Captain America: Super Soldier (Wii): Wield the shield

August 5, 2011

The Wii version of SEGA’s Captain America: Super Soldier is a surprisingly solid action-platformer despite its movie tie-in roots. Taking place as a sort of side mission between the events depicted in the movie, CA:SS starts off with an introductory/tutorial level on the front-lines before proceeding to the main locale, Baron Zemo’s castle. The Baron is not pleased at the fact that HYDRA has taken over his family’s estate for their research purposes, but he’s not really in a position to do anything about it other than give Cap — normally his hated enemy — some pointers about its layout via radio.

Along the way Cap will encounter other villains from his comic book past that weren’t necessary to the movie’s plot: Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, Madame Hydra, Iron Cross, and a (much) more aggressive version of Armin Zola will all have to be dealt with before Cap’s mission is complete; movie big bad Red Skull makes some appearances late in the game but is never really a factor.

Using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk gives Cap all the skills he needs to proceed, with A and B handling his jumps and punches, respectively. The Remote’s pointer aims Cap’s shield, which can either be quick-tossed with the C button or locked on to multiple targets by holding down the C button (“focus mode”) and then moving he pointer; locking on can be a bit erratic, however, I was unable to lock on to some targets that I could hit with a quick-toss without changing my location. The Z button will be your best friend throughout the game, as in addition to bringing up the shield to block (and redirect) projectiles it also allows Cap to counter enemy attacks if you hit it in response to the on-screen prompts. This results in some truly fun and spectacular brawls with Cap fending off enemies from all sides and really living up to his “super soldier” billing. The Z button can also grab stunned enemies to either toss them into their partners or turn their weapons against them! In a rare move for Wii ports, SEGA happily limited the waggle in CA:SS to a completely optional Nunchuk shake for shield tossing and the rare QTE against bosses. Despite the general lack of motion controls, this version of CA:SS still felt like it was actually made for the Wii instead of ported from the HD versions, which is a nice change of pace.

The action in CA:SS is mostly evenly divided between the brawling and platforming, with some light exploration elements if you want to find the fourteen hidden objects on each level (ten bombs, three prisoners, and one chest containing a Zemo family heirloom); tracking them all down does nothing but unlock concept art and gain Cap some experience, so it’s not really necessary to go out of your way. Cap can also gain experience from beating enemies and smashing objects; collect enough and you earn an upgrade of your choice. There are about two dozen total upgrades separated into three branches of development: shield (in my opinion the most useful, especially once you can deflect energy blasts), combo, and focus (more lock-on targets, and later more health). I was able to max out the upgrades during the course of play, although the last few came during the final stage so the pacing is right on the money — plus I was a little obsessive about smashing things, especially the speakers through which my enemies would often taunt me. Be aware that some objects are explosive and are best dealt with via shield at a distance; these also make handy weapons if enemies are nearby.

As I mentioned, the brawling parts of the game are actually quite fun, with different enemies requiring different tactics and mixed groups really forcing you to prioritize or else get pummeled. Cap usually has plenty of room to maneuver, and can even execute special attacks both as part of combos and by attacking from higher ground. The platforming, on the other hand, is a bit lackluster. On-screen indicators guide you through most of them as you tap the A button to reach each successive platform. While there are some neat tricks here and there, like sliding down giant cables, most of the fun here is simply reduced to pointing yourself in the right direction and not falling off by accident — which mostly just means you have to start over, although sometimes can be fatal (which also means starting over, but from further back). I did encounter one area late in the game that seemed like it was impossible to navigate as intended, as Cap kept falling off the last cable every time before I decided to try jumping repeatedly instead of just sliding; I’m not sure if that’s a bug or what, but it was incredibly annoying. Other areas are more puzzle-like, as Cap has to disable power supplies or hit switches that are not always accessible directly. These are generally well done and keeps the game from being too focused on physicality; Cap’s not just dumb muscle, after all. Boss fights are also puzzle-oriented, requiring tactical use of all of your skills to survive. The QTEs involved are simple, requiring you to shake either the Remote (no up/down or left/right distinction, just shake it), Nunchuk, or both. The final boss is a truly spectacular encounter, marred only slightly by the fact that defeating it comes down to actual button mashing (not a strong point of the Remote/Nunchuk setup) once you’ve handled the puzzle portions.

On the whole, CA:SS delivers everything a fan would expect from a Captain America game: plenty of action, shield-slinging, and corny speeches. Almost all of the movie’s hero cast lends their voices to the game (although Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter had criminally few lines, especially compared to the DS version), and the substitute villains do a fine job as well. Sadly, the game has a few nagging flaws that are keeping me from making a stronger recommendation. In addition to the problems with focus mode targeting (which is kind of a big deal) and the somewhat lacking platforming, the game also has some camera issues (mostly when Cap is in a tight corner); you can move it using the D-pad and re-center it behind Cap by pressing down (up I think switches it to in front of Cap, for which I couldn’t find a use), which is helpful but still not quite enough to overcome the problems when they arise. Still, Captain America: Super Soldier for Wii exceeded my (admittedly low) expectations and was quite fun for the 8 or so hours it lasted. The game also offers three difficulty levels (I went with “Hero”, which was the middle option; you get one of two alternate costumes for beating the game at any difficulty) and a stage select (presumably to find missed collectables), as well as four “Zola Challenges” to be found in each level for additional… uh, challenges if you’re interested.

Pros: Really fun combat, and a nice balance of action and puzzle/platforming.
Cons: Focus mode targeting is somewhat erratic at times, obligatory camera issues.

Score: 3/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.