What is Marvel Battlegrounds?
An expansion pack for Disney Infinity 3.0, Marvel Battlegrounds is a multiplayer oriented brawler that lets up to four players duke it out as their favourite Marvel heroes in fast paced, close quarters arena combat. As an add-on for Disney Infinity 3.0, Marvel Battlegrounds does require Disney Infinity 3.0 to play. In a bit of a change from the norm, the Marvel Battlegrounds set only actually comes with one figure included (Captain America: The First Avenger), so you'll need to be sure you already own another Disney Infinity Marvel figure if you want to play the game in multiplayer - although any Marvel figures you have from Disney Infinity 2 or 3 will be compatible. If you bought Disney Infinity 2.0, you'll already have a complement of three extra compatible heroes (Black Widow, Thor and Iron Man), so you don't need to worry.
How do you play Marvel Battlegrounds?
Marvel Battlegrounds is divided into two sections - a co-op story mode, that lets up to two players smash their way through a series of half a dozen or so interlinked brawls, and a multiplayer mode, that lets up to four players go up against each other, either in a free for all, or a button mashing team brawl. If you don't have four people on hand who are willing to play, the computer can fill any remaining slots, so you can always be sure of a good game.
As Marvel Battlegrounds is a Disney Infinity expansion, you'll need to plonk your character figures on the Disney Infinity base in order to play - although how it works is a little bit different here. Instead of having to keep your figure on the base, you now only have to scan your characters in at the start of each multiplayer play session, which will unlock them on the game's character select screen. On the down side, you will have to do this every time you play - but on the plus side, it means that four players can face off against each other.
The bulk of your time will be spent in the game's multiplayer mode, where there are four modes on offer. Battlegrounds mode is a one life only, last hero standing affair; Rumble is similar, only with unlimited lives (most kills wins); Hero of the Hill sees you vying with the other heroes to be the only one standing inside a circle (and you earn points as you do); while Super Hero mode designates one player as the Super Hero, makes them bigger and stronger, and declares they're the only one who can earn points, with the player who topples them becoming the new hero, and getting their chance to rack up points. All the multiplayer modes can be played with up to four players on the same console.
How easy is Marvel Battlegrounds to pick up and play?
The epitome of pick up and play, Marvel Battlegrounds is actually a lot easier to get to grips with than the other Disney Infinity games. With simple controls (you can play it entirely by simply hammering the attack button, if you so choose), each character has a selection of four main moves - a melee attack, a ranged attack, a dodge/block, and a throw. There are no awkward combos to memorise, and no complex sequences to do - all you need to do is find a strategy that works for you. While fast reactions are involved, they certainly aren't a must, and as you can tone down the game's difficulty manually, you can tailor the game's challenge to suit. If your child can do Disney Infinity 3.0, they'll be fine with this - and even if they've previously struggled with the other games in the series, they should have an easier time picking up the controller here.
For the youngest of players, while there is some reading involved on the menus (choosing a mode, customising the rules if you choose to do so), there's no reading necessary in the actual game itself, as everything is fully voiced, and all you really need to do is bash everything in sight.
Although the game revolves almost entirely around brawling, what's here isn't actually all that violent. There's no blood or gore, and certainly nothing in the way of realistic impacts - characters simply flash when hit, or thrown, and as they're all meant to be toys anyway, they break into their component parts when defeated.
Format Reviewed: Nintendo Wii U