Last month I speculated that Marvel Mighty Heroes was going to be a top-down fighting game, akin to what players received with the Marvel Ultimate Alliance games. And it is. Kinda.

I had hoped that the experience I enjoyed with Ultimate Alliance would translate well to tablets and smartphones, but this isn’t really trying to be that experience. And while Marvel Mighty Heroes does offer up a rich selection of characters and features a great, intuitive, control scheme, the game is dulled by lack of gameplay variety and a heavy-handed in-app purchase system.

In Marvel Mighty Heroes players select a team of three Marvel heroes and take them into multiplayer battles alongside three other players (allowing for a total of four characters on-screen at a time). With characters like Thor, Spider-Man, Rocket Racoon, and Black Widow, players can customize their trio of heroes however they would like. (Noticeably missing, however, are the X-Men.)

Marvel Mighty Heroes

The multiplayer battles consist of four players being dumped into a small arena as enemies spawn around them. Objectives vary from defeating a boss character to simply staying alive for a certain amount of time. Matches are a little over a minute long, usually. Players can switch between any of the three heroes in their team at any point during the match, but the matches themselves are so short that I hardly ever felt the urge to switch my hero mid-battle.

While it sounds cool to have four heroes from the Marvel Universe battling together, a fault can be found in the fact that different players can have the same characters selected. So, for example, one match I played had four Hulks running around punching everything. I expect absurdity in my super-hero video games…but too much can damper the otherwise epic experience. The Diablo-like Marvel Heroes suffered from the same problem: Four Hulks is three Hulks too many.

Marvel Mighty Heroes

Too many heroes equates to too much congestion.

Each character has up to three special abilities that can be unlocked and utilized. Hulk has a smash ability that hits enemies all around him in a radius, for example, while Hawkeye can shoot out a fan of arrows at once. Other than the special abilities though, each hero plays the same. Tap to move, slide to dash, and tap an enemy to begin attacking them.

Marvel Mighty Heroes has its faults, but it’s control scheme is not one of them. Everything felt perfectly natural and responsive; I was able to navigate my heroes with ease.

Players will play through a cluster of levels at a time in order to progress through the game. For some reason, though, the game forces players to repeat levels in order to continue. I could complete a level doing top damage (the only accolade awarded at the end of matches), and I would still need to repeat it. This is an annoying problem when I have twenty energy points to spend, and I have to spend fourteen just to get to a new stage.

Marvel Mighty Heroes

Because the levels are so easy (I have had players sit AFK in matches multiple times and we still won) and short, I was able to burn through twenty levels in no time. As a result, it felt like I was being locked out of playing the game when

The only way (but one) to regularly unlock new heroes costs me money. If I wanted to add to my roster of heroes I would have to pay around $5 to unlock a random hero, or wait and unlock a free hero once every 24 hours. Out of the four free 24 hour heroes I unlocked, only one was not a duplicate that I already owned. Getting a duplicate will power up the hero the duplicate is for, but the increase is hardly noticeable (unless it’s just enough to unlock a new special ability).

To further diminish the excitement of the game, the levels themselves are held together with the barest wisp of a storyline. I had to dig through the game’s menus to find an explanation of what I’m doing, and the answer is little more than “The Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy are fighting the Kree, because the Kree did something bad.”

The game would have certainly benefited from a more defined plot.

Marvel Mighty Heroes is a decent top-down action game that is jammed with Marvel heroes, but its held back by its repetition, ease of play, and IAP structure. It’s good, but lacks a lasting incentive to keep me coming back for more.