RPG Spotlight #9: Superhero League of Hoboken

Superhero League of Hoboken manages to successfully combine the RPG and adventure genres to form a quirky yet well-written and highly entertaining title set in a poisoned, polluted, and war-torn version of Earth. In an effort to stop the supervillain (and literal jack-in-the-box) Dr. Entropy, the player must travel through the northeastern seaboard of the United States with a group of would-be superheroes wielding ridiculous weaponry (fireplace pokers, cyanide-laced silly string, and the like) and obscure superpowers ("Increase Foe's Cholesterol" and "See Inside Pizza Boxes", anyone?).

The Crimson Tape is the game's protagonist and leader of the Superhero League of Hoboken, "a fourth-rate Superhero League in a corner of New Jersey that sunk to the bottom rung of the League hierarchy during your predecessor's tenure." At the beginning of the game, you'll be able to recruit three more superheroes into your party, though your superparty can grow to a total of nine members (from a total selection of thirteen) when you achieve enough ranking and prestige for the League to attract more mutants to its cause. Each member of the party has primary and (unlockable) secondary superpowers and four primary attributes - Brawn determines their melee strength, Brains determines the potency of their superpower, Toughness determines their overall defense in battle, and Health represents their total number of hit points. In addition, each character has multiple item slots for equipping weapons, gloves, shoes, pants, belts, shoulderpads, glasses, and even a padded jockstrap if they so desire.

The game itself is presented in two different perspectives - first-person is used when you're visiting a major location or have entered combat, while exploration is handled from a top-down viewpoint. When viewing your current location in first-person mode, you have a variety of standard adventure game activities you can perform, such as interacting with NPCs, taking objects from the environment, placing objects into the environment, using objects from your inventory, looking at anything that catches your eye, and so on. During combat, a "battlefield" is depicted along with the zany enemies that you're fighting, and things progress through a turn-based system that has you selecting between melee, ranged, superpower, and defense modes for each character in the party. The world is comprised of multiple grid-based maps with landmarks to explore, as well as both statically-placed and random encounters.

Using the League's supercomputer, Matilda, you'll receive information about any available missions in the area. To complete missions, the party must explore as much as possible to acquire/purchase important items, obtain knowledge from important NPCs, and solve puzzles through the use of items and party superpowers. Experience points (and, therefore, character levels) are earned for defeating enemies you encounter along the way and for exploring entire regions of the overland map.

Interested in more RPG spotlights? Check out our previous entry for Dungeon Hack, or our next entry for King's Bounty.