Comics : Marvel Heroes: Power Play!

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: Book of the Month Club

This review was first published on: Jun 2013.

Background...

Published in 2006, this was the first of the dozen or so "Marvel Heroes" books created by Reader's Digest Children's Books.

All of the books from Reader's Digest have involved some clever gimmick in their construction, such as moving parts or detachable pieces. But for sheer size and complexity, this one set a standard which none of the subsequent books were ever likely to beat.

In Detail...

Marvel Heroes: Power Play!
Year 2006 : SM Guest
Find ISBN 9780794411534
Summary: Giant Electronic Game Play Board Book (Spider-Man Appears)
Publisher:  Reader's Digest Children's Books
Writer:  Cynthia Stierle
Illustrator:  John Royle
Painter:  David Dees
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Review

This monster of a book is 11.5" x 15.5". All of the pages a super-chunky cardboard.

At the front of the book are two storage trays with snap-on lids where you can safely keep the six games pieces and their bases. Built into the book itself is a six-way electronic randomiser with flashing lights. Press the button and it randomly selects one of six options.

Note that the randomiser is actually built into the back page, and it pokes through a die-cut hole in page. That means that whichever page you turn to, the randomiser is right there, ready to take part in your game.

Inside are five games. "Fantastic Four: Fight to the Finish", "X-Men: Mutant Mayhem", "The Spider's Web", "Hulk to the Rescue!" and "Avengers Assemble!" Each game has a completely different structure, and a different set of rules.

The first couple of games are 100% luck-based, i.e. each play presses the randomiser and strictly follows the instructions according to the rules and the game board. The latter three games allow the player some choices granting them an element of tactics or strategy.

There's some relatively complicated text in the rules for each of the games. You're going to need a teenager or adult to interpret the rules the first time you play. The first game is pretty simple, you could probably explain it to a five year old with a bit of patience. The later games get a little more complicated, and maybe six or seven would be more appropriate.

In General...

The construction is fabulous, and the size is super-impressive. The randomiser makes great noises and has flashing lights.

The games are attractive, and well-varied in both appearance, game-play, and complexity. Having said that, for an adult the game-play is basically chewing-gum, you're not really going to get much of a mental workout. But for kids,

But if you've got a couple of kids, this would be a great way to spend an hour's quality time on a rainy day... much better on every level than surfing the internet or playing Temple Run on your smartphone.

Overall Rating...

I love it. It's great as a collectible, and it has both visual and practical appeal, and the $19.99 asking price is perfectly reasonable.

I can't give it a perfect rating, because as soon as you start digging into the game-play you see really how little choice you have to make in most of the games. I like my games to be a bit more skills-based and a bit less random. But I can't set the bar too high for what is essentially a kid's toy!

Four and a half webs. A "must have" for any serious collector!