Beat 'em ups look bloody awesome, don't they? All that carnage and brutality. Only trouble is, you need the memory of an elephant and the dexterity of a pro guitarist to be any good at them. If that's a turn-off for you, then Marvel Avengers: Battle For Earth wants to be your friend.
Its touchscreen/motion-controlled gameplay is interesting in its premise. Unlike your typical fighting game, Battle For Earth doesn't bombard you with long lists of commands requiring complex and well-timed button combinations.
Instead, there are six attacks that are the same for every character: two regular ones, three specials and an ultra. The specials are uniformed: one sliding attack, one jump attack and a launcher, the latter slapping foes into the air, offering potential for follow-up attacks.
These attacks are represented on the GamePad by small icons on the touchscreen. Regular attacks are performed simply by tapping the icon, with specials requiring an additional touchscreen gesture that is indicated after tapping the associated icon.
Alternatively, Wii Remote controls replace touchscreen icons with button commands, with specials executed by a simple motion gesture. The strength of the latter is determined by the accuracy of your drawn or motion gestures, but that's as involved as it gets.
We like the idea: super-simple controls and a uniformed moveset across all characters eliminates the challenge usually associated with performing a move, enabling you to focus entirely on timing and a rock/paper/scissors system of attacks and counters.
So with very little effort and absolutely no need to memorise even a single command, you can be merrily jabbing or arm-waving your way through all kinds of carnage within minutes. And with slick comic-book visuals, it looks sweet, too.
Piece Of Cake
Marvel Avengers: Battle For Earth takes simplicity too far, though. The strategy involved is minimal, the CPU is a walkover and anyone with even a little gaming proficiency will feel like they've mastered it within an hour.
Unfortunately, a lack of substance becomes a running theme. The single-player Campaign mode sets the scene for each fight with a quick, comic-style interlude before you're thrown into a two-on-two brawl (letting you swap between characters at any time) in a level of your choice. There are only five arenas, though - each with eight fights - and it quickly gets repetitive.
With such rich source material to work with we expected its story (based on the Secret Invasion series, if you're a Marvel buff: see box, left) to be gripping, but the cutscenes are so short they fail to provide any genuine substance, which is a real shame. Stick with it for just a couple of hours and you could easily see the end credits in a single sitting.
Elsewhere, a typical Arcade mode lines up all 20 fighters for back-to-back bouts without any of the story fluff, while a Challenge mode is more like a glorified tutorial, setting you simple tasks to complete for each character.
As for multiplayer, a co-op option enables you and another player each to take control of one fighter in a tag-team scenario, while a Versus mode has you face off against each other. There's no online option, though, so you're stuck firmly offline with no use for that Nintendo Network ID you are probably so desperate to use.