Marvel’s heroes are known by name the world over, and their movies continue to blast to the top of the box office charts. In the video game world though, they tend to be a bit more hit-or-miss. For every great one like the free-to-play Diablo-style Marvel Heroes, there’s a dull X-Men: Destiny out there tarnishing the franchise’s reputation.
It’s good news then that Marvel’s recent outings on Android succeed at offering bite-sized nuggets of fun on your phone or tablet. Check out these four free Marvel games for superhero gameplay on the go.
What Does Free Mean?
Let’s get this out of the way right up front. Each of these games is supported by a cash shop. None of them ask you to pay anything to start playing, but vary on how much carrot or stick they use to try to entice you to spend money. Some do it through a soft pay wall, where the game’s challenge gradually increases to the point at which, unless you pay at least a little money, you’ll struggle to progress. Others implement a hard pay wall, wherein later chapters of the story literally cannot be experienced without paying real money. And all of them want you to get your friends to play too, so you’ll have a greater personal investment in the game.
This is the nature of free mobile gaming for the most part. Smaller creators and labors of love — like the viral success Flappy Bird — might be able to get away with solely ad-funded games, but high quality productions with the world-famous Marvel universe have to pay the bills. As you play any of these fun games, it’s up to you to decide what level of investment you’re comfortable with. If the answer is ‘none’, you may come to a point where you’ll just have to set the game aside.
For more on how free games are monetized, check out this article on connecting with Facebook games, many of which follow the same principles as free mobile games.
Iron Man 3
The Endless Runner Takes Flight.
Tony Stark spends his fair share of time rocketing through the sky and blasting his foes in the Iron Man movies, and those activities form the cornerstone of the Iron Man 3 game. You’ll fly through a variety of environments, scooping up power-ups and currency, dodging hazards, and shooting down villains. The rewards you earn can advance and unlock over a dozen new Iron Man suits with different capabilities and special attacks.
The game defaults to tilt controls when first installed, which can be cumbersome if you’re playing in a public place, so switch to full touch controls from the options if that makes you more comfortable. Regardless of which control style you choose, the game is a stiff challenge. Luckily, many of the regularly rotating side missions add up your total performance over many runs, so even if you’re crashing and burning a lot, you’ll still finish tasks that give you packs of credits you can spend on improving your Iron Man suits.
Powered Up Match-Three Puzzles.
Puzzle Quest has been around in various incarnations on mobile devices for quite a while. Its fusion of match three gameplay and RPG-style character progression proved to be two tastes that go great together. This incarnation of the game lets you collect a wide array of Marvel heroes, and use their unique powers at the right time to achieve victory. For example, you’ll likely fall in love with Black Widow’s stun effect very early, as it buys you valuable rounds free from the constant pressure of enemy attacks.
Marvel Puzzle Quest will have you fighting everything from street thugs to arch villains, and the little bits of over the top story surrounding each mission provide a nice touch of narrative around your matches. To defend yourself from enemy attacks, you’ll have to shatter certain gems that have countdowns on them before they reach zero. It’s really rewarding to think a few moves ahead and position a gem to score a great combo or bonus turn.
Endless Running. And Crawling. And Swinging.
Why feature two endless runners on the same list? Because Spider-Man Unlimited and Iron Man 3 feel totally different! For starters, Spider-Man sports a kid friendly, cartoonish feel that fits Peter Parker’s wise-cracking attitude. It also focuses on missions with a defined end, such as beating a villain or grabbing several of a certain item, with the endless mode set aside for leveling up outside of the story. Play well, and you’ll unlock a wide variety of playable alternate dimension Spider-Man characters, like the Japanese-inspired Mangaverse Spider-Man.
Where Spider-Man Unlimited really shines is in the wide variety of obstacles you’ll have to navigate to succeed. Swipes on the touch screen navigate many objects, but you’ll also tilt your device for wall-crawling, hold and release for web-swinging, and tap rapidly to unleash a string of furious punches and kicks on villains. The regular changes of pace will surely keep you on your toes and engaged.
Don’t forget to check out these other great endless runners for Android.
Thor: The Dark World
MOBA Mechanics, RTS Variety.
When you imagine a game about Thor, you’re probably more likely to think of an action packed brawler than a hero-driven real-time strategy game, but Thor: The Dark World is absolutely the latter. You’ll command Thor and a cadre of his loyal einherjar warriors as they battle across the Asgardian realms. The strategy mechanics are relatively simple paper-rock-scissors match ups. Your warriors charge ahead on a set course, but you can tap a button to rally them back to you if they get too far ahead. Most of your attention will be on Thor as you bludgeon your enemies and call down waves of lightning.
The Dark World’s mission diversity helps keep its 2-5 minute levels fresh over time. In some, you’ll be able to summon new warriors every several seconds. Other times, you’ll have to free warriors from cages as you go along. There are escort, base defense, and wave-based survival challenges as well, so you’ll never do the exact same thing too many times in a row. Missions are graded on a scale of 1 to 3 stars, but don’t fixate if you can’t get 3 stars on the first try. Level Thor and his army up, and you may unlock the perfect tool to nab that last evasive star on a frustrating level.
Any Other Recommendations?
This list focuses on Marvel games, but they’re not the only superheroes on Android.
Can you recommend any other great mobile superhero games? Let our community know in the comments!
Want more Marvel action? See our full review of Avengers Alliance.