DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power Review (Switch)
I can always take some more Catwoman interactions
Available on: Switch
If you didn’t know, DC Super Hero Girls is a cute tv show currently in its second season, as well as some crossovers (with TTG, bleh) and a lot of online shorts (which is basically Season 1.5). Anyway, I might have binged all the episodes in like three days and it helped a bit that I didn’t realize it was in a mid-season hiatus. While the show has it’s flaws, it’s an overall cute show that I hope is given more seasons. When DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power was announced, at the time I didn’t actually know it was a show and just thought it was just some shorts as I remember shorts being aired. Before writing, I thought I was misremembering, but while writing I actually found out that I was remembering Super Best Friends Forever shorts, which while there are only five, are pretty good and they ended up leading to the creation of DC Super Hero Girls. Anyway, after I finished all the episodes (including the Super Shorts) I went straight into the game.
As this is based on the tv show, I’m sure there are some wondering if checking it out is important. I’d say you don’t have to, but it does help. In hindsight, I don’t think I needed to binge watch it, but honestly I think it helped me enjoy the game more than I would have if I didn’t watch the show. The game does give it’s general premise and a quick look into the characters so you know who they are before going in, but if you didn’t watch the show you wouldn’t know how these versions of these characters act or their relationship between one another. I at least recommend watching Season 1 (and as far as I noticed, nothing in Season 2 is referenced).
The basic premise of DC Super Hero Girls is that most of the DC characters we all know and love are teens and they happen to go to the same school in Metropolis. Now this doesn’t just mean the super heroes, though the focus is on them, and we do get a short visit to Gotham City. Barbara (aka Batgirl) moves to Metropolis in the first (and technically second) episode and she also finds out that four others there are super heroes as well, with a fifth joining them after she left Themyscira. Of course, there wouldn’t be a show if they all didn’t team up and become friends. And those girls ended up being Diana (Wonder Woman of course), Kara (Supergirl), Zee (Zatana), Jessica (Green Lantern), and Karen (Bumblebee). Though there is also the Super Villain Girls consisting of Carol (Star Sapphire), Selena (Catwoman), Leslie (Livewire), Doris (Giganta), Pamela (Poison Ivy), and Harleen (Harley Quinn) once she moves to Metropolis later on. Harleen is also actually the reason they formed their group and showed off their secret identities if you think about it…which is kind of sad considering that Harleen and Barbara are best friends. There are other characters that will pop up as well, but these are the main ones and you get to see what happens to them as they’re attending school, trying to keep their secret identities a secret (which is a wonder considering more than half of them have their bare, regular face out in the open) to keep their super heroing or villainry a secret.
Now DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power takes place, I’d say sometime after Harleen moves to Metropolis, but I feel before the episode #Alleycat happens. While this game is divided into chapters, the parts are actually titled like they are in the show. It’s just a normal day in Metropolis, well until a bunch of robots, or Demobots, start attacking Hob’s Bay. Of course, the Super Hero Girls save the day, but it didn’t exactly save Hob’s Bay as it is now mostly destroyed. Lex Luthor, due to the Demobots being owned by LexCorp, decides to put forward a plan of rebuilding Hob’s Bay through donations and high school students is highly recommended to put in their contributions (and they’ll even be able to put through buildings that they would want). Though, that doesn’t mean attacks have stopped and there seems to be a new villain roaming around and that suspicions against LexCorp is gone from the girls’ minds. So throughout the game, the Super Hero Girls, as well as the Super Villain Girls, will be figuring out who is behind hacking into the Demobots and who is behind these toys that have started attacking everyone and some targeted buildings.
In terms for the story here, I’d say if you enjoyed the show, you’d enjoy the story here. This felt very much like it would have easily fit into the show as a half-season arc. Especially with how the girls deal with other, seemingly mundane, things while figuring out the main problem. I also really liked how we got more interactions between characters and even interactions that haven’t (and possibly won’t) happen in the show. And while there were some lines here and there that felt awkward (either by how it was worded or was just voiced weird), the voice actors coming in to reprise their roles did pretty well here.
Just like the show, the gameplay will have you switch between the girls being Teens and being Heroes. When you’re just exploring outside of the high school, Old Town, or Hob’s Bay you’ll just be a normal teen. There are actually quite a few things you can do other than running around the maps. I don’t exactly remember this being mentioned in the show, but one aspect that is big is the social media app named Supersta that everyone uses in this universe. Yep, this means you can take photos, or selfies, and post them to this fictional social media. There are a good handful of side missions that require you to take a picture and/or uploading something to Supersta (or having a certain amount of followers or likes). It’s honestly pretty easy to at least get followers/likes, and you can see residents mentioning what’s trending or if something is cute or elegant. And I did enjoy taking pictures where you can change your current character’s facial expression, where their eyes are looking, and their pose if you’re taking a selfie or a photo with them in it; though I do wish there were more filters and you can change the pupils of the characters (like to stars). However, I did find it difficult to actually get the game to register that yes, I am photographing what you asked me to for this side mission. Making me take a picture multiple times for it to properly register it. Also, I really recommend disabling Supersta notifications as you will go crazy if you take a lot of photos and almost always upload them to Supersta.
Other than that, you’ll get money through completing missions and during missions. You can then put the money into buying the girls some new cute clothes to change them into, new hero/villain costumes based on their previous comic appearances, and building Hob’s Bay Projects. At first it’s going to be tight, but after a while you’ll be swimming in money. You can also pick up some side missions from the residents or from your friends and you can easily see who has a new side mission through the map. Though, there are character specific side missions so if you want to do all of them (which I recommend doing them as you go), you will have to switch between characters through all three locations. It also seems you get side missions through your friends after you do all of that character’s side missions that specifically ask for them to get more clothes and a costume.
There are also a lot of collectibles you can find. There are hero/villain logo graffiti which you have to take a clear picture of for it to count, golden hamsters which are hidden in all the missions, and regular plush hamsters that can be found when exploring as a regular teen. Okay, that doesn’t sound a lot, but there are a lot of them scattered around. Not to mention a lot of them are hard to find or get, whether it’s just hidden really well, hidden where you can easily overlook or walk past it, or in a place where you can’t really see it normally and you have to figure out how to get up there (or where you can get a clear photo of for the graffiti) as a normal teen as you sadly can’t switch so you can jump higher or fly up there. If you’re intending to 100% this game, man, you are going to have a hard time just with the collectibles. The collectibles are also a side mission you can do, which gets updated when you find around 6 of whatever it is, so you can get a reward. This is mainly money and stars, but they will also gift you new buildings for you to build.
When you’re going into certain side missions and main missions to progress the story, the girls will go into their super hero secret identities when they need to kick some robot and toy butt. Depending on the mission, there will be some restrictions like how many characters will be out fighting (as a lot of missions will let you have AI controlled support), who you can play as, and who can be on your team. Don’t worry though, as once you unlock the Super Villain Girls as playable characters, you can add them to your team as support no matter if you’re mix and matching them with the Super Hero Girls. I played the majority of the side missions (and of course all of the main missions) and I only came across one where you were only allowed to add those that were in the same group. Anyway, before starting the mission you get to choose who you want to control (assuming it’s not character locked) as well as who you want as support if the mission allows it. This is also where you’ll improve each characters stats through stars. Sadly everyone shares the same pool of stars, but these can be used to increase health/attack power and give you needed abilities. I’m pretty sure the game gets harder as it goes along regardless, but I at least recommend unlocking the first tier of each stat so you have every ability (especially for when Harley, Catwoman, and Star Sapphire joins in) as you’ll have a more difficult time if you don’t.
The combat here is pretty simple, but it can get hectic later in the game. You have just one button for attacks and if you land hits in succession it will put you in a combo, with the last hit being a “Smash” which is more powerful than a regular attack. You also have an action which mainly is aimed towards making traversal easier (like Batgirl getting the ability to use her bathook to quickly get on top of buildings), a skill action so you have another attack option, and an SP attack which slowly fills up (though it can get faster if you upgrade it and there’s a pickup that will automatically recharge it) and is the most powerful attack you can dealt out. Each of the six characters handles differently, which I really appreciate, as all of them have different attacks, different speeds, and different SP/Skill attacks that fits with their character and power that they have. And even if two character share the same Action, like Batgirl and Catwoman, it does still fit with them. Though, I have to say that Star Sapphire’s SP attack is the worst of the six as it won’t hit anything if you’re going against an enemy that can move by the time she powers up and she only goes forward in a straight line. There is, of course, a dodge button and if you dodge right before it would hit, you can get a “Just Dodge” and do a powerful counter attack.
Supergirl and Star Sapphire also has the ability to fly, which can be activated through pressing the jump button again while in air. This lets you move where others would have to jump (or use their action move) and boosting while flying forward will give them a way to deal damage when ramming into enemies or objects. However, I found the flying to feel terrible and while Star Sapphire was my favorite of the two, I ended up trying to avoid playing as them during missions. It just felt I didn’t have as much control, the camera can be terrible, and it makes battles disorienting during fights (and will just make you get knocked out of the air more than anything). It also doesn’t help that there is a dedicated button to ascend, but no way to descend unless you deactivate flying outside of when they’re in “flying forward” mode. While I was a bit disappointed that we didn’t get the other girls as playable characters, it was probably the best considering that half of them fly.
As for the AI support, most of the time they’re good, but they do have hiccups. They do seem programmed to follow you and might only attack within a certain bubble of you, so you can’t really go into one corner and expect your support to still be in the other attacking. I also did notice them getting stuck a couple times (which the enemies do too) as well.
After you complete the mission, whether it’s defeating all the enemies, protecting a building for a certain amount of time, or collecting things during a timer, you’ll get rated depending on how well you did. This include how fast you were, how much damager you (or the building) took, how many Just Dodges you got, your combo chain, and so on. In addition to the money and stars you collect during missions, either by picking them up or by defeating enemies, hitting these optional goals will grant you more money and stars. The game also gives you a quick newspaper article with a screengrab of the end of the battle, which is funny as most of the time it’s just a terrible picture. Don’t worry about not hitting them all though, as you do get the option to do a rematch unlocked later on in the story.
DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power tired to be ambitious and it worked for the game and worked against it. While flying is terrible, the social media aspect could have been expanded more (like the characters will cycle through the same three-ish descriptions if it’s not a story/mission related post), and some aspects of missions making it more difficult; I did enjoy the character interactions, I liked how it was structured like the show, the story was enjoyable to go through, I really appreciated how each character handled differently, and there is a lot more to do here if you want to.
I’d say if you, or maybe a kid, liked and enjoyed the show, they’d enjoy this game. I didn’t know I would enjoy it going in, but I knew I really liked the show, and I ended up doing way more than I was originally planning. Though, I still won’t recommend getting this for $60, rather around the $20-30 range.