Updated: Marvel KAPOW! HD iPad Review

With great brand recognition comes great responsibility, so Marvel has done the heroic thing and quickly updated their KAPOW app to fix some major bugs. The game was unplayable before, and now, it works as intended.

Three of our biggest complaints have now been fixed: the uneven difficulty, broken Game Center integration, and lag during attacks. The result is a game that plays much smoother and faster, especially on an iPad 1.

However, the game itself is still content to be more of a civilian instead of a superhero. The basic design– 26 levels of disembodied villain heads that have to be slashed, bashed, and shot– gets very dull. KAPOW still doesn’t come close to the quality of other superhero games on the App Store like Spider-Man: Total Mayhem.

It’s possible that with some extra gameplay modes, KAPOW could be a worthwhile purchase. It’s now decent enough for us to raise its score to a 2 out of 4. But even if you love the Marvel universe, you’re probably going to want to approach this simplistic game with caution.

Marvel fans, this is your summer. Not only can you see new X-Men, Captain America, and Thor movies in theaters, but you can even see Spider-Man on Broadway. It makes sense for Marvel to package all of these heroes together in one iOS game, but KAPOW! is broken, unambitious, and anything but super.

Marvel KAPOW! HD lets you play as four superheroes: Wolverine, Captain America, Spider-Man, and Thor. Instead of representing them onscreen with the character and costume, each hero has a special touchscreen attack to defeat a particular type of enemy. For example, Wolverine’s claws can slash Magneto like Fruit Ninja, while Captain America’s shield can deflect Red Skull’s bolts like a game of Brick Breaker.

Magneto heads make a great stand-in for watermelon.

You’re only given access to a few heroes at a time on each of the game’s 26 levels. Your regular enemies all appear as floating heads, a bizarre and disappointing substitute for a proper arch-villain fight. In some of the best iOS Marvel games like Spider-Man: Total Mayhem, you’ll fight actual villains who will try to kick, punch, slam, and blast you. All these KAPOW! baddies do is head-butt you and try to break the screen.

The only boss in the game is Dr. Doom, who appears every few levels for a throwdown. However, we found these encounters to be much too tough, especially since all the other levels seem to be kid-friendly and unchallenging. If you could upgrade your heroes, or store health boosts, these Dr. Doom fights would be a lot more fair. We’d also like the ability to adjust the difficulty, depending on who’s playing.

At least it’s better than fighting Dr. Demento.

In addition, Marvel KAPOW! HD has a load of technical problems. Your attacks lag considerably behind your swipes on the screen, especially Spider-Man’s web attack and Wolverine’s claws. Marvel KAPOW! HD is also supposed to contain Game Center integration, but there is currently no way to upload high scores or unlock achievements.

This app is very disappointing, especially compared to other Marvel iOS games like Spider-Man: Total Mayhem, X-Men, and even the so-so Thor game. With a lot of work, Marvel KAPOW! HD could be rescued, but in the meantime, just avoid it.

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