The world of first party game development is often dominated by big budget AAA titles like The Last of Us Part II, Gears 5 and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Sequels and cinematic set pieces abound, with much less time or resources devoted to smaller experiences. But every once in a while, a smaller experience gets the spotlight in between those juggernauts. This time, it’s Nintendo with DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power, an action-adventure game based on the cartoon and aimed at a younger audience than many of Nintendo’s other games. It’s a solid, but not great, game that definitely hits the mark for their target audience, but will fall flat for others.
DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power follows Barbara Gordon (Bat Girl) and her cadre of friends as they navigate both high school, and their responsibilities as superheroes, while investigating a series of unusual and weird attacks on the city they live in. It’s a largely light-hearted story, filled with younger versions of characters you’ll like already know (such as Carol Danvers, Diana Prince, Harley Quinzel, Selina Kyle and more), that relies on humour and light touch story moments more than anything. There is the odd moment that gets a touch more serious, but you’ll largely be in for a fun ride and not much else. Couple this with writing that is sure to grate on some people’s nerves, but is totally on the mark for the chosen audience and brand, and you’ve got a story that is solidly humorous, but nothing special.
Honestly, that last statement explains quite a lot of DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power. Especially its graphical style. The game is extremely faithful to the original cartoon’s aesthetics and style, with big eyes and flat colours that would totally at home in the show. It’s a really solid style that translates well to a videogame, and doubly so for one that likely had a lower budget. It allows the game to get away with characters and environments being extremely basic and lacking in a lot of detail, without looking terrible. With that said, the flat textures, extremely sparse environments and general lack of detail in the world definitely still detract from the overall experience. Throw in NPCs animating at weirdly low rates until you’re a few metres away from them, and DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power is far from an ideal visual experience for those that can’t look past its shortcomings.
There are a few different tasks to accomplish while in the game, but combat is where you’ll spend a good chunk of your time. Much like most other elements of the game, the combat here is solid, but lacking in a lot of complexity. Combat plays out much like a character action game, as you lock on to enemies, dole out combos, perform perfect dodges and retaliate with counter attacks, and take advantage of special attacks. It has all the building blocks of a fantastic combat experience, but strips back much of the complexity and difficulty for its target audience. I found that I could get through most encounters simply mashing attack and performing the odd dodge, with only a few encounters pushing me outside of that zone. Some additional complexity is added as you unlock new abilities and attacks, but it never really seems to go beyond surface level depth. What this means is that younger players won’t be put off by complex mechanics, but more experienced players might find themselves growing bored as they continue through the game.
Outside of combat, your time is spent completing side quests, finding collectables, and buying new clothes. Most of the side quests I completed through my time with the game were all relatively simple, involving finding a missing item, getting a number of collectables or fighting a few enemies. There wasn’t much variety to them, so I gradually drifted away from them as I progressed through the game. New clothes are just cosmetic items, so don’t expect to gain additional bonuses from them, but it was nice to be able to swap outfits in the game as I played. Taking photos for the in-game fake social media network is potentially the most interesting aspect of exploration, as you find triggerable events to photograph and post. It also ties into certain side quests, which can only be taken on after reaching a certain following in the game.
Where DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power is at its best is in the manic energy it portrays. Through its colourful style, over the top characters and upbeat music, the game focuses on keeping the energy high and flowing. There are the occasional dips here and there, but the majority of the game is all about having fun, living life and keeping your energy up. Is it a deep or complex story? No. Does that really matter? No. Sometimes, all you need is a bit of fun, and that’s something the game delivers on in spades. If you’re happy with the trappings all being a bit basic, DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power is a solid and enjoyable game.
DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power was reviewed on a regular Nintendo Switch with a review copy provided by the publisher. For more information, check the official website.
- Super positive energy - Colourful art style
- World is a little too empty - Mechanically a bit too simple - Not enough variety in side quests