Review: Come On! Heroes (DSiWare)

Arrowsmith

Hot on the heels of the similarly named Castle Conqueror - Heroes comes CIRCLE Entertainment's Come On! Heroes. It's similar in title only, however, as the gameplay and presentation hearken most closely back to the first Castle Conqueror game. This isn't a bad thing but, unfortunately, a lack of variety really lets this release down.

The game begins promisingly enough. After three Castle Conqueror games featuring variations on the same "defeat the evil armies" formula, Come On! Heroes puts the shoe on the other foot. Here you'll find yourself defending the bad guys, through indirect control of a thieving scoundrel known only as Archer.

As Archer, you are in possession of an heiress to a great fortune so, needless to say, good guys are coming out of the woodwork to get her back. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to shoot each and every one of these good guys through the head with an arrow.

As we said, this is promising. It's an excellent twist on the Castle Conqueror formula, and one we're quite happy CIRCLE Entertainment chose to explore. It also allows for some excellent gallows humour, softened somewhat by the cartoony visuals and design.

The problem is the lack of variety. Each level plays out in largely the same way: the invading army of do-gooders descends from the top of the screen toward your fortress at the bottom. You fire arrows at them by tapping the touch screen and, when you've defeated enough of them, a boss appears. Defeat the boss and it starts all over again.

That's pretty much it. On the bright side, the firing controls are great: you can tap anywhere on the touch screen to release an arrow, and the attack is quite responsive. If you have the appropriate items, you can also draw a horizontal line to create a wall of fire, or a circle to plant a landmine. It's a fairly standard tower defence game, albeit a significantly simplified one, which makes every second count. It also makes you grateful for such responsive controls.

On the negative side of things, though, your types of arrows are switched by tapping an icon in the lower left, which rotates through all available types. In the heat of battle it's difficult not to tap too few or too many times and end up using a type of arrow you don't want. The arrow types are fire, ice and magic (the first two have obvious enough effects, but the magic arrow penetrates — and damages — entire lines of enemies), and if you want to switch to one of those specifically, good luck doing so. The option to freeze gameplay while selecting a weapon would have been nice, or at least the ability to map shortcuts to the many unused buttons.

Between levels you will be taken to the shop, where you can upgrade these weapons with the money you picked up during battle. The upgrades simply result in greater damage dealt (or, in the case of fire, with a longer burn), so they don't shake up the gameplay at all.

What this means is that every level is an endless tapping at your touch screen, releasing waves of arrows at nondescript invaders until you win the game, or become bored. If you're like us, the latter will set in long before the former.

That doesn't mean the game isn't fun, however; it just means that it has difficult sustaining itself for longer play periods. It's best experienced in short bursts but compared to the Castle Conqueror series, which could be equally enjoyed either in short bursts or long marathons, this feels like something of a step back.

The graphical presentation is bright and amusing, but the music ranges from forgettable to outright unlistenable. One between-chapters tune in particular sounds like it was recorded to tape that was stomped on, dragged for several miles behind a car and then unceremoniously fed through the digestive tract of a dog. It's absolutely terrible, and not at all on par with the rest of Circle's soundtracks.

For the price, this one is worth a look. It's responsive and entertaining, but be sure not to play for too long, and always have some alternative listening ready.

Conclusion

Come On! Heroes is a fun enough game, but it suffers from a lack of variety and some truly appalling musical tracks. Otherwise, though, it's quite fun, and a welcome enough return to the fast-paced simplicity of the first Castle Conqueror game. Your mileage with this one may definitely vary. For quick bursts of frantic gaming, you could do a lot worse. But for a large and memorable experience, keep walking, hero.

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