tasks. Alternatively you can recruit the Hulk by spending extra cash to unlock him and his ability to destroy debris himself.
The game has a very particular look; characters appear to be just shy of cel-shaded and each one has been designed to fit the “University” style fairly well with the super-suits being replaced, at least to begin with, with hoodies and jackets in the familiar colours. The camera is easy to use, too. Sometimes in these isometric-orientated games it can become irksome if a character wanders behind a building but the camera can be zoomed and rotated somewhat to afford a little more freedom which helps to avoid those potential frustrations.
A decent level of polish has been applied here too, with plenty of additional effects and top quality dialogue provided by genuine talent with Alison Brie, Dave Franco and Colton Haynes to name a few (of a pretty large line-up).
The main bug-bear here is the constant begging for your money. One of the first objectives on offer is to pay for an extra character – you don’t have to, of course, but it feels desperate. I don’t mind paying for certain items in free-to-play games. In The Simpsons: Tapped Out for example, I’ll happily shell out for donuts occasionally as I enjoy the game, so I feel I should pay something for it, just the same as I would with a console title. In Avengers Academy however, the “value” on offer makes it difficult for me to buy anything. To skip any action ahead takes alot of in-game currency and if you don’t skip it, the waits soon stack up.
To summarise, if you’re looking for another game to add to your mobile device, you could do worse than this one (especially if you’re a Marvel fan). The pacing is a little slow but the story seems to be worthwhile thus far. If you are patient, you don’t have to spend any cash, but even spending a reasonable amount is pointless as it will quickly disappear.
- Genuinely Interesting Story
- Edgy Character Designs
- Slow Pace
- Constant Money-Grabbing