Foolish is the person who looks at a tie-in game aimed mainly at younger players and instantly dismisses it as a load of old bums.
Of course, most of the time they’re completely right – we still have occasional nightmares of that time we played Hotel for Dogs on the Wii – but every now and then a licensed game will go above and beyond its remit and deliver real quality.
DC's Justice League: Cosmic Chaos is one such game. While it would be easy to shrug it off and assume it’s a half-hearted superhero game designed to keep the young ‘uns busy for a few hours, what it actually offers is an entertaining action game with a decent-sized campaign and some genuinely funny writing.
The game’s plot revolves around occasional Superman villain Mr Mxyzptlk, who’s arrived at Happy Harbor, Rhode Island (the location of the Justice League’s Secret Sanctuary) to interrupt the inauguration of former Justice League member Snapper Carr as mayor. Summoning his supervillain pal Starro and capturing Snapper, Mxyzptlk declares himself the new mayor and plans to take over Happy Harbor for his own mischievous deeds.
It’s up to Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman to save the day, and the player is able to switch between the three of them at will during play by toggling through them with the d-pad. Naturally, each has their own abilities and special moves, more of which are acquired over the course of the game, but from the start, Batman has his batarangs, Superman has his laser eyes and Wonder Woman can use her lasso to pull enemies towards her.
Combat is generally handled well enough, and could probably be described as Diablo-lite, offering a similar isometric perspective as you beat up waves of enemies, lowering their energy bars and collecting loot as they’re defeated. A dodge move is handy for avoiding attacks at the last minute, and the ability to switch characters mid-battle makes it easy to juggle each hero’s unique powers and trigger, say, one of Superman’s more powerful special moves while Batman’s is recharging.
It’s hardly reinventing the wheel but it's sloppily handled either, with standard attacks landing with just the right degree of satisfaction. What’s more, the five difficulty levels – ranging from ‘Story’, where combat is very easy, to ‘Heroic’, which will test even the most hardened players – should ensure that this is a game that appeals to more than just children despite its cartoonish appearance.
Driving this point home are the numerous unlockable outfits, which can be acquired by collecting comic book pages scattered throughout the game's open world. These costumes span each character’s entire comic book history, going all the way back to the suits they first wore in their initial incarnations. A lot of these outfits will probably be lost on younger players but will appeal to longtime comic fans, further making it clear that this isn’t just a kids’ game.
All this fan service would be for naught if the game itself wasn’t entertaining, but the wide range of missions and side-missions are ably supported by genuinely well-written, entertaining dialogue that should appeal to young and old alike. We’re wary of getting into spoiler territory so we’ll give an example from the game’s (slightly choppy) animated intro instead.
At one point Mxyzptlk asks Superman what his favourite food is, to which he excitedly replies “pretzels”. Mxyzptlk then promptly turns Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman into giant pretzels, causing Superman to apologise to his friends, explaining that “pretzels are my kryptonite”. This makes a frustrated Batman remind Superman: “Kryptonite is your kryptonite.”
The frequently funny script is performed by an all-star cast, with Nolan North (Nathan Drake) as Superman, Vanessa Marshall as Wonder Woman (having played her before in previous animated films) and animated Batman veteran Deidrich Bader taking on the role of the Caped Crusader again. Main villain Mr Mxyzptlk was reportedly supposed to be played by comedy legend Gilbert Gottfried, but he passed away last year and so the character is portrayed by Dana Snyder (best known as Master Shake in Aqua Teen Hunger Force) who absolutely nails the performance.
It ticks the fun box and the funny box, then, but Cosmic Chaos isn’t a perfect game, most notably when it comes to performance on Switch. The frame rate is all over the place and is constantly chugging and stuttering, especially when exploring the larger open-world Happy Harbor area. Things improve a bit when you’re fighting indoors, but it still never threatens to ever reach stability.
Switch to handheld mode – which, incidentally, we struggled to do at times because the game occasionally failed to realise we were no longer using the Pro Controller and wouldn’t accept the Joy-Cons until we exited to the Switch’s OS – and the performance improves ever so slightly. Sadly, though, the crisp docked visuals are made blurrier as a result, which is a particular shame given its cel-shaded style.
Also a shame is the fact that there’s no co-op in the main story mode. There’s an ‘Instant Action’ mode which does allow two players to play together but we found this a bit mindless, with no real progress to speak of (it even unlocks all your abilities and all the costumes, meaning there’s really nothing to play for). With co-op in the main story, this could have been a viable new alternative to the Lego games.
Despite its flaws, anyone looking for a solo adventure that will appeal to all members of the family could do a lot worse than Cosmic Chaos. An average player will get through its story in about 10-15 hours (depending on whether you sit through all the dialogue and take on all the side-quests), and it’s written well-enough to make you want to keep playing. It’s just a shame that the performance isn’t as polished as the script.
DC's Justice League: Cosmic Chaos is a fun action brawler with a wide enough range of difficulty levels to appeal to both younger players and older superhero fans who aren't above watching funny cartoons. Its technical issues and lack of co-op let it down, but what's there is an entertaining game that'll last you a decent time.
This looks kinda fun. Not something I’d pay full price for, but I’m a sucker for anything with superheroes, so I may check it out in a few months.
This looks like something i could get into. The combat seems really fun from what i've seen and i like how you get to fly around the city as superman. Another one on the wishlist!
Removed - off-topic
Could be a fun game to kill a few hours grinding with friends.
Wish these reviews covered what the online stability is like. If it suffers frame drops in single player is it unplayable in multiplayer??
Not having coop in the main game is a deal-breaker, but also, why not offer 4 characters and have Batgirl too? Then they'd have two men and two women as playable characters! If they fix performance and added Batgirl I might consider it since our daughter is very into Batgirl...
This does not look like a game that should have ANY performance issues.
Eh I’ll stick to the Arkham trilogy, GOTG the game spiderman ps4, miles morales or Infamous really anything but this
I own all of those games as well. However, can't play them on Switch (no, streaming GOTG does not count). So for a portable superhero fix this might fit the bill if I can find it on sale. (And yes, I do own all the Lego games and Ultimate Alliance). I wish they would just port Asylum & City already!
@WhiteTrashGuy definitely wouldn’t be streaming Guardians. But If we are talking about games playable on switch then I would just say lego. I don’t see why asylum city and I get it’s not popular but orgins aren’t on switch in a trilogy
There is no reason an Origins through City trilogy is not available.
@Chaotic_Neutral I didn't cover the performance in online multiplayer because there's no online multiplayer. But if you'd like me to make something up, let's say 'about the same'.
Game that looks like this shouldn’t have performance issues.
@scully1888 that will be why then sorry.
I assumed a modern Diablo Lite would have online as standard
Would it be possible to have a tag at the top of the page (where it says system, publisher etc) saying if a game has couch co-op, online or is single player only. It would mean we don't need to read a review for a game that doesn't meet our needs.
@WhiteTrashGuy I actually want to shout out DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power for Switch. It’s pretty decent for a superhero fix if you like the art style. Some fun beat ‘em up levels and a few nice open-world city areas to explore. Definitely satisfied my superhero itch for a bit!
Yeah, my kids really dig the cartoon so I was thinking about picking it up for them so we could play it together. Still waiting on a deep sale! ; )
I have never seen two cons that are more of a flag for not buying a game.
What a poor effort for the Switch release, yikes! This game doesn't exactly have intricate visuals, there's no reason it shouldn't perform flawlessly, this is just another lazy port. This is getting old at this point, developers need to do better.
@Ratchet916 maybe the switch needs a successor
@WhiteTrashGuy your right. I understand Knight but all the others should be on switch
@Ratchet916 It’s OG games what did you expect this is one of thier better games
@sixrings Honestly, I don't think so. It's easy to blame the hardware, but as @Ratchet916 said, there is no reason for a game with such simple graphics to perform badly. I've seen way more advanced games working perfectly, so no successor needed.
Also, longer life cycles of consoles mean that developers will have to show us something more interesting than empty shells with pretty graphics, so it's a winning situation for gamers
@sixrings Perhaps, and I'm sure that's well in the works at this point, but it still doesn't excuse poorly optimized ports at this point. This game has simple, although charming graphics, the Switch should play this one easily without a hitch. Obviously first-party titles are a high bar since Nintendo has intimate knowledge on the strengths and weaknesses of the hardware, but we've seen countless examples of games that are visually far more complex and still run beautifully. Stop giving developers a pass for putting such little effort into their games.
@sixrings that’s a new one
A lot of the types of games i would consider to be an "empty shell" are things like asset flips or shovelware which can show up on any system even less popular ones like wiiu or vita had their share.
Though regarding people discussing new hardware i feel like some of the more impressive games that push the system are better advocates for improved hardware than games which feel more like they suffer from optimisation issues.
TBH im really hoping that the next system does end up being a backwards compatible "switch 2" since not only will it mean the base switch can continue to be supported but it would open the door to many games which otherwise wouldnt be viable on current switch (at least without some major caveats)
No multiplayer story mode?!? That instantly killed it for me. I was keen for this game as something to play through with my son. Now it's DOA.
My daughter would be all over this 3-4 years ago. Saw some gameplay footage of this and I thought it was quite decent. Might as well get it for myself on a deep sale then
@Mgalens Sure, the shovelware pops up everywhere, but I was referring to a different phenomenon - nowadays western AAA games are very graphics driven and they offer little more than graphics. The stories are very weak, and even though they are filled with dialogues, it doesn't connect because of poor writing. Now if we cut off the cool graphics, the western studios will have to step up their games. It may sound crazy now but western AAAs actually meant something back in a day, and their demise was a heavy blow to the industry. Nowadays if you want a good story, music or design, you buy a Japanese game or an Indie. In the 90s and 00s western games could actually provide the experience on the same level. And the reason why they cannot compete now is most probably because they sell the games based on graphics alone, since this is their only redeeming quality.
Switch 2 really should have backwards compatibility, that way we won't have the remaster of a remaster of a remaster. Looking back, there was a time when the Switch was filled with Wii U games brought to the new system, and all 5 people who had Wii U (including me) had nothing to play because they had those games already.
You can still find a lot of those good games even on systems with more power. The switch can even end up missing out on them such as the new star ocean which is considered by fans to be a return to form for the series along with games like DMC5 and to use an example from a game i really enjoy, dragon quest builders 2 is a fantastic game though on switch it sufferes from the performance taking a big hit when you start building larger structures which can make it feel bad to play.
Though often it can feel like games which suffer on switch are smaller games such as some indie titles, since sometimes a studio may not have the resources or ability to optimise the game.
Though in a lot of cases a game not feeling as creative can happen just as much with smaller games than larger ones, for example i found games like Mario odyssey, galaxy, sunshine etc to extremely unique taking mario to strange and creative new places while the NSMB series i enjoyed overall but was not a fan of how all 4 of the games used the same settings for their levels.
discussions on switch getting new hardware are often less about it having high end specs (since the ability to play handheld is priority) but rather closing the gap just enough to
make some of those games more viable to release or improving the performance/resolution.
plus it would be interesting to see what developers like monolith could get out of the newer hardware.
As a HUGE DC fan, I picked this up at launch and it's an enjoyable game, but, as mentioned in the review, it really does need some performance patches. That said, it's still playable, and above all... Fun!
@scully1888 "It’s hardly reinventing the wheel but it's sloppily handled either", I guess a "not" is missing before "sloppily"?
Anyway, great review, I'll consider getting this game at some point (even more so if they eventually improve the performance on Switch) thanks to it!
Darn, looks like it would be so fun with couch co op. Shame they didn’t add it, though if the performance is that bad already I guess it makes sense. I’ll grab this when it has a sale since I like these kinds of games.
@JohnnyMind I was going to post the same thing. I think they need to add that word in if it was left out by accident.
Yeah while im also in the crowd that really hopes for a successor as mentioned in another comment i feel a better advocate for improved hardware is games which feel like they push the system to its limit rather than something where it feels like optimisation is an issue.
@Mgalens I totally agree, the Switch is obviously long in the tooth at this point and it was built with underpowered hardware to begin with. But like you said, optimization is clearly an issue here and shouldn't be excused. Knowing Nintendo, we're still a long way off from an upgrade, so devs need to step up and put in the work if they want my money.
Im definitely hoping an upgrade or even just news of an upgrade isnt too far off since it would be nice to see what some of the studios that made some of the more impressive switch ports could do with it alongside more games being viable.
The switch has been my favorite console in years but sometimes it can feel like it takes a lot of optimisation just to reach a stable 30fps let alone 60 with some games, even some of the more ambitious exclusives like Xenoblade 3 can still drop below 30.
Really though im just hoping that we know what the plans are for the next system even if its over a year off since if it still keeps the "hybrid" functions of the switch then im definitely going to pick one up wheres if it ends up going in a completely different direction i will likely go all in on steam deck.
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