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Nintendo DS Review: Justice League Heroes

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Some things, like DS ports of a current console game, are better off being left alone. Justice League Heroes is another DS title falling into the same ugly trap as Need for Speed Most Wanted and Marvel Nemesis.

It's not the proper hardware for a game like this, without significant changes, and in trying to make this an accurate port, the developers failed to complete anything resembling a complete product.

The key issue here is abysmal and unforgiving collision detection. As an overhead action RPG, it's crucial that the player can take out masses of enemies that spawn infinitely until portals are destroyed. It's an impossible task even for Superman.

Characters punch straight ahead, and if the enemy is even slightly off to the side, there's no contact. Clunky digital controls make it nearly impossible to fight an enemy off the eight directions provided by the d-pad.

The lock on system used in an attempt to alleviate this problem is sketchy at best; it rarely finds the right character for the upcoming attack. The only way to ensure targeting accuracy is to use the stylus and touch them. That's hardly a convenient way to play in the midst of a 10-character struggle for survival. Also, all of this happens after the longest load times in the history of the console. Yes, that says load times.

Camera controls are left to the touch screen too, and given the already terrible camera by default, this hardly helps. As if that wasn't enough punishment, it swings a full 25 degrees with every tap, causing disorientation and frustration.

The overhead viewpoint barely allows the player to see more than a few feet in any direction, and in an even more baffling decision, the map on the top screen gives the player nearly the same range of limited vision only in simplified form.

Only four characters are playable in total even though the Justice League is comprised of eight DC icons. The other half of the roster can be used for special charged attacks, which usually cause more slowdown than effective strategy. There's little excuse for slowdown given how little detail is present on the characters and the view, yet it occurs regularly in crowded areas.

In another slap in the face to fans, nearly all RPG elements have been removed… in an action RPG. Leveling up to maximum strength at level 25 is just that. There are no options to add powers, new moves, or increase specific attributes. An on-screen prompt lets the player know they've leveled without any indication as to what exactly that means. The manual simply says it increases their powers and abilities. Did your punching power just increase? You'll never know.

The only positive aspect of this disastrous DS port is the high quality video introduction and cartoon trailers. They offer more excitement and production values than every level of the game combined. It will require more than a few super powers to make it through this mess.

Justice League Heroes is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for Mild Fantasy Violence. This game can also be found on: GBA, PS2, PSP and Xbox.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.