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Crapshoot: Superhero League of Hoboken, the heroes who fought hamburgers


Superhero League of Hoboken

From 2010 to 2014 Richard Cobbett wrote Crapshoot, a column about rolling the dice to bring random obscure games back into the light. This week, crime meets its match in the streets of New Jersey! Bad guys, meet the world’s baddest team of superheroes! No, wait. Worst. I meant worst.

When evil rears its ugly head, the cry for justice echoes throughout the post-apocalyptic streets! Which brave, valiant, daring, fearless, hardy, indomitable, unabashed, valorous, thesaurus-owning heroes will arrive to save the day? The Superhero League of Hoboken, of course. And if you need to see inside pizza boxes, tread water really well and make robots rust a little faster, then citizen, relax!

(But if you know how to make a mini-Batsignal with a torch, definitely try that first.)

At some point in the future, computers as we know them will cease to be. Games will no longer be things of code and pixels, but carefully constructed ideas that we download into our brains, where they’ll exist in a state of pure imagination, as incapable of disappointing us with the cold harsh nature of reality as a pleasant dream. Until that day though, we have to take a lower-tech approach, and in the 80s and 90s that form was the good old magazine review. On the surface, they were simple buying advice. In fact, they were primitive game simulators in their own right. Long before online forums turned casual discussion into a heated deathmatch, long before the internet made it possible to play demos that didn’t come mounted on the front of a magazine, there were kids holding screenshots up to their eyes and jiggling them around to pretend they were moving. Even before Tomb Raider came along.

This was easily the best way to play many games, letting the concepts behind them live and breathe free of control issues, sadistic difficulty curves, or just plain Not Being Very Good. In many cases though, the issue was more that the ideas that stuck in your head towered over the actual execution, making the actual game feel far flatter than if it had just been a dull idea in the first place. Here is where Superhero League of Hoboken stands—not in the corner of shame, but spending its afterlife eternally mingling with the ghosts of games like It Came From The Desert. “You know, we had great ideas,” they sigh to each other over watered-down cocktails. “We could have been so much more…”

The premise is that a couple of hundred years into the future, America is a melted slurry of toxic waste and the remnants of the polar ice-caps, and its post-apocalyptic world reliant on brave mutated superheroes stepping up to the plate to defend the innocent. Unfortunately for New Jersey, the best they’ve got is the fearless but useless Crimson Tape, whose sole power is creating organisational flowcharts. This power is never, ever used in the game, and it’s a game that finds a use for a hero called Robomop. Not to mention Princess Glovebox, mistress of maps. Specifically, paper maps. That need refolding. She’s good at that. And only that. Still, it comes in useful. Exactly once.

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