Review: PowerUp Heroes (Kinect)

Review: PowerUp Heroes (Kinect)

While enjoying elementary school recess in the late 80’s, my friends and I played various games of the imagination, from X-Men to G.I. Joe, and from Super Heroes to Street Fighter. You have never known joy if you didn’t spend 30 minutes a day running around shouting, “HADOUKEN! NO… NO! SNAKE EYES CAN’T BLOCK A HADOUKEN WITH HIS NINJA POWERS, YOU BIG BUTTHEAD!” Now, Ubisoft’s PowerUp Heroes lets me combine my childhood imagination of Super Heroes and Street Fighter into something with tangible, visible results, and it does it splendidly.

First things first, Shakespeare this is not. The main villain’s name is…Malignance. If the evil robot’s evil actions of evil didn’t tip you off, then perhaps his subtle, not at all heavy handed name will nudge you in the right direction with all the grace and gentleness of a bull in a china shop (ignoring the fact that MythBusters already busted that saying’s validity). The short story provided by the game itself is that an evil alien robot named Malignance has decided to take over Earth by transforming select individuals into an army of super-powered suit villains. Volta, a good super-powered alien whose powers I’m sure you will never be able to guess by his name alone (hint: it’s electricity), passes his powers on to your Avatar so that you can protect your world and defeat the totally evil Malignance. The story is campy, and a bit contrived, but it’s fun and it serves to progress you through the game. On top of that, the game comes with a physical comic book detailing the origins of both Malignance and Volta with similarly campy and contrived dialogue. It is, however, a great bonus that helps build on the story of the game.

There are various game modes, but the longevity of the game doesn’t seem likely. Unless a very large online community forms for online versus battles, the short campaign and local tournament battles will fall into disuse, leading to a sad existence of the occasional battle for old times’ sake. The single player campaign is fun, and very reminiscent of Street Fighter in how you move forward. Once you defeat the first opponent set before you, you’re provided with a Mission Map that shows your next fight options, and where in the world they are located. Every opponent you defeat in campaign mode earns you a new suit of powers that you can use in conjunction with another suit. This allows you to go into battle with two power sets, switchable by raising your left hand above your hand in mid-fight.

PowerUp Heroes is a very simple game. Sure, there are combos to master and skills to learn, but it’s all laid out in front of you with very easy to understand directions. Oh, you’re wearing your Volta suit and you feel like calling down a bolt of lightning on your opponent? Raise your arms above your head, then bring them down as if you were literally calling lightning down. But wait, now you feel like chaining a second attack…just twist slightly, gathering your hands together behind you, then flinging them forward. Suddenly, your hadouken (except obviously not called a hadouken) is flying into your enemy for combo damage. You can also chain combos across your different power sets, switching suits and combining attacks for various effects. There is a very simple pleasure in standing there and seeing your super-powers have a visible result, and it is an experience that you really need to have.

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With great backgrounds, detailed power suits, and wonderful power attack animations and design paired with an excellent audio impact that will make you feel like you’re in a Michael Bay action film, the audiovisual presentation of this game adds to the entertainment factor. Matched with great gameplay and a campy story, PowerUp Heroes manages to overcome its short gameplay and contrived story to provide a wonderful experience for anyone who ever pretended to be a hero as a kid. At $49.99, it may be a hair expensive for the game’s length, but for someone with a similar history to mine, it’s worth it for the fun you’ll have.


Natural movements for control
Excellent concept
Campy story
Could be longer
Contrived story
85 out of 100
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