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Marvel Games State of the Union

or, How to Turn a Crippling Addiction Into 1K Words of Content

The opening graphic for the current iteration of Marvel Strike Force, which shows the Superior Six...there's only four of them, though, so...weird. It's left to right, Spider-Slayer, Spider-Man, Classic Green Goblin, Lizard, and Kraven the Hunter.
As you can see, the new loading screen for Marvel Strike Force has, from left to right: Evil PC, Spider-Man, Boob Glider Man, My First Sleestak, and Fancy Drummer Guy.

It’s been a while since we checked in on the gaming addictions that I allow myself. Just to remind anyone who has forgotten, willfully or otherwise: I don’t have a gaming PC. I don’t have any manner of console. I don’t have these things…because I would abuse these things. I would never get anything done. And I have plenty of ability to screw up my productivity without accessories. Anyway, the two games I’m playing are both Marvel-based and mobile: Marvel Strike Force and Marvel Snap. I document all of this here so it can be discussed with my therapist as necessary at some point in the future.

Strike Force:

The game is not just embracing the multiverse concept but tackling it in a bear hug and rolling down a hill with it. There are three different versions of Star-Lord, for example: regular, T’Challa as Star-Lord (from What If?), and Star-Lord from the Annihilation storyline in the comics. Three different Peter Parker Spider-Men as well: regular, a version where the symbiote corrupted him, and a Big Time version from some storyline from the comics I’ve never heard of. The fact they can have that many Peters and still no Hellcow…it’s heartbreaking. (Warning: I will soon mention another game that has managed to have Hellcow…and they had Hellcow on opening day.)

In order to unlock a character in Strike Force, you need to acquire a certain number of character shards. Kind of like when you used to be able to get a spider-ring with a certain number of Skee-ball tickets. They’ve stepped up the ability to nab such things and acquire characters faster…because they are introducing new characters all the time. I’m sure they have stats that show once all the big money players (aka whales) have bought theirs, at a certain point, purchases drop off so you might as well make them obtainable by free-to-play players like myself. (Although because I will occasionally throw coin at the game I consider myself a narwhal.)

A picture of Spider-Slayer, though without context it really does look like that PC you took to the thrift store ten years ago. It's back and it's pissed off.
This is straight out of the nightmares of typewriter manufacturers, starting in the early 1970s.

You power up your characters through various means that I promise you only make sense in the actual context of the game (and sometimes not even there), but the main thing is once you unlock the character you can gain more stars. They have yellow (regular flavor) and red (slightly spicy flavor). Instead of creating a third tier (argyle/minty), they’ve opted to create diamonds. You can add up to three to boost your character further. If eventually they have to add purple horseshoes, I will throw a formidable wad of coin at this game. 

It’s a game that’s been around for a little while and it’s trying to stay relevant and keep everybody happy, from newbies to weirdos like me who have been playing the game since near the beginning to leviathans who spend tons of money on the game. I think they’re doing a decent job…to the point where I am, as I said, actually a narwhal, which I hardly ever am on any game. Mostly because there’s so much free game play happening (and I remember when you used to have to pay to play games…at a mall, even) that I actually sometimes feel guilty about it. And it takes something intense to make me feel guilt, I assure you.


The Zombie Squirrel card from Marvel Snap. It's cute but its eyes are demonically glowing and it wants to eat your face.
The opening screen for Snap hasn’t changed since launch, at least not on iOS. So here, have a zombie squirrel card instead.

Marvel Snap released their PC version not that long ago, and there’s no Mac version in sight. But as a eluded to previously, they’re a game that has Hellcow in it so I can forgive a lot.

They also conspired with Midnight Sons to get me to play that, although thankfully I don’t have a PC capable of running it. But the card variants were sweeeeet.

I also broke down and with some saved gold, I bought two variants. The Dracula one…I mean, look at it. 

Marvel Snap Dracula Variant with art by David Finch. It's a very traditional Universal Monsters look for the Count.
There’s another variant with Alex Horley seeming to channel some of Gene Colan. I need that one too.

The developers also did something very interesting, which I admire and wish we could see more of. They are making changes and adjusting card strengths and powers and whatnot (often), so the game is always somewhat fluid. It doesn’t have a chance to get stale and it never gets lopsided one direction power-wise. At least not for too long. Their Owen Wilson card arrived with some hubbub because of its powers–which seem pretty powerful offhand. And what I’ve heard is that Owen came in and just smacked the crap out of a bunch of players, wreaking havoc. So much so that they nerfed him, taking him from an ongoing ability to an on reveal ability…meaning it happens once and is done. This was nuking the card, since the cases in which you could use the thing, in my opinion anyway, dropped to near zero.

But the developers came back, explained their decision, explained their process, owned up to the fact that they nuked it really, really hard and that was the wrong call, then fixed it. It was a very candid report and if more developers would handle things the same way, I think the sane gamers would be a lot happier. (There are a great number of gamers who don’t know how good they have it and seem to think every developer decision is designed to ruin their lives directly.)

The funny thing about, well, Owengate…is that I somehow completely missed all of it. Oh, I was playing the game, but I ran into Owen about three times. I played Owen a bit, but he only really affected the outcome of the game once. I hardly ever saw this card in the wild. I’m still perplexed as to how this could happen as I changed decks multiple times during that period. No idea.

Still having fun with both games, but Snap’s agility to adjust the game makes it more engaging and fun. Strike Force is, I would think, far too large a beast to operate that way. With a lot more moving parts. But they’re both still worth time and (very occasionally) coin. So my addiction shall endure for the time being,.