How LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 allowed me to be a hero to my children and how that makes it priceless to me.
At some point over the last year, I realised I had turned into my Dad. I’d fought it for years but some things are inevitable I suppose. I’m not talking about my hairline receding (it’s in full blown retreat) or how my waist line seems to be expanding exponentially despite eating relatively the same things for a decade. I’m talking about my Dad’s (and now my) bewilderment with what’s popular with “the youth”. When I was younger, my Dad was constantly perplexed with the mere concept of video games. “So…What’s that?” he would ask, while pointing at the perfect red form of Cool Spot on the SNES. He’d stand behind me rubbing his head trying to figure out why I found games so fascinating before retreating to his garage to tinker with his cars and motorbikes. He’d catch me reading comics late at night and take them from me (and, as I write this, I expect he probably read them himself) and told me to go to sleep. Now it’s my turn to do the same. I’ll walking into my living room to see all 4 of my boys (1 x 2 year old, 5 year old twins and my 8 year old step-son) quietly watching a cartoon of someone opening blind toy eggs and think to myself “…Why?”. On other occasions, I’ll find them all watching someone play a game on YouTube, which in itself isn’t anything unusual – except we own the game that they’re playing. “Wouldn’t you prefer to play that game rather than watch someone else play it?” I’ll ask, mystified by the whole thing. “No. It’s okay” they reply, leaving me baffled. Totally and utterly baffled.
It’s rare that the tastes of my children and I overlap recently (they’re all very much their own person with their own unique personalities) but with the LEGO games, created by TT Games, the Venn diagram of our respective interests looks like concentric circles. We all like to play games, we all like LEGO and the licensed games and original LEGO properties are almost always something we already have an interest in. This has never been more true that with LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2.
Now, I’m not going to re-tread what I said in my review of the game but to summarise, I called LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 the best family game of 2017 and among the best LEGO games ever made. They’re sentiments I mean wholeheartedly and that I stand by. Since publishing the review, I’ve been asked why I like the game so much on a few occasions on Facebook and on Twitter and the answer has always been this – “It’s not because ‘I’ like the game. It’s because ‘we’, my family and I, like the game, played it slowly together and enjoyed it immensely”. The truth is, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 helped me connect with my children, to share something, particularly my step-son, in a really special way that made me feel like a hero to them. Allow me to explain…
For my 5 year old twins, playing a LEGO game is all about the characters and their abilities. They’re both great problem solvers and understand the constructs of most games they play so they completed the game together in co-op and needed very little advice to get through the game’s 20 main story missions. Even though they ‘finished’ the game weeks ago, they still play on LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 as often as I’ll let them, just roaming around in the hubs and trying out the characters and what they can do. The kicker here is that while they’re in bed and asleep, I load up their save game and complete a few of the levels on free-play to unlock more characters. This means that the next time they play, they’ve got all new characters to play with. The sheer thrill they get from trying out new heroes and villains, screaming “THIS ONE CAN FLY!” or “SHE HAS LASERS!”, is a joy to behold. I wish I would have recorded their reactions when they found the slew of characters added by the Agents of Atlas and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 DLC. When they realised that the Rocket from the DLC could fly, I thought one of them would explode with excitement. The best thing about this? Each time they see there are new characters to play around with, they turn to me and say “Thanks Daddy” and give me the biggest hugs imaginable.
As for my 8 year old step-son, he’s much harder to please than the twins but we’ve still had an absolute blast together with LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2, taking the game right through to 100% completion. Being older, he has much more of an understanding about who the main heroes and villains are – but not all of them. A master stroke by TT Games was to include lesser known Marvel characters and worlds within LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2. This is how my step-son and I bonded the most – by discussing those characters in the game that he hasn’t seen in a cartoon or in a movie. Handing down the comic book knowledge from my misspent youth, explaining who Giant Man is (and relating that to his existing knowledge of Ant Man), talking about The Grandmaster and the devilish games he has played with the Marvel heroes over the years and delving into the history of Kang the Conqueror have been moment’s I’ve cherished with my step-son. I’ve dug out some of my old Marvel comics for him to read – at his request – and he has asked if we can go to the local comic shop to spend his pocket money too.
To me and my children, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 isn’t “just another LEGO game”. To say that ignores the quality of life gameplay advancements this title introduced anyway. Beyond that, this game has helped bridge a gap between the interests of my kids and my own. It’s a game that we’ve played together as a family and allowed me to feel like a hero and comic book guru to my children and to me, that’s priceless.