Review – DC League of Super-Pets: The Adventures of Krypto and Ace
When I review a licensed game aimed at children, I take some elements into account. First of all, is its gameplay appropriate for its target audience? Is it easy to learn, not so difficult to master? Secondly, does it treat the children about to play it as human beings with a modicum of intelligence, resulting in an easy, but non-condescending experience? Finally, is it a good introductory piece to whichever genre it’s a part of? All of these elements are what differentiate the good licensed children’s games from the bad ones, what differentiate Zorro The Chronicles or Crayola Scoot from Hotel Transylvania or the disgraceful Race With Ryan. DC League of Super-Pets: The Adventures of Krypto and Ace, based on an upcoming WB movie, is the latest game in this particular niche, and one that, thankfully, is a lot better than anticipated.
DC League of Super-Pets: The Adventures of Krypto and Ace was developed by PHL Collective, a studio that’s increasingly improving its reputation with licensed games inspired by Nintendo titles, with an easier, more accessible gameplay loop than their sources of inspiration. Their Addams Family game was a love letter to Super Mario 3D World, with this brand new game being clearly inspired by one of Nintendo’s more neglected franchises: Star Fox. In short, this game is basically the most kid-friendly alternative to Star Fox you can find in the market: an on-rails flying shooter with powerups, special moves, and a ton of robotic spaceships to blow up.
That’s not without its fair share of issues. In fact, a myriad of issues. One thing that holds back pretty much every single game published by Outright Games is the overall sensation that they were developed on the cheap, with a very limited budget. In this case, DC League of Super-Pets suffers from poor visuals and a very noticeable lack of content variety. Every level is set in a city skyline, with your flying pet of choice (Krypto the Superdog, or a bulldog dressed like Batman called Ace) flying through a predetermined path blasting Lexbots, with little to no background variety inside each of the game’s three chapters.
In terms of its visuals, the game is muddy, devoid of proper anti-aliasing, and its framerate is far from ideal. It’s uncapped, meaning it can occasionally run at more than 30fps, and, more often than not, below that threshold. The game never chugs massively, but it’s still annoying. It’s a shame, as the titular characters are superbly well-animated, and the game features some interesting enemy designs. The sound department isn’t much better, with a lot of mediocre voice acting from people attempting to impersonate the actors from the main motion picture (kudos on the dude hired to impersonate Kevin Hart, however).
Here’s the thing, though: I didn’t mind the low-budget jank that much. Sure, I would have loved for the game to run at 60fps, given how its visuals do not push any console to its limits (well, maybe the Switch, but we didn’t tackle that particular port), but the core gameplay loop is really fun. I’m saying this as an adult and someone who’s not even DC League of Super-Pets: The Adventures of Krypto and Ace‘s target demographic.
It scratched that Star Fox/Panzer Dragoon itch superbly well. The controls were simple to learn. Each dog has its own special move (batarangs or super-breath), plus a partnership move you can pull off with one of three additional Super Pets. You can accelerate, barrel roll, brake, everything you want from a Star Fox clone. The other main aspect of the game is rescuing pets, nursing them back to full health, and finding a suitable owner to adopt them. Keep doing that, and you’ll earn additional medals that can be exchanged for upgrades on a simple, but effective skill tree. You will be done with everything the game has to offer in an hour or two, but I ended up replaying levels just for the sake of it. Goes to show how robust the gameplay loop was.
Glitchy and low-budgeted as it might be, DC League of Super-Pets: The Adventures of Krypto and Ace has a great foundation for one of the best Star Fox clones released in years. It nails everything it needed in order to offer a younger demographic an entry-level version of a rail shooter, with a great gameplay loop, some educational value, and a fair, but ever-increasing difficulty curve that’s perfectly suited for them. This could have been a disaster, but it ended up being the complete opposite. Kids and adults alike will find enough to enjoy in this pretty decent licensed title.
The problem with this game’s visuals is that they looked dated and low-budget. Even though your two main characters look great and are well-animated, environments are repetitive, textures are muddy, and the framerate is clunky. That’s what I’d expect from the Switch port, not the PS4 one.
Really easy to learn, whether you’re a Star Fox fan or not. The controls are simple to understand, the first few levels are a breeze for newcomers, and there are enough additional features to make the experience more interesting.
The voice acting is decent, but the constant usage of one-liners during levels gets annoying almost instantaneously. The music is good, but repetitive. There are also little to no sound effects.
Fun Factor: 7.5
The foundation for one of the best Star Fox clones released in years is here. DC League of Super-Pets is pretty fun while it lasts, even though it’s short and repetitive. Its saving grace is, without a doubt, its strong gameplay.
Final Verdict: 7.0
DC League of Super-Pets: The Adventures of Krypto and Ace is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch.
Reviewed on PS4.
A copy of DC League of Super-Pets: The Adventures of Krypto and Ace was provided by the publisher.