MARVEL: RUN, JUMP, SMASH / Disney / PC
 
 
"Endless runners" never seem to wane in popularity on mobile devices, and Disney tried to cut themselves a piece of the action with this Avengers-themed property in 2014. Oddly enough, it actually started out as a Korea exclusive in 2013, only making the jump across the ocean after it put up huge sales numbers there.

It's themed after the Avengers films, so Nick Fury looks like Samuel L. Jackson and Captain Marvel is a chick and etc., if that's important to you. It also has the general theme of fighting Loki and a small army of those interdimensional robo-alien things.
 


So you'll do your cardio through Trashed New York dodging obstacles, jumping pits and occasionally blasting a fool. Touch screen users can tap buttons on the left or right of the screen to jump and attack, desktop/laptop players can use the left/right mouse buttons to the same effect.

The game is a bit misleading in certain aspects, if you just go by screenshots and preview materials on the various app stores. It seems to imply you'll be playing as the Avengers and switching between them, but your bouts with them are actually relatively rare. Most of your gameplay time is spent with Nick Fury or Maria Hill. You assemble a team of up to five Avengers to accompany you, but you only play as them for bouts of about 10-20 seconds at a time when you grab tokens scattered throughout levels, and which Avenger shows up where seems to be totally random.

Even though the game charges $1 to $2 depending on where you buy it, it's still structured like a "freemium" title in that most of the characters are paywalled off to start and you have to either Grind Forever to unlock or pay real money to shortcut your way to them. You begin with Iron Man, Captain 'Murica, Hulk and Black Widow. There's about 8 or so unlockables including Thor, Winter Soldier, Captain Marvel and Spider-Man. There's also a number of bonus powers that can be paid for with fake golds or real cash.



You earn a handful of gold for each run, but it's a relatively tiny amount even for a substantial run, and the characters are super expensive. Just doing some quick mental math, if you have a run of at least a couple of minutes each time, it would take between 200 to 300 sessions to unlock each new character. And that's if you don't ever spend anything on the bonus items. They're obviously trying to manipulate you into forking over cash to shortcut this process, and each character costs substantially more than the game does -- usually three to five dollars.

Though it's a sleazy business model that's arguably mostly designed to prey on children, the game still didn't have to be entirely terrible, as the starting cast is perfectly servicable for playing. The bigger issue is that there's only one fixed level sequence that you start from the beginning of every time, so the game gets repetitive and tedious extremely quickly.

I'm also not the world's foremost "endless run" expert, but to my understanding, one of the big appeals of these games is gradually getting intimately familiar with game physics and how the character moves so that you can do really complex stuff in the later game reaches. You're constantly switching characters who have totally different jumping physics here, however. Iron Man doesn't even jump, he floats in Jetpack Jagoff style. The transitions can be pretty jarring.

You expect this sort of garbage from freemium games, but if a game charges even a dollar it should still be more substantial and have less obnoxious upselling than this. The structure of the game was not well thought out, and the whole thing comes off as downright greedy (what a shock for Disney). Production values are also ehhh, with low-res graphics and the most generic music in the world. I don't know what Korea was doing throwing all their money at this, I guess cutesy SD characters go a *really* long way there.
 
 
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