Superhero League of Hoboken
Description official descriptions
Superhero League of Hoboken is a hybrid of adventure and role-playing, set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland in the Northeastern United States. Toxic pollution and war have reduced the United States to a state of anarchy, except for the occasional city-state. Almost the entire area is covered by water, and dangerous mutants roam the wasteland. The player takes on the role of the Crimson Tape, the new leader of the Superhero League of Hoboken, imbued with the amazing power to Create Organizational Charts. The initial team also includes Tropical Oil Man (capable of raising the cholesterol level of his opponents), Robomop (an intelligent kitchen appliance capable of cleaning up almost any mess), Iron Tummy (capable of eating spicy foods without any distress), Captain Excitement (whose "aura of lethargy and dullness" can put many opponents to sleep instantly), and Mademoiselle Pepperoni (capable of seeing inside a pizza box without even opening it).
The goal of the game is to complete missions assigned by the Commissioner and relayed via the League's computer, Matilda. Gradually, the player will raise Hoboken League's ranking, and finally be able to take on the evil Dr. Entropy who is seeking to thwart the rebirth of civilization. As the League's ranking and prestige grow, new superheroes with exotic names and superpowers will join up and make life easier.
Gameplay is divided into adventure and role-playing sections. Adventure gameplay manifests itself in the overall structure of the game: to complete a mission, the player must travel to various locations, talk to non-playable characters, and solve predominantly inventory-based puzzles. The interface for the adventure parts of the game is similar to other late Legend Entertainment titles such as Death Gate: locations are presented as still first-person view screens, and the player selects verb commands to interact with the environment. These locations also usually contain shops where the player can buy weapons, equipment and items to outfit the heroes.
The exploration of the game world that contains all the individual locations is done in a role-playing style. The player navigates the party of heroes over top-down overworld screen, gradually exploring larger areas and accessing new locations. During the exploration, enemies attack the party randomly. Combat is viewed from first-person perspective and is turn-based. Heroes have a range of stats (brawn, brains, toughness, and health) and numerous equipment slots along with their superpowers, which can be used in combat beside regular attacks. The party of heroes may include up to nine active combatants. Experience points are collected following battle victories, eventually leveling up the playable characters.
The player also receives experience for fully exploring areas, as well as eliminating all the enemies in a given area (after a series of random encounters enemies eventually stop attacking). Often specific items must be acquired in order to traverse certain terrain types (e.g. deep water) or gain access to subway lines that connected between various areas. Text comments appear not only in adventure parts, but also during combat, humorously describing the course of the battle. The CD version of the game includes voice acting.
Credits (DOS version)
55 People (44 developers, 11 thanks) · View all
|Role Playing Interfaces|
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Average score: 83% (based on 15 ratings)
Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 32 ratings with 3 reviews)
I first played SLoH years after its original release, but found it very entertaining anyway. Steve Meretzky has another great comic adventure here. The role-playing parts are more interesting than the average game for one simple reason: lots of nifty polish added on to the sound basic elements. The game gives you experience bonuses in many places other than fights, and clearing a map of all enemies (by fighting often enough there) awards you an extra-special bonus, besides meaning that you can pass through there safely afterwards! The combat segments allow you to click-click-click through every round (it's turn-based) easily when you want to, with a little bit of strategy in superpowers sometimes warranted in tougher fights, and a variety of entertaining descriptions of each combat action are given in every round. One memorable example of this attention to detail: When you cross over into Quebec late in the game, the shop menus will show item names in French, not English! And not only that, but if you buy or sell items, their names will change depending on whose inventory they're in, meaning every sellable item in the game was translated!
The adventure parts are handled with less flair than the role-playing. Each adventure scene is shown in the first-person, with a mostly static point-and-click screen, and puzzle results are generally handled through a text description and the instantaneous change of the affected hotspot.
The game is fairly minimalist on graphical touches for 1994 - the 320x200 VGA has a style that sways somewhere in between cartoon and gritty realism, with animation limited to a few touches in the adventure scenes and simple loops for the monsters in battles. Sometimes the effect is good, as the scenes of ruined cities and moody music give the impression of a battered world. But the fact that you're a bunch of superheroes solving puzzles usually having something to do with food items or caricatured people counteracts it, to the point where it's almost like there were two games - a serious one and a humorous one.
While the role-playing aspects work OK, since getting beaten usually only occurs when you go Somewhere You're Not Supposed To Go Yet(and you can tell in most cases), the adventure segments can, at times, be maddeningly frustrating. One of the puzzles at the end of the game requires you to go back to a previous area, wander around until you find(in an unmarked spot on the map - fortunately the maps aren't too big) the item you need, then take it back so that you can finish, without any indication that the item ever existed.
Fortunately, if you have trouble with that, you can go get a walkthrough. I know I did.
Also, the overall staticness of the graphics makes it feel a bit sterile at times; there's a scene in Times Square where Dick Clark and New Year's revellers are around, and none of them move! Quite eery.
Some of the music was on the catchy side, some of it was just okay. It's typical midi quality - there are a few digital sound effects for battles but it's usually fairly sparse.
The Bottom Line
This is an adventure/RPG that casts you as the leader of a band of superheroes with some very pitiful powers(eating spicy food, making motivational charts and graphs...) trying to save the remains of near-future New York and surrounding states(which already got turned into wasteland a while ago) from the evil Dr. Entropy(a jack-in-a-box).
It's a strange game, sometimes being highly comedic and then at other times dubiously serious in its descriptions of how the destruction of the particular area you're in came about. Many real locations from the game's setting are used - it's especially creepy when you go inside the Empire State Building and see the exact picture that's in the real building, dimly lit, and find out that the elevators are broken.
It's also already somewhat outdated - Times Square, in this game, is still a strip of X-rated stores, and it predicts Al Gore as one of the next US Presidents(still possible, but now highly unlikely). But these small quibbles don't detract from the many great aspects of what is actually a pretty richly detailed setting, considering its subject matter.
Play occurs on an overhead map and in two first-person settings, one for fights and another for adventure puzzles. The control is primarily point-and-click, and the transitions are actually fairly smooth - the map is at an abstract level, while the other two add more detail. Travel times are generally very small, fortunately, and random battles are only somewhat of a difficulty.
DOS · by James Hofmann (12) · 2003
I'm a big fan of classic adventure games, RPGs, and - ever since I played Death Gate and Shannara, enjoying both enormously - Legend Entertainment. So when I heard that there was an adventure/RPG hybrid made by Legend, I understood I had to try it no matter what. I was further motivated by Space Bar - although I failed to enjoy its tormenting gameplay, I very much appreciated Steve Meretzky's wit.
I was thrilled to discover that Superhero League of Hoboken was everything I expected it to be. It's not only a superbly written, hilariously funny game, but also a remarkably well-done genre hybrid.
Come to think of it, do you know many good adventure/RPG hybrids?.. The only answer that comes to my mind right now is Quest for Glory. It's hard to make a game that balances genre-specific challenges in such a way that they can satisfy fans of both genres.
Well, as a fan of both genres, I say that the creators of Hoboken did an outstanding job by creating a very enjoyable, moderately challenging adventure, and fusing it with a surprisingly solid and entertaining RPG.
How exactly does it work? By carefully balancing elements of each of these genres. By taking the best aspects from both - the fascination of exploring the game world, the joy of gradually becoming stronger in RPGs; the detailed, verb-based interaction and puzzles in adventures. By smartly avoiding the pitfalls they tend to fall into - exaggerated puzzle difficulty in adventure games, mindless grinding in RPGs.
The game never gets boring, because it allows you to switch gears. Tired of trying to figure out which items should be combined in your inventory and on what object they should be used? Leave the location, explore a bit, fight enemies, find goodies, level up! Enough walking around and fighting? Go back and use every verb command and every item on everything, and see if you can solve the puzzle - or at least read more hilarious responses from the game.
This works so well, is so satisfying, that after playing Hoboken I could only think: why didn't they do it again?.. Why aren't there more games like it? Maybe they don't have to be as funny, but the gameplay ideas of Hoboken are good enough to serve as a template for other games, no matter if serious or comical.
The adventure part of Hoboken is what you would expect from a comedy adventure of that time - funny dialogues and a lot of delightfully idiotic experimentation with your inventory items. Expect to pick up grotesquely useless objects and find their purpose either by following crazy leaps of logic, or simply by happily trying to use them on everything and everyone. Remember that Hoboken is still the product of the Classical Era of adventure games, meaning that you won't have the deplorable "you can only do the right actions, or no actions at all" design philosophy that plagued adventure games of later periods, with their stupid "smart cursors" that killed most of the interaction. Don't worry: Hoboken lets you try stuff, it generously throws at you smart-ass remarks, and it won't greet you with a stubborn "you can't do that" every time you try something.
The puzzles in Hoboken are not as hard as in many comparable games (Space Bar, I'm looking at you again!), but that doesn't mean you won't occasionally break your head over certain situations. But generally, Hoboken is quite forgiving. There are no dead ends (as far as I know), no time limits, and you can't die from trying something you were not supposed to do.
What about the RPG part? Well, you'll have a blast with it if you don't mind its low difficulty level. With the exception of Philadelphia and New York sewers, there are no real dungeons in the game; all the battles occur on the world map, and if you are hurt, you can just go to the nearest location and rest. There are also no boss battles, so you'll never have to be afraid of what comes next and what happens if you are not sufficiently prepared and leveled-up.
What makes the RPG gameplay of Hoboken so good are all those little touches and unique twists in it. The way they handled exploration in this game is, in my opinion, a textbook example of how to do it right. You see, some RPGs tend to be too linear, while others throw you into a huge world without any guidance. Hoboken does neither. It hooks you with its vast, detailed, fully explorable map - for which you'll have to get the right tools to explore fully! In the beginning, you can only walk in narrow lines. You can't enter any kind of water, forests, hills, subway trains. Over the course of the game, you gradually discover new means to map navigation, and new areas open to you. Want to know what lies beyond that deep water? Find a boat. Want to board that train? Find the right pass. Needed items are rarely given to you because "it's the right moment in the story", or are just under your nose. No, you'll have to search for them, and sometimes search hard.
The exploration in Hoboken is so delightful because it has perfect balance between linear advancement and free roaming. As new areas become available, you'll want to explore every corner of them, but getting the stuff you actually need to complete the game doesn't require it. There are useful items scattered everywhere, and you'll want to explore every nook and cranny to satisfy your scavenger instinct. Hoboken encourages exploration like few other RPGs, it constantly makes you want to unravel more squares of that map, and simply mapping the areas becomes one of the most enjoyable and addictive gameplay elements in it.
There are plenty of other excellent design choices when it comes to the RPG aspect of the game. Fight enough random battles and you'll clear the area - no random enemies will attack you any more, and you'll get a nice chunk of experience points for that. How simple and how effective - why did no other RPG with random battles do that?! Is there a better device to encourage fighting random enemies?.. I know people who don't touch Japanese RPGs just because most of them are full of random battles. What would happen if they followed Hoboken's simple idea?
There is more. Map out a whole sector and you'll get experience points. Drink colored isotopes and you'll teach special techniques to characters of your choice. Use different spells for humanoids, animals, plants, and robotic enemies. Manage and battle enemies with a party of not four, not six, but nine active members. Equip armor not on five, not on seven, but on ten body parts. Find goodies in radiation-infested areas if you are not afraid. Hunt for vegetables and meat to permanently increase your health and strength. And so on, and so on.
But of course, even if Hoboken had crappy puzzles and weak RPG elements, I'd still play it, and probably enjoy it. Because the writing here is so good and so funny that you'll keep wanting to continue playing just to see the next ridiculous "mission". Hoboken is full of text, and all of it is good. Gags, puns, bad jokes, satiric moments, constant breaking of the fourth wall - everything is there. And it's not just the dialogue and the location descriptions that are funny. Your super-heroes have idiotic names and even more idiotic powers (Captain Excitement, whose "aura of lethargy and dullness can put opponents to sleep instantly"...) You equip idiotic weapons and armor (trained doberman? iron earmuffs? the list is endless). Random enemies have ridiculous names (a giant hamburger named McMutant, Armageddon Armadillo, and so on), and say unique and hilariously funny lines when they attack or get hit (such as a lawyer realizing that he "loses the case", football player being "unable to understand how anyone could inflict 39 damage on him", etc., etc.), which makes the normally tedious routine of random fighting a pleasurable experience. Wherever you go, you are surrounded by humor.
The game looks great, even though I'm not a big fan of the adventure game engine they used in it (the same one as in Death Gate, still screens with "jumping" navigation). But the pictures supply a definite atmosphere, and not all the locations are comical. As a matter of fact, some of them are rather depressing. It is a post-apocalyptic game, after all. You are exploring a ruined civilization, ruined New York - entire districts submerged in water, once bustling streets turned into ashes, creepy central railway station, empty Empire State Building with malfunctioning elevators, abandoned Statue of Liberty covered by dirt and cobwebs... Hoboken is an atmospheric game and is more than just silly comedy.
The game has a very catchy soundtrack, which will particularly appeal to fans of good old-fashioned MIDI music. Personally, I love those cute synthesized tunes. Also, the CD version has sound effects and every line of dialogue (even the idiotic enemy speak) is fully voiced!
The combat system is not very deep, and the battles tend to be too easy. Since it is possible to rest in any location, and replenish your provisions at the easily accessed Superhero League quarters, you can effectively heal to full HP after almost every battle. Also, I found it a little disappointing that the game had no boss battles. All you had to do was survive the few scripted encounters, which didn't require much preparation.
I agree with BurningStickMan that there were a bit too many specific American jokes in the game. Many of them will be lost on someone who doesn't watch a lot of American TV and doesn't know a lot about American politics, sports events, pop culture, etc. For the record, I don't consider myself a specialist either, I also didn't "get" some of the jokes. But hey, there's plenty for everyone, as the "American jokes" are only a part of the game's humorous arsenal.
Oh, how could I forget. The ending is really bad! All you get is a small congratulation screen, no cut-scene, even not a humorous "post-mission" description, like between earlier missions...
The Bottom Line
This game has a super-power called "Entertain Players With Great Writing And Fun Gameplay", which renders every player completely charmed and addicted. Warning: doesn't work on players without a sense of humor... Maybe there are better adventure games, better RPGs, and even funnier jokes; but as a whole package, this game is irresistible, pure enjoyment from the beginning to the end. It never gets boring, amuses you at every step, and fulfills its heroic mission of capturing the player's heart. Superhero League of Hoboken is a product of a Golden Age in game development, and a classic from teeth to toes.
DOS · by Unicorn Lynx (180491) · 2010
“The future ain’t what it used to be”, reads the opening text of Superhero League of Hoboken and boy ain’t that the truth. 200 years from now (or then, since this is an older game) America resembles some squalid mix of post-apocalyptic clichés, superhero parodies, and early 1990s topical humor.
The player takes on the role of the Crimson Tape, leader of the Superhero League of Hoboken, seemingly more of a catch-all for misfits than a superhero headquarters. The Tape’s superhuman powers make him really good at creating organization charts, Robomop can clean up almost any mess, Madame Pepperoni can see inside closed pizza boxes, and other heroes waiting in the wings are gifted with the ability to put animals to sleep, tread water, increase cholesterol levels, and induce rust. All of this might sound pretty useless, but since the heroes face foes like Albino Winos, Steroid Men, and Nuclear Missiletoes, these are actually handy skills to have.
The League’s arch-nemesis, Dr. Entropy (whose origin story would make Stan Lee weep) has several plans to dominate the world and it’s up to the League to thwart him. During the game, you can attempt to explain to him that good always triumphs over evil, but he’s a single-minded jack-in-the-box. The game’s setup gives the player a series of missions to complete before taking on Dr. Entropy and heading to the next level. With seven mission sets, there’s a lot to accomplish: rescuing a village from rabid sheep or helping a cat trapped under the Liberty Bell, even without Entropy’s fiendish schemes, like unleashing a cryogenically frozen George Steinbrenner on an unsuspecting world.
Most of the game is played on the world map (New Jersey, New York, and the occasional subway ride to other environs). The player moves the cursor representing the party over the world map, finding locations, having random encounters, or hitting obstacles: hills, water, or woods. Locations are typically a static screen shot where players can click on objects to examine them, click on people to talk with them, or use inventory or an appropriate superpower. Random encounters lead to turn-based combat where the heroes take on the villains until the villains are defeated or run off. Obstacles only remain obstacles if you don’t have the right equipment or the right superpower.
When combat occurs, you see a row of icons at the top of the screen showing all the enemies present and the enemies that are immediately within striking range are animated in the center of the screen. A row of icons at the bottom of the screen shows your hero party and usually the first four are able to engage in melee combat with the others assisting with ranged weapons or superpowers. While the action takes place via a combat text-scroll (similar to the classic Bard’s Tale games, there’s actually quite a bit of strategy to the combat: sometimes it’s worth taking on the stronger enemies farther in the queue and letting the weaker ones up close pummel you. Here, too, marching order comes into play, since you’ll want your sluggers up front.
Most superheroes begin their adventures as 10th class heroes and move their way up to 1st class heroes by gaining experience for defeating enemies and completing missions. Heroes level up automatically, increasing their hit points and other attributes. The player does have control over the characters regarding their weapons and equipment, purchased from stores on the world map. Players can also buy elixirs which add new superpowers or strengthen existing ones. While this customization is more of an off-screen thing, it does help develop your characters.
As the player completes mission sets, the League itself gains levels of status. The more famous the Superhero League of Hoboken becomes, the more superheroes are attracted to it and the Commissioner of Superheroes allows the League to increase the size of its party—so less heroes are left in the League’s lunchroom.
What impressed me most about Superhero League of Hoboken was the quality and humor of the writing. It’s not enough that the superpowers are funny and inane, but that you actually have to use them to complete missions. You’d be lost if you didn’t have a person who could eat anything or refold road maps or have that Midas touch (for mufflers). It’s a silly game that’s smart enough to have a Bowdlerizing Ray and expect people to know what that means and how to use it and who should use it. And you have to love a game which isn’t afraid to drown the player in trivia about Hoboken.
This game could have been immeasurably improved if villages were labeled on the world map once they had been visited. I don’t know how much time I spent backtracking, looking for some area I had visited previously, but was now victim to one of Entropy’s schemes. More challenging is remembering which subway line led to which city. Most of the world map is accessible by walking around, but a handful of areas can only be reached by subway—sometimes involving connecting lines.
My biggest complaint, however, is that it’s possible to enter into an unwinnable situation. You need to pop power pills to explore hilly areas and every party member needs one pill. You also have to have the maximum number of heroes in your party. So if you have seven heroes and six pills, you are out of luck. I’m assured online that there is a failsafe to this problem, but it didn’t work for me. I ended up reloading to an early time when I hadn’t squandered those precious pills. There isn’t a failsafe for playing with termites too soon. Thankfully I didn’t.
The Bottom Line
Some gamer I am. Not only did I just discover this game, but I just discovered Steve Meretzky! First off, I highly recommend this game. With the exception of a few dated references, the humor in this game is as funny today as it was ten years ago. Plus, we’re talking about top notch gameplay, great puzzles, memorable characters, and amazing villains. With the exception of extremely aged graphics and moderate instability on modern systems, there isn’t anything here not to like. It’s funny without being dark, challenging without being inscrutable, self-defacing without being stupid. It establishes an internal logic early on, sets a tone and a pace, and keeps building up until the end.
DOS · by Terrence Bosky (5375) · 2005
Near the end of the game, you arrive in the Chippawa market on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Although the merchants all speak English, the objects on their shelves are comically translated into "French" as is anything you sell them. Some examples: a smart bomb launcher = le bombe avec PhD, a sandbag = la bag au beach duste, silly string = la string Jerry Lewis, and (in another show of Democratic leanings) a discombobulator gun = l'artillerie au Quayle. It's worth saving the game and unloading all your supplies just to see the translations.
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Game added by andyhat.
Game added June 6th, 2000. Last modified September 14th, 2023.