Sega Heroes Review
Let’s start off with this caveat: I don’t play a lot of games on my phone. I like real world buttons. But that doesn’t stop me from, every once in a while, installing a game on my phone to distract me for 5 minutes during the day. I’m a huge Sega fanboy, so, when I heard they were coming out with a mobile game featuring characters from Sega favorite franchises Golden Axe, Shinobi, Jet Set Radio, Phantasy Star, Streets of Rage, and the ever-present Sonic, I was intrigued. Purported to be an RPG/puzzle game hybrid, Sonic Heroes launched November 14th on Android and IOS. Despite the great line-up of characters and locations, the game ends up being just another monotonous and simplistic match 3 with not enough motivation (story or gameplay-wise) to compel you to keep playing.
The story for Sega Heroes goes, an evil being named Dremagen (the supposed master of a thousand dimensions) is going to different worlds, collecting heroes to rule all of the dimensions (I mean, why stop at 1,000, amiright?). The Dremagen starts making duplicates of the Sega heroes and villains and releases them upon the Sega worlds. You start off as Amy from the Sonic franchise and throughout the first bit, you meet 3 other heroes to form your first party. As you make your way through the levels, you encounter more heroes and the story only gets more off course. The cutscenes and interactions can be funny at times and are mostly cute but I found myself just not caring at all about the story.
The game mechanics are simple. It’s essentially a match 3 game in the veins of Bejeweled, Candy Crush, Cookie Jam, Shiriki, and about a billion other games you’ve played like that on your phone or Facebook, where you match at least 3 jewels of the same color and they disappear. This game only allows 3 variations of matching: match 3, match 4, and match 5, each providing a different attack or action level for the character’s color you’ve matched. Speaking of colors, you select your team of Sega Heroes, each categorized by a color-type: Yellow, Blue, Green, and Red. The colors don’t really mean anything other than for the purposes of matching. It would have been cool if all blue characters could heal, or all red characters had damage status effects but that’s not the case with this game.
The screen is divided into 2 areas: the match 3 area and the action area. The action area shows you all of your characters in a typical turn based RPG field and is presented nicely. The problem is that the split is even which makes the match 3 area too small to allow any proper strategy in the matching portion. It ends up making the game more about luck than skill most of the time. You don’t have much room to anticipate or plan for chain reactions and you end up not having many, if at all.
The most strategic part of the game is discerning the enemies’ abilities and figuring out which ones to attack first. This is crucial the longer you play as if you, for example, don’t take out the enemy with the team health restore ability first, they’ll just keep healing everyone and you’ll get smashed to bits pretty quickly. You’ll also need to upgrade your characters and I guess that’s where the RPG elements come from but it honestly doesn’t feel very fulfilling.
It’s a whole process to level up your characters. First is XP which you can earn by completing levels and events, as well as in free chests which you will get 4 times a day. That XP raises the total level cap for all characters. Then you need to pay gold in order to increase those levels. You get gold the same way you get the XP. Finally, you need to raise your character’s star level (which will raise that character’s health and attack power), and in order to do that, you need to get hero shards. Those can be found by sheer luck in chests as well as defeating various character stage.
It can take a LOOOOOOOOONNNNNNGGGGG time to get enough shards to raise a character’s star level as it is all random. You can play a level with a chance of winning a shard 15 times and you’ll maybe win ONE shard. Some characters, for example, require 50 shards to upgrade. Hero shards are also used to unlock characters as well. So if you are looking forward to playing as Axel from Streets of Rage or DJ Professor K from Jet Set Radio, heck even Sonic and Tails!, you either need to pay up, play for days, or be the luckiest person on the earth. I’ve been playing for 3 weeks now and I still haven’t unlocked my favorite characters! Overall, it’s a cumbersome process and one that will expel all of your resources and time.
So of course this game has microtransactions, because what mobile game could exist without them nowadays! I found out, about world 7, that the game’s difficulty spikes pretty hard when you don’t spend real world money on it. As I stated before, you can get shards, gold, gems, XP, and all the other random things for free by winning stages and events, as well as opening chests but you won’t get very much doing these things. They really push you to just buy it all and that’s frustrating but that’s just the way it goes I guess.
The game really shines on the representations of the classic Sega characters. I really enjoy the chibi (large head) art style they employed for this game. They did a great job making them all look cohesive and a part of one larger universe. The backgrounds are really representative of the different Sega worlds. There’s the streets from Streets of Rage, forest from Golden Axe, and a beach from Sonic Adventure all made with good details. Hopefully from that they will add more with updates as it would be great to see a Jet Set Radio level or a Phantasy Star one as well. What’s really lacking though is the music. There is seemingly one track and it repeats ad nauseum. It would have been nice to have gotten some themes in there as all the games represented in here have amazing soundtracks!
Sega Heroes, while providing some great Sega fan service, fails to deliver an overall satisfying experience. It’s lack in varied gameplay, reliance on luck, and the pressure for microtransactions really hinders the fun that could be had with it. It’s got great characters, great style but in the end, when it comes time to make more hard drive space on my phone, it’s gonna be one of the first things to go.
5 out of 10 SEEEEEEGAAAAAAAAS!
Price: Free on Android and IOS
Worth the download? Only if you’re a Sega fan