It didn't surprise me that The Lego Movie was entertaining. That company's track record has been nothing short of stellar lately. What is surprising is how many rights Lego has access to. Shockingly little internet ink has been spilled over the fact that a single toy company has permission to put out products that involve, among other names: Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and the entire Marvel universe. That's not even a cash cow - it's a cash minotaur.

I had watched a friend play one of the many Lego-themed video games, and while I thought it looked pretty fun, it also seemed a little outside my realm, age-wise. Yes, yes. I know playing Cake Mania all the time isn't the height of mature gaming. But still, the Lego games struck me as only appealing to kids. When a sale on Steam dropped the price to five bucks, though, I knew this was the perfect opportunity to give one of these games a whirl. I think all of these games have identical gameplay, so it just came down to a matter of which characters I wanted to play around with. I selected LEGO Marvel Super Heroes from the list, and dove in.

From a story standpoint, it's a really well-written game, despite its simplicity. The bad guys have stolen "cosmic bricks" in order to build a super-weapon. There's also the small matter of Galactus coming to swallow the world. Little in-jokes pop up frequently, both in dialogue and in animation. The whole thing is breezy and clever. As to the gameplay, on each level, you control a few Marvel characters and work your way to a boss fight by taking out minions and solving little puzzles that only certain superpowers can resolve. Need to get past a camera? Use Black Widow to slip by unnoticed. A switch you need to activate is hiding behind a fire? Have Iceman put it out. Once you've completed a level on the Story Mode, you can come back in Free Play with different characters in order to complete side-missions. Stan Lee is trapped in some form of disaster on each level, and figuring out which character to bring to save him is lots of fun.

There is a problem with this game, though, and it's a big one. The controls are not intuitive, and they're not explained well. Why is easier for me to execute complicated spins, deflections, and acrobatics in Assassin's Creed than to get a blocky version of Mister Fantastic to jump across a gap? How do I access side characters necessary to completing side missions, and why does it require a Google search to figure out the answer to that question? I'm told that playing the game by hooking up a console controller to the PC makes gameplay a lot more fluid, and while that's nice to know, it shouldn't be necessary.

Overall, though, I'd give this game a nice, square thumbs up. It's definitely a great game for kids, and a pleasant way to spend a lazy afternoon for us adults as well. Later this year, I hope to be immersed in games that explore our rights to privacy, games in which I'll execute corrupt government officials, and games that hand over the reigns to entire civilizations. For now, though, it's nice to just watch a cubical Spider-Man quip his way through the Oscorp building.

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: B


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