He-Man Review: Masculine Button-Mashing Fun
|App Name:||He-Man: The Most Powerful Game in the Universe|
|Release Date:||October 25, 2012|
It seems the best iOS game developers know that the shortest path to success in the App Store is to do something simple, and do it right. With He-Man: The Most Powerful Game in the Universe, we see Chillingo fulfill that principle to its fullest extent—and then take the resulting game and inject it with a huge dose of testosterone and masculinity.
In case you’re not familiar with the Mattel character known as He-Man, here is a quick refresher: This muscle-bound blonde guy is the alter ego of Prince Adam, and his main task is to romp around a planet called Eternia whilst defending the secrets of Castle Grayskull from a bad guy named Skeletor. But neither He-Man nor Skeletor are on their own, meaning you’ll come across helpers along the way who will prove useful in defeating all the minions Skeletor throws at He-Man… As far as story goes, it’s none-too riveting, but then it would probably only hurt the kitchy, retro feel of the game if He-Man was spinning off lots of dialogue and getting entangled in complicated plotlines.
So then, we stick with smashing bad guys, hopping platforms, and pursuing Skeletor across a bunch of nicely-varied landscapes like Snake Mountain, Fright Zone, Crystal Sea, and more… Luckily, the gameplay in He-Man is nicely suited to this simplicity. Chillingo made the wise choise of going without a virtual D-pad or any of that nonsense, and instead we get an intuitive interface that has you swiping left or right on one half of the screen, and then up or down on the other. With just these basic movements, you can deftly direct He-Man as he jumps, double-jumps, slices and clobbers his way through each level. The commands get only slightly more complicated as you use accumulated crystals to unlock new, more powerful moves.
The He-Man experience is greatly enhanced with its striking art style and nearly-flawless execution of gameplay… Yes, this is as straightforward as it gets and what’s happening on-screen could often be described as button-mashing, but it is every bit what it’s supposed to be, and that comes through in the humorously inelegant scripting and the black/white contrast between the macho He-Man and the pure-evil Skeletor. Fans of previous He-Man iterations (are there many of you?!) will be pleased.
The only time when Chillingo risks losing newcomers to He-Man takes place in the early stages, where most exciting moves are hidden behind an in-app purchase wall, and the action unfolding is almost unbearably easy and linear… But stick around just a few minutes and the crystals start adding up, at which point moves like the Tornado Spin, Thunder Punch, and Power Slice become available—and it’s just in time, because this is also when the competition gets serious and Skeletor unleashes more potent members of his arsenal.
If it doesn’t come through 100% from the title of “Most Powerful Game in the Universe,” He-Man is an iOS game that is meant to be taken less-than-seriously. It’s not a story-driven epic or a complex fighter, but it’s a great recreation of pure, arcade-style controls and laughable characters from a time past. The screen of an iPhone or iPad is a great place for all of this to unfold, and an investment of no more than a buck or two (depending on how IAP-crazy you get) is just the right price.
Our Score: 4 Out of 5
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