Let me be straight about this: games are not my forte. Not only do I not have time to play most days, I’m also extremely picky when it comes to mobile games. Yes, I got addicted to Temple Run (who didn’t?), and maybe several other iPad games, but I’m usually very hard to please, and only very specific types of games get me coming back for more.
At first glance, I Need A Hero [No Longer Available] did not seem like the right kind of game at all. The name sounds cheesy, the graphics and music did not impress me, and the background story was grossly unoriginal. The only thing going for this game was its match-3 element, which, when done right, has a definite addictive quality.
Hours and hours of play later, I can tell you one thing: I was wrong. I Need A Hero, despite my initial annoyances, has been holding me captive for weeks now, with its puzzle/adventure/RPG goodness. And the best part? It’s completely free! Like many such games, I Need A Hero works on the freemium model, and can become paid if you’re impatient, but there’s really no need for that. Let’s dive in!
Save The Princess!
Match 3 games are a dime a dozen, and you must have heard of Candy Crush even if you’ve been living in a hole. I never really understood the Candy Crush craze, but despite having the same match-3 theme, I Need A Hero is something completely different.
The cover story is this: a princess was kidnapped by a dragon, who then went on to burn everyone who tried to go after him. A hero then appeared, and he has to fight his way through goblins, witches and minotaurs to find the dragon and the princess. So far, this is your classic storyline.
After this intro, you can start playing. You start in the Royal Realm, where you slowly unlock more and more levels. When you finish those, you can advance to the Deep Forest, where the dragon resides. Each level contains a monster you need to defeat, except for bonus levels which have no monsters, only goodies you can collect.
Each monster has three difficulty levels, each earning you one star. Aside from that, you also collect coins, diamonds, and lots of other tidbits which we’ll get into shortly. One thing should be clear: There are many items to collect, so if you’re impatient, you can speed some things up with real money (I never did).
So how do you fight the monsters? This is where the match 3 part comes into play. In each level, you need to create chains of 3+ little monsters of the same color to cause them to disappear. As you blow things up, your “rage bar” fills up, and when it does, you can attack your monster enemy. It has a rage bar too, and when that fills up, it attacks you, so you need to defeat the monster before it kills you, which gets increasingly hard to do as you advance.
When you make matches with lots of little monsters, you create little bonus books. Five monsters will get you a bomb book, 8 monsters will get you a water book, and 14 monsters will get the coveted lighting book. Each book has a different action, but they all help you clear up more monsters and fill up your rage bar faster.
It’s not always that straightforward, though. The monsters themselves have different magic powers, which make things harder for you. Be it stone blocks, extra on-board monsters or other magic powers, these creatures are not giving up easily.
So when is a monster defeated? When the number in its little heart reaches zero. The same goes for you too, of course, but as you advance through the game, you increase your overall health and power so you become harder to defeat. The game doesn’t get much easier when you do that, though, as the monsters get tougher and tougher as well.
To help you defeat the enemies, you too can employ magic each time your rage bar is full. This gets necessary when dealing with the Hard and Deadly monsters for those extra stars. Some magic is free, but more powerful magic will cost you gold, coins, or even diamonds.
So Where’s The Adventure?
Fighting monsters on your way to the princess is already an adventure, but it goes much deeper than that. I mentioned above that you gain health and strength as you go along, but this doesn’t happen automatically.
The game world is strewn with items you can collect, from rocks and nails to flowers and strawberries, eyes and teeth, jewels, books, and even pumpkins. There are many ways to collect these items: some are available in little bonus games, some are awarded to you when you defeat a specific monster, and some you have to trade for. Bonus levels can only be played every once in a while, so you need to be patient in order to gather the items you need.
And what do you do with these items? Craft weapons, of course. The craft tent contains shields, swords, and other goodies which you can craft in order to become stronger. Craft projects unlock when you reach a certain amount of stars, and you then need to collect several items in order to actually craft each one. The crafting itself also takes time, so the whole thing requires patience, unless you’re willing to spend diamonds or real money to speed things up.
As you make your way to the dragon’s tower, you might feel that you’re ready to tackle the dragon with only half the equipment. You’re not. I managed to reach the tower with relatively little equipment, and with brash confidence attempted to kill the dragon. I was defeated almost instantly. He is evil. So even after you actually make it to the tower, the game is far from over. You still need to gain more stars by fighting the harder monsters, and equip yourself for the big fight.
Don’t Fight Alone
If you’re bored of fighting by yourself, you can log in using Facebook to make the whole experience more social. You can also fight in the daily tournament against other players, win trophies, awards, and advance through the leagues. As you can see, I was too busy fighting monsters to engage in these tournaments too often, and I’m still in the wooden league.
Be A Hero!
I Need A Hero doesn’t bring anything too innovative to the table, but it combines several well-known elements to create a surprisingly addictive experience. I Need A Hero is one of those games you can play whenever you have a spare minute, while waiting in line, or for 2 hours straight if you’re really bored.
Having to wait for things to fill up ensures that you don’t waste your entire life playing, but you’ll find that you keep going back to it again and again, in search for more nails, to exchange for a pumpkin, to exchange for a jewel. It never ends, so you never get bored!
Don’t forget to check out our Best Android Games page for some more addictive finds. And if you know of another game we should know about, share it in the comments!
Image credit: Andrew Becraft