Home Diverse Media Notes Video game review: “MultiVersus” and its character roster

Video game review: “MultiVersus” and its character roster

MultiVersus poster

I infrequently write about video games, but a new game I’ve been playing seemed to merit a post. “MultiVersus” is a free-to-play/freemium game from Warner Bros.’ video game division. A clone of “Super Smash Bros.,” “MultiVersus” distinguishes itself by featuring characters from across Warner’s numerous properties, including DC Comics, Cartoon Network, and Looney Tunes. Each character has unique fighting skills, special attacks, and so on. The game entered an open beta (with nearly all of the features intact) in July, and launched its “Season 1” on August 15. Most of the characters have their traditional or most recent official voice actors; for instance, Estelle voices “Steven Universe”’s Garnet, while Eric Bauza voices Bugs Bunny.

Like all such crossover fighting games (see “Marvel vs. Capcom”), “MultiVersus” puts everyone on an equal power level, regardless of their source material. Thus, Superman, who’d otherwise easily overpower nearly every other character, can be beaten up by Velma from “Scooby-Doo.”

Game play thoughts

MultiVersus season 1 roster
“MultiVersus” Season 1 roster. (Warner Bros.)

The “MultiVersus” character roster says a lot about who Warner considers important or popular. That said, it’s interesting that Shaggy and Velma are in this game, but not Scooby himself. Or Daphne, the one Mystery Inc. member with martial arts skills, per some spin-offs. Also, some of the characters are ones who’d normally never throw a punch or are pacifists (Shaggy, Velma, the Iron Giant).

Since I’m not enough of a gamer to gauge this game’s play mechanics, graphics, etc., I’ll leave that to others. (My game playing “technique” falls under “button-mashing.”) Instead, I’ll look at the characters included in the game, or ones (as of this writing) announced.

That said, I found “MultiVersus” enjoyable and fun. In my case, another caveat is I’ve pretty much never played “Smash Bros.,” aside from at a store display once or twice. Thus, I don’t have that influencing my views of “MultiVersus.” My main fighting games have been the “Street Fighter” and “Marvel vs. Capcom” series, which are probably pretty old-school at this point.

DC Comics

Wonder Woman in MultiVersus
Wonder Woman in “MultiVersus.” (Warner Bros.)

Superman

Superman’s the main DC character I’ve played so far. Clark’s dialogue includes “truth, justice, and a better tomorrow,” the recently modernized update of his classic (but American-centric) slogan “truth, justice, and the American way.”

Freeze breath is also one of Superman’s powers in the game. A minor power (an offshoot of Superman’s super-breath), freeze breath got tossed from the comics after the 1986 reboot, but made a comeback in the early aughts.

Batman

Batman is based on a mix of “Batman: The Animated Series” and the Burton-era films. The latter’s music score is used in this game for the Batcave level. Still, Batman’s also got some of “Lego Batman”’s goofiness, fitting this game. The main “MultiVersus” poster shows Shaggy wielding a batarang and Batman wielding… a sandwich. Of course, Batman’s met the Scooby-Doo gang multiple times by this point.

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman’s mostly based on her recent media versions; thus, she’s wielding a sword (and not her lasso) by default. (*Sigh.*) That said, her attack moves are based on her famous magic lasso. Said lasso’s also used in her “victory” animation when she wins—using it as a jump rope!

Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn’s costume is based on her recent comic and media spin-off versions. However, her “Batman: The Animated Series” look is available as a skin. Going by a game trailer, she’s also fond of Taz (when not fighting him).

Black Adam

Black Adam is (as of this writing) coming to “MultiVersus,” presumably as a tie-in to the “Black Adam” movie. I prefer Dr. Sivana or Mr. Mind as Captain Marvel/Shazam foes, but I guess there’s a reason a “Mr. Mind” movie isn’t in the works.

Looney Tunes

Bugs Bunny

Bugs is in typical form here. He’s got his traditional look (including white gloves); his attacks make some use of ACME gadgets. His “defeat” animation’s amusing: an angry rage, a la the Cecil Turtle trilogy of shorts or “Rabbit Rampage,” all the few times he lost to an opponent in the classic Looney Tunes shorts.

Taz

Taz is, well, Taz. His moves are all centered around his famous tornado-like spinning, plus his obsession with eating virtually anything and everything.

Scooby-Doo

Shaggy in MultiVersus
Shaggy in “MultiVersus.” (Warner Bros.)

Shaggy Rogers

Shaggy’s fighting skills here are based on, of all things, some internet meme where he’s a hyper-capable fighter. The game’s in-story excuse? Shaggy ate a magic crystal, thinking it was rock candy. Otherwise, he’s still the food-obsessed coward we’re familiar with; the default selection screen pose is Shaggy shivering in fear.

An alternate skin is “Uncle Shagworthy,” Shaggy’s wealthy uncle from an episode of “The Scooby-Doo Show.” Uncle Shagworthy gets his own lines, and speaks like a posh/vaguely British version of his nephew. In the original cartoon, Uncle Shagworthy just sounded like a deeper voiced, middle-aged version of Shaggy (both being voiced by the late Casey Kasem).

Velma Dinkley

Velma’s moves are all based on the fact she’s not a fighter, but a mystery solver. She has word balloons pop up (a la Phoenix Wright in “Marvel vs. Capcom 3”) with her catchphrase (“jinkies”) as an “attack.” For an “upper-cut” attack, a light bulb appears over Velma’s head. Velma also has a move where she runs while carrying the opponent, based on the original show’s gag of her running from the monster while carrying the entire gang. There’s also her line when getting fully kicked off the side of the screen: “my glasses!”

Velma also has an attack where she “calls” the police; a police car shows up to “haul off” the opponent. Part of the original show, of course (someone has to show up to arrest the “monster”), though it also shows how ingrained the police are in entertainment? (Update, 9/8/22: A patch update has removed this ability, letting Velma instead summon the Mystery Machine. I’m glad to see it’s been swapped out; it felt awkward, especially in a game with non-White characters such as “Space Jam 2″‘s version of LeBron James.)

Cartoon Network

Multiple characters in "MultiVersus"
Multiple characters in “MultiVersus.” (Warner Bros.)

Jake the Dog and Finn the Human

“Adventure Time”’s Jake and Finn are both playable characters. Jake keeps his stretching/shape-shifting aspects, while Finn has swordsmanship skills.

Interestingly, the duo’s first appearance is listed as the 2007 “Adventure Time” pilot, not the actual TV show.

Garnet and Steven Universe

Garnet’s moves are more based on fisticuffs, of course. She also has some music-based elements, keeping with the cartoon (and her voice actor, Estelle). I didn’t play as Steve, but did play plenty as Garnet, whose moves fit my “button-mashing” “skills.”

Tom and Jerry

Tom and Jerry are both played as a single “character.” The gag here is that the cat and mouse are both focused almost solely on fighting each other, with opponents just caught in their crossfire.

The game also throws in classic sound effects for the duo, particularly Tom’s famous scream. Alternate skins are based on a few shorts (cowboys, etc.). The selection poses for the duo are based on a classic shorts poster: Tom and Jerry shaking hands, while holding weapons behind their backs.

Unfortunately, if playing against the duo, you’re mostly beating up on Tom, and not Jerry. Given I never really liked Jerry (and lukewarm about “Tom and Jerry” as a whole), that’s disappointing.

Adult Swim

Rick and Morty

Morty is now a playable character, with Rick coming soon; fans should be thrilled. That said, Adult Swim characters showing up in a family-friendly game is an odd choice. Since I’ve never watched “Rick and Morty” (the show’s online fanbase isn’t convincing me to tune in), I’m otherwise indifferent.

Other

Bugs Bunny and Finn the Human in MultiVersus
Bugs Bunny and Finn the Human in “MultiVersus.” (Warner Bros.)

The Iron Giant

Again, the Iron Giant’s usually a pacifist (per the movie), but that’s not the case here. Still, it’s probably a better treatment of the Giant than what I saw in trailers for “Ready Player One.” And of course, the Giant still likes Superman.

LeBron James

Yes, the famous basketball player LeBron James is in this game, under his “Space Jam 2” persona (with lines tied into such). However, the game uses a soundalike voice actor, not LeBron himself.

Amusingly, “MultiVersus”’s profile bio for LeBron lists his “first appearance” as “December 30, 1984.” Which is true—that’s when he was born. Accordingly, his listed birthplace is his real-life one, Akron, Ohio.

Arya Stark

This is easily “MultiVersus”’s most bizarre roster choice. “Game of Thrones” is a popular Warner franchise, but it’s definitely not family-friendly.

I also notice her first appearance is given as the “Game of Thrones” TV series, and not the original book series. This probably should’ve been what was listed; the DC heroes’ first appearances are such (“Action Comics” #1 for Superman, “All Star Comics” #8 for Wonder Woman, etc..), and not their first TV or film appearances.

Reindog

An original character created for “MultiVersus,” Reindog is a magical dog/reindeer hybrid creature. His backstory states he’s the sole survivor/former guardian of a world destroyed by the Nothing. The Nothing was a malevolent entity from the WB-released film “The Neverending Story.”

“Gremlins”

Along with Black Adam’s announcement above came news that Stripe, the main evil Gremlin from the 1984 movie “Gremlins,” will also join the game roster. (Update, 9/8/22: Gizmo has also been added, as a separate playable character.) While a “Gremlins” animated series is coming to HBO Max, it’s still a pretty deep dive into Warners’ archive. The film and its sequel likely fall into “that film Gen Z’s parents liked as kids” at this point.

Conclusion

Overall, “MultiVersus” is a fun game, with an enjoyable roster of characters. Of course, it still has the flaws of being a freemium game. As far as I can tell, certain extras (such as unlocking Uncle Shagworthy) require spending real-world money to buy “Gleamium,” the in-game “currency.”

I also hope the expanded roster of characters in the future includes more classic characters, as well as more people of color (for the humans). My suggestions:

  • Looney Tunes: Daffy Duck, Gossamer.
  • Scooby-Doo: Daphne, Fred, Scooby himself. I note the irony that Scrappy would be perfect for this game (since his gimmick was wanting to physically fight the monsters), if he wasn’t banished as a character.
  • DC Comics: The Flash, Aquaman, Static, Vixen, Green Lantern (John Stewart version), Cyborg (and/or the other Teen Titans).
  • Cartoon Network: The Powerpuff Girls, Courage the Cowardly Dog.
  • Hanna-Barbera: Fred Flintstone, Dick Dastardly and Muttley.

Image from “MultiVersus” main poster. (Warner Bros.)

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