The Collector has hunted and acquired Earth’s mightiest heroes and you must lead them into battle against Kang the Conqueror. You are the Summoner and the fate of the Marvel Universe rests on your shoulders. Original story? Not so much. But who’s really expecting one in tournament-style fighting game? Not us – so let’s go kick some ass.
The art work in Marvel Contest of Champions is great with a perfect mix between realistic and cartoony. Most of the realism comes from the character movements, which are pretty seamless and the cartoony style takes me back to the comics and cartoons that I gravitated towards as a kid. Character uniforms are from the Marvel Now era, which is sometimes cool and sometimes not (not = Hawkeye. I miss the purple wolverine mask), but I always know which character I’m playing because each character feels like that character. Yes, there are some stock moves for characters of similar stature or fight style but I’m throwing a massive uppercut as Juggernaught, I’m light on my feet as Iron Fist and I’m hunched and scrappy as Wolverine. Works for me.
The controls are simple: tap a bunch of times on the right side of the screen for a series of light attacks, swipe for a medium attack and hold then release for a heavy attack. Your left hand takes care of movement and defence by swiping left and right and holding down to block. Not surprisingly, as you attack and receive damage, a power meter builds up, eventually giving you access to special attacks. The gameplay does gets a bit repetitive a few hours in but as we’ve all come to know and love/hate about these games, that’s not where they hook you.
The hook? Character acquisition. As you pit your heroes vs. Kang’s you earn Units. Units can be exchanged for Crystals, which can be opened for a chance to add new heroes to your team. This game does a great job of building the suspense as you “spin to win” characters (you literally spin the crystal until it breaks). As you’ve probably guessed, character acquisition is also the most alluring in-app purchase available. For a price, you can buy Units and exchange them for crystals in the hopes of landing on your favourite character and adding him/her to your team. Fortunately, if you prefer to stay on the free-to-play side of mobile games, you can do so here without it impeding your progress too much. You’ll just have to let a couple of things recharge while building your team a little more slowly.
All in all, this is a fun game. Yes, the story is lacking and the gameplay is repetitive but you’re using your favorite heroes to beat the crap out of your other favorite heroes. Combine that with great artwork and a surprising amount of fluidity and you’ve got a fun game. Give it a whirl…you might just save the world.
Marvel Contest of Champions, developed and published by Kabam, is a mobile tournament-style fighting game. It was released on December 10, 2014 for Android and iOS.