Review: Marvel Heroes Breakout

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The folks at Brighter Minds recently passed me a copy of their Marvel Heroes Breakout DVD game to have a look at. The game has superheroes, it leverages technology and it’s pretty squarely aimed at kids (despite being labeled as appropriate for “ages 6-106”), so I think it falls safely within the GeekDad framework.

First a disclaimer: For the most part, DVD-based games don’t really hold much appeal to me. They tend to be simplistic due to the limitations of a DVD player’s remote, subject to lag times and generally seem like an exercise in using technology just because you “sort of” can. To me, just because you “sort of” can adapt a video game to run on a DVD player doesn’t meant that you necessarily should do so.

Now that that’s out of the way, I have to say that my kids really do enjoy playingMarvel Heroes Breakout. My wife and I have twin boys who just turned five, and a seven year old daughter. They keep asking to play it again, which caught me off guard because they’re part of a computer and video game generation –typically, they like their games to have action and all sorts of special effects or they tend to lose interest.

The game consists of a board, a die, a DVD, 4 superhero playing pieces (Spiderman, Captain America, Wolverine and Storm) and 25 villain cards. Players can set individual difficulty levels (a nice option when different age groups are playing together) then proceed to move around the board, launching mini-games on the DVD player as indicated by the board space they land on. The games include a maze, a timed precision rooftop jump (using the DVD remote as a controller), a character scramble, an identify the villain bit, a memory matching game where the player attempts to pair up hidden superheroes without encountering villains, a Marvel quiz and the one game that actually leverages the DVD player: watching a short clip of a classic superhero animated show then answering a trivia question about the clip. Successfully completing a quiz, puzzle or task results in the player being awarded a villain card. The game is won by the first player to collect either 5 or 7 villains.

Outside of my own “technology” issues, the only sniping I can come up with? The cardboard superhero playing pieces get bent up pretty easily and my daughter pointed out that it would be nice if they supplied more than one female superhero for the girls to choose from.

I’m all for having the kids play board games, not just video games, and maybe Marvel Heroes Breakout helps to bridge those two worlds. My kids certainly like it and it won a “Preferred Choice Award” in Creative Child Magazine. At under $25US, it’s not much of a gamble and it’s definitely cheaper than most video games, so if you have younger kids (especially ones who are into comics and superheroes) you might want to consider picking up a copy.

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