I've been playing Avengers Academy now for the better part of a year, and I feel with this kind of casual game that that is a great amount of time to give it before you can truly appreciate it's highlights and it's flaws.
And this game definitely has flaws.
For those unfamiliar, Avengers Academy is a clicker game on iOS and Android from TinyCo. Resetting the heroes of the Marvel Universe as late teens/college goers, and joining the Avengers Academy run by a principal like Nick Fury, you get the heroes to do tasks like training, studying, and most commonly, dancing to earn items and credits to level them up and obtain more heroes.
Super simple, right? And works well for casual gaming right? Well, yes and no.
At it's core, Avengers Academy has a lot of good stuff going for it. The redesigns are nearly all fun, cute or actually kinda cool. The story of the game is actually weirdly in-depth and intriguing, revolving around the mystery of the 'time fog' that surrounds the campus and entraps some heroes, and the growing suspicion that the faculty (Nick Fury, Odin, Ares and Hank Pym) are keeping something from the students and indeed, the world. It's also remarkably quite diverse and has openly included LGBTQ+ characters in game, without hiding their sexuality at all. Characters include the core ones you'd expect like Iron Man, Captain America and Wasp, but has gone on to include Union Jack, Hellcat, Ms. America, Ghost Rider (Robbie Reyes) and many more.
The problems ultimately lie in something that happens a little too much in the game: events.
Yes, the casual game suffers from event fatigue. Let the combined irony and metaphor for comics of that sink in.
Basically, the game, for quite some time, has been running events that add new gameplay elements, new fan favourite characters and also advances the overall plot in some cases. Such events have included a Guardians of the Galaxy event, Civil War, Spider-Man and most recently A-Force event.
However, these limited time events often prove to be sources of frustration. The game has a kind of combat system in it which allows you to face off against bosses, but really you are just setting up a cinematic, with no real control of it. However, the toughness of these bosses does not level up evenly, and instead shoots up. For example, at the moment, bosses Hit Points have been seen in game to jump from around 800 to 2600 between bouts, whilst levelling up your fighters Attack Points only raises in around 60-100 point increments and takes initially 8 hours to achieve, and with each level taking even more time.
This makes defeating the bosses enough times to get the items required to obtain that special item or that fan-favourite hero something next to impossible to do…unless you spend money on Infinity Shards to purchase them.
Repeatedly, the player, in again I reiterate, a casual game is frustrated to the point of either forking out money to get the characters they seek, or give up on the game entirely. After all, this kind of casual gaming is meant to be something the player can dip in and out of through the day and just check in on.
The current mini 'event' running is supposed to be to allow players who missed out on capturing villains or recruiting heroes from 2016 events the chance to get them. However, heroes have found any previous progress on their levels on health and attack set back down to the basic, and villains level up exponentially between bouts, making it next to impossible to actually achieve this.
Unless you spend money.
It's a shame. It's been increasingly tough not to see the game as just rinsing long-term, loyal players rather than actually rewarding them.
For me, I am reaching the point where I am getting a little fed up with the game. I know many players who have long since given up on it and deleted the app. I'm not there yet, but increasingly I can see it as an option. For new players, I'd say check it out, but be wary and remember not to get too sucked in and just accept that some characters are not worth the amount of money the game would ask you to spend on them.
After all, the game is still kinda fun and the designs at times are just really good. And we've been promised more events this year, including finally getting long-promised but never delivered character Hawkeye. But I would hope that the game becomes better balanced and make tasks more achievable for those on a budget or not wishing to spend too much money on the game.
Of course, all this would be moot if the game started adding mutant characters (mutants, so far, have been absent) or even a new game entirely under the same premise but set at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. Then all bets are off.