Thursday, April 18, 2024

DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power – a female-forward game that lacks realism

How many animated series does DC produce, holy cow! In case you didn’t know about this one, Super Hero Girls is two seasons deep on Cartoon Network and Netflix worldwide, and the success of the series has caused Warner Bros. Interactive and Toybox Inc. to launch a companion game – DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power!

I had no idea any of this existed either, until I was browsing on my Switch and saw the bright and shiny graphics in the online game store. I have a die-hard love for female heroes, which further piqued my interest in this new adventure. While the graphics are very cartoony, most likely to appear in conjunction with the titular series, I was impressed with the quality of the vocal work and the fun style of battling possessed toys attacking the city. Not only that, but levels get surprisingly more difficult as you progress, resulting in a game that requires patience and dedication to conquer.

In ‘Teen Power,’ you mostly play as Batgirl, Supergirl and Wonder Woman. A variety of shady characters – who will probably interconnect at some point – threaten the city that they call home. These come in the form of evil toys, defunct robots from Lex Luther, and several well-known villains who pop in for the occasional boss battle. I’m several hours deep into the game and I’m only able to play as the before-mentioned three, but rumor has it you can play as Harley Quinn, Catwoman and Star Sapphire at some point. Zatanna, Green Lantern, Bumblebee, Poison Ivy, Giganta and Livewire are also heavily featured in the game, but again, I’m not sure if you are able to play as them at some point. And honestly, I hope so because I really want to play as Bumblebee and Poison Ivy. Can this wild gang of do-gooders, showstoppers and crazy kids save Metropolis from doom and destruction? I mean, probably…

I think ‘Teen Power’ thrives because of two reasons: 1) the ability to level up your characters and 2) the plethora of side quests. It doesn’t have the common RPG-style of leveling up based on experience, where you have a literal power level that makes you stronger. Instead, you win a certain amount of green stars that you can turn in for further HP, new abilities and attack strength. Each addition increases in star currency, so you really have to do a lot of side quests to level up the girls. This, of course, works well because there are dozens of side missions – from saving cats in a sewer drain, to taking pictures with fans, to beating up rival gangs and everything in between. This adds hours to game-play outside of the main narrative. In return, the price of purchase ($59.99) is well-worth it and returned in time spent playing on your Switch. Let me not forget to mention VR Mode, which allows you to replay missions and quests after you’ve completed them.

My only complaint is that it completely lacks realism, although this could be due to its target demographic. Silly love stories, extravagant trips to ice cream bars, social media followers and basic high school hijinks is what your characters encounter. I would expect a little more mature content from high school girls, especially ones risking their lives on a daily basis to protect their home and city. It almost feels like you’re playing as elementary school kids instead of young adults. Again, this could be due to the fact that ‘Teen Power’ and its predecessor cartoon is aimed at teen girls. That didn’t stop shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and even the CW’s Supergirl from tackling more realistic storylines. Different vehicles, I know, but as a 33-year-old male, I found it hard to relate to the side-stories at even a basic human level. Instead of a camera feature and clothing options, Warner Bros. Interactive could have given us the same-sex relationship nod to Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy that fans are getting in a different animated series…

A very good game, but too kid-friendly for adults.

DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power was released to the Switch on 04 June 2021. Play it today if you’re a DC fan or looking for a female-fronted powerhouse.

Michael Therkelsen

[He/Him] Michael was born and raised at the Jersey Shore and he loves love horror films, video games, hiking and cooking. He auditioned for American Idol in season 6 and worked as a vet tech before finally discovering his passion for writing. He has several short stories available for purchase on e-readers, and is obsessed with UFC, American Ninja Warrior and running half-marathons. With a wide area of interests and hobbies, he's excited to help other people in the LGBT community discovery the world of gaming.