Bringing a fantastic mix of chip tunes music and old school graphics to IOS platforms, Pocket Heroes is a shining example of how retro games still have a place on newer platforms. Developed by F5 games and released in July 2012, this little RPG is worth the price of admission (a steal at $0.99). Unfortunately Android users will have to wait until at least December 31st to get their hands on this gem, as for now it’s only available for IOS. The game brings all the excitement and feel of a Dungeons and Dragons session, with some pretty nifty mechanics, great encounters and 4 exciting classes to choose from.
Pocket Heroes features great 2-4 player, turn based play which means you can bring your A game with your friends, or pick up some strangers to round out your party. Whichever way you decide, you begin by choosing your character. The four character classes give you a great variation in how you can play and are built to provide a unique experience for each player. Paladins will find themselves right in the fight, dishing out hits and protecting team members, while the Lunar Priestess spends her time behind the front lines, healing and casting spells. The Mechie (a dwarf riding a massive steam machine!) takes the hits and holds down the aggro to protect less durable characters.
From there, Pocket Heroes picks you up and sends you on a sprawling adventure through caves, tombs and even time itself. The asynchronous style of play allows you to hop on and play a turn or two in a short period of time. However if you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself anxiously waiting for turns to be played, never really putting the game down. Both the soundtrack and graphics really lend themselves to the retro feel of the game. The unique soundtracks for each area really bring you into the experience and the 16 bit graphics bring back the nostalgic feeling of playing through old Nintendo RPGs.
The gameplay mechanics are really what carry Pocket Heroes. Utilizing an action points system to limit the amount of options you have per turn, it becomes crucial to strategize and plan ahead. The chat feature built into the game is one of the most powerful tools for keeping your party organized and ready for whatever comes ahead. It allows players to strategize and for someone to assume a leadership role.
The encounters themselves are challenging and will require critical thinking in order to avoid losing your entire party. Early on it is clear that it will be no meager task to get from A to B, with lots of interesting and unique monsters barring your way. Everything from dire wolves to goblins will be hurled at you as you quest through each area. The items you get along the way provide you with enough staying power to keep you in the game, but not too much that it diminishes the overall difficulty.
One of my favorite things about Pocket Heroes is that it doesn’t hold your hand. It sends you off with a quick tutorial and then allows you to explore and make mistakes. The lack of a map feature and limited line of sight means many surprises await you as you make your way through the various stages of the game. This led to a few occasions where my party was caught off guard and in vulnerable positions. In more than one instance my party barely staved off death and had to come back to revive fallen comrades after the fighting had ceased.
Every good game has its flaws, and Pocket Heroes is no exception. Glitches such as characters walking through walls, resync issues, and spells hitting for extremely high numbers break the immersive feel. In my experience, some of the spells felt a bit too powerful. In a few boss encounters, my two person party was able to easily overpower the monster, which I felt deprived us of an exciting and challenging confrontation.
One of the biggest strengths of pocket heroes is also its greatest weakness. The lynchpin of the game is the team based mechanics, but when dropped into a random group with uninterested players, the pace of the game slows to a crawl. There is no system to remove players who are inactive, quickly turning any game into a dead end. Additionally resyncing can be abused, which means players can resync as often as they want to achieve a desired outcome before finalizing their turn. This cheapens the experience and diminishes the difficulty.
Overall Pocket Heroes offers a well rounded RPG experience that will take you and your friends on a challenging and engaging adventure. The excellent game play mechanics, coupled with the solid graphics and score, overshadow the glitches and flaws. It is guaranteed to please any seasoned RPG player and for the price, it’s one of the best IOS experiences to date.
Ayopagames.com – Cited for general information about release, etc.
IGN – Cited for release date to android platform