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Calling All Heroes
Gamania, Beanfun and Cartoon Network have joined forces for a family-sized, action-MMO that goes by the name of Hero 108 Online. The game is based on the hand-animated TV show of the same that follows a handful of unlikely martial arts heroes who are set on restoring peace and tranquility to a kingdom that has been pulled into an incessant war. Don’t let that short description fool you into thinking that this is more than a typical LP video game with cheap tricks to keep gamers coming back for more while doing just enough to stay relevant within the genre.
The upside for the game is that it plays out like a 3D beat-e’m-up title from the hey-day of the SNES and Sega Genesis era. The downside is that the game lacks a lot of polish that could have otherwise put it up in the ranks as one of the better licensed-property based games out there. Find out where the game goes wrong and what Beanfun actually managed to get right, in this Hero 108 review.
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Players start off by picking from one of the eight main characters in the game, which is actually designated by the heroes of the TV show. Because of this, the character customization is greatly limited and unfortunately the MMO clone complex comes into play, with the only distinguishing factors for the characters being the level-relegated clothing items that separates one player from the next. Despite this shortcoming -- which isn’t all too bad considering that a lot of MMOs fall victim to this -- the game manages to put more of its attention on story-related questing, and it seems to work well for the most part.
The main plot of the game (much like the cartoon) is that the heroes are trying to restore peace and balance between the animals and the humans who have been thrown into a terrible war. An evil rabbit regime threatens to keep the tensions high between the humans and the animals by mobilizing armies against certain other factions throughout the fictional game world. These story elements stay consistent throughout the early goings of the game and happen to be one of the driving forces behind a player’s willingness to level and quest.
While the impetus to progress through the game falls solely on the game’s ability to broadcast the story to fans and non-fans of the TV series through the game’s grind-heavy quests, the rather non-engaging and almost lethargic pace at the early goings of the game remove a lot of the tension or entertainment values to make the rinsed and repeated process of grinding ‘X’ monster ‘Y’ amount of times to complete ‘Z’ quest, fun.
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Despite the foundations of the game’s concept residing mostly on old-school MMO tactics for gameplay progression, Hero 108’s family-friendly art-style and colorful characters will probably appeal greatly to younger audiences. The numerous (albeit short) cut-scenes that happen throughout the game will certainly help keep the attention of most players glued to the screen. The seamless transition of the cut-scenes also helps keep the pace of the game steady without being too intrusive to the actual gameplay. Of course, any gamer looking to get into the game and just blast through without being bothered at all shouldn’t have too much of a problem with the cinematics in the game given their short runtime.
Much like every other MMO out there, Hero 108 sports a snazzy assortment of options for abilities, clothing, skills and mounts, and allows players to acquire specialty items to upgrade or enhance the quality of specific possessions. Leveling up, earning new abilities and unlocking new gameplay functions is also handled quite nicely with the game’s streamlined questing, making Hero 108 perfect for newbie MMO gamers despite the generic mission structures.
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Where Hero 108 may shine with its easy-on-the-eyes visuals, the game falls short when it comes time to serve up an interactive palette of gameplay diversity and depth. Instead of offering up an edible combination of multiplayer cooperative pummeling with its beat-e’m-up tactics, fused with the standard MMO paradigm, Hero 108 takes the short cut to gameplay solidarity by keeping things overly simplistic and slightly underwhelming.
The unique aspect of the gameplay resides in the player’s ability to basically control and handle a character very similar to a standard adventure console game. The engine also sports the ability for players to engage in side-scrolling platform scenarios as well as partake in unique puzzle-solving situations due to the game's 3D environments. However, instead of putting players in numerous, back-to-back scenarios involving platforming, running, jumping, puzzle-solving and necessary multiplayer cooperative segments, Hero 108 doles out a very standard-fare formula of one grind mission after another with interspersed instances tossed in every three quests or so.
In essence, the gameplay functions and functions well, however the use of the game’s design is underutilized, especially at the early goings of the game. What is there, however, is polished enough to appease most gamers looking for an action-oriented, combat-heavy MMO that plays out very similar to a new-school beat-e’m-up, almost like but not quite as violent-heavy as Min Communication’s RAN Online.
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Graphics and Sound
Technically, there’s nothing wrong with the graphics or sound in Hero 108. Although, the graphics do seem to suffer ever-so-slightly from a lack of anti-aliasing. Still, anyone looking for a cel-shaded, family-friendly MMO will find the visuals more than sufficient in this game. The character designs are reminiscent to most other cartoon network programs, with pudgy looking humans and odd looking animals. It all fits well within the game’s over-the-top animal versus human mythos. In some regards, the visuals are similar to gPotato’s Tales Runner, which is definitely a compliment.
While the visuals are up-to-par for a game of this standard, the sound is absolutely unremarkable. There are a couple of tunes that play throughout the latter parts of the game that inflect a sense of originality, but otherwise there’s just a standard assortment of sounds and tunes to keep some form of atmosphere present when gamers aren’t grinding for 10 of ‘X’ item or trading and buying equipment. Red Cliff and 2029 Online this game’s soundtrack is not.
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With a gameplay mix of Splash Fighters and Fighting Force, this game isn't really anything special in its execution, even though the engine sports for some really unique possibilities. Nevertheless, take note that gamers looking for a decent MMO that maintains the rather short attention span of kiddies will find a good game in Hero 108 Online. While the prospect of the free-fighting system equivalent to Double Dragon or Final Fight seems promising on paper, it’s little more than a simple mechanic designed to help newbies adjust to a pick-up-and-play combat system that later becomes quite reliant on a character's skillset.
If you’re a fan of the cartoon and want to continue that journey then Hero 108 isn’t that bad of a way to go. However, hardcore gamers looking for a serious beat-e’m-up MMO will probably do better sticking with RAN Online or the King of Fighters Online.