Published on July 27th, 2012 | by Nichomaxwell0
A Review of Justice League Task Force: Your run-of-the-mill fighting game…BUT WITH SUPERHEROES!!!
Year: 1995 // System: SNES, Sega Genesis // Publisher: Acclaim // Developer: Sunsoft, Blizzard (SNES // Genre: Fighting
>>>When it comes to the debate concerning whether DC Comics or Marvel produced the better batch of superheroes, I’ve always favored Marvel even though my favorite superhero is Batman. DC’s Justice League has always been somewhat forgettable to me save the recognition of Superman and Batman working side-by-side. Yes, there is Wonder Woman, but her whole special deal revolved around her being a woman who was a superhero. If you were to compare her with the heroines from Marvel, you’d see that Wonder Woman is rather bland as a character.
BUT that’s my two cents, and even though I’m not a major fan of the DC Universe, I did stumble upon this Justice League game and decided to give it a shot. Of course, I had no idea as to the genre, so when I discovered that it was a fighter, I tensed up a little bit. You’re playing a game where the Justice League fights one another? I mean, yes, there IS Marvel vs. Capcom, but come on! At least employ SOME sense of teamwork! Feature a tag team option, or turn one particular mode into a side-scrolling beat ‘em up!
But alas, Justice League Task Force only went so far. As a fighting game, it utilized the Street Fighter-type engine with generic projectiles and imbalanced abilities among the characters. But in this game, who really needs those special abilities? Once you discover one of the secrets to winning, there’s almost no point to playing…unless you’re a diehard Green Arrow or Aquaman fan and you’ve limited options for games featuring one of those two characters.
First off, character selection is rather decent for the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. You can select from up to 9 different fighters, which consists of 6 heroes and 3 poorly-named villains (Darkseid is hilarious because “seid” is such a lazy anagram of “side”)…in Battle Mode, anyhow. Story Mode reduces your choice to one of the six heroes for no other reason except that they are the good guys, and there’s no way to play the story as the “bad guy.”
Speaking of Story Mode, it’s one of the most useless game play options I’ve come across in a fighting game. Aside from reducing your options, it does absolutely nothing different from Battle except include a plot that seems thrown together at the last minute, as well as interim scenes in between battles where your character talks to himself/herself about what has transpired so far. You start out by battling the other five heroes, then take take on the two sub-villains, Despero and Cheetah, before facing a clone of yourself and staging a showdown with the nasty, nasty Darkseid.
Huh, this whole fighting order sounds really familiar. It somewhat reminds me of…
oh, right….the Battle Mode…
In Battle Mode you do the exact same thing: you face the heroes, then the villains, then your clone, and finally Darkseid. But it’s all DIFFERENT now, because you do this all WITHOUT the story and dialogue! This is a MAJOR CHANGE!
So that was pretty poor planning on the developers’ behalf. You’re better off sticking to Battle Mode because the story is rather uninteresting, and also because Cheetah and Despero offer some pretty sweet abilities.
As far as the fighting engine is concerned, you take on the Street Fighter engine but with DC character models. Some characters are limited in their move set (Aquaman and, disappointingly, Batman) while others boast an array of five or six signature attacks (Superman) that rack up damage. But the underlying issue with the special attack system is that you can fight with your regular physical attacks and win pretty easily. As a matter of fact, you don’t really have to fight…
Ever hear of edge-guarding?
For several characters (Aquaman especially), their heavy kick supplies them with all the brute force they possibly need. All your avatar needs to do is stand near the edge of a stage and wait for the opponent to move in. That’s when you infinitely spam your block while you throw out your heavy kick, catching the enemy in mid-punch and tearing off a chunk of his/her health. This is a pretty cheap trick and, while it won’t automatically guarantee you victory (Aquaman in turn uses a slide kick that interrupts your standing block), the upper-hand that it gives you is so tremendous, it’s hard to go back to fighting normally in this game.
Because the enemy fighters can be disposed of in a painfully easy fashion, there’s almost no point to even play Justice League Task Force for the fact that it’s a fighting game. If you want to play as the less prominent or more obscure DC Heroes, then this is your go-to title on the SNES. But if you want a fighter for the same system, then play Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat.
Challenge: 4/10: Yes, some enemies are harder to edge-guard than others, and you can’t pull that particular technique off consistently with all of the characters. But the fact that you can choose someone like Aquaman and rarely have to try disarms the player’s need for actual fighting strategy.
Handling: 8/10: It’s got the standard Street Fighter setup while making adequate use of all six action buttons on the SNES controller and all available triggers for the Sega Genesis. Movement is smooth and differentiated among the selectable characters. Specials are fairly easy to pull off, even if they’re not always necessary. Overall, the mechanics were certainly the highlight of the JLTF experience.
Innovation: 4/10: Sure, sure, just slap superhero models over existing fighter classes from other games and call it a new game! Throw in a story mode which is a carbon copy of “Battle,” but with more words to read and less characters to pick from. This is TOTALLY something new and groundbreaking!
Core Experience: 6/10: Backgrounds are well-rendered, the music is decent in spite of how forgettable it is, and hey! In what other game for the SNES or the Sega Genesis will you have the chance to play as Wonder Woman? Heck, she doesn’t show up in another video game again for eleven years! NOTE: She later appeared in Justice League Heroes, released for the PlayStation 2 in 2006.
OVERALL: 5.5/Iffy: This is as Justice League as it gets on the Super Nintendo. Otherwise, it’s a pretty disappointing fighting game. If not for its cast, this DC Comic Book Heroes title would be seen purely as yet another mediocre copycat.