Review – No Heroes Allowed!
Release Date: November 2 2010 | November 4 2010 | March 11 2010
Price: $9.99 | £9.99 | €12.00 | ¥2800
Players: 1 – 2 (ad hoc)
Rating: Everyone 10+
What I liked:
Great sense of humor
Charming old-school graphical style
Unique style of gameplay
What I disliked:
Steep, near-vertical difficulty curve
Despite sounding like a No More Heroes spin-off, No Heroes Allowed! is actually the third in the formerly litigious-titled “Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman!” series. If you’re familiar with the previous two games, then you have a good idea of what you’re in for here. For the rest of you, let me lay it down: No Heroes Allowed! is a dungeon ecology simulator, kind of like mixing equal parts SimCity and Populous and then smothering it in an 8-bit sauce. As the God of Destruction, you wield the enormously powerful ability to dig blocks with your pickaxe. In doing so, you create basic monsters that, through careful guidance, can help make bigger and better monsters that prey on their lesser brethren. This is done to prepare the dungeon against invading heroes, who come in search of fame, glory, and the Overlord Badman. Because you spend the game managing an ecology of monsters, you are just as threatened by overpopulation, starvation, lack of resources, or simple lack of planning just as much as you are threatened by burly warriors with big swords. This may not sound appealing at first, and I can understand that this kind of game isn’t for everyone, but believe me when I say that No Heroes Allowed is a ton of enjoyment.
The gameplay can get pretty daunting; the challenge level seems to start at near-impossible and increase steadily skyward. However, the game isn’t designed to constantly beat you down. When I would fail, the game would respond by unlocking more tutorials for me. The instructional portion of the game runs deep, going from basic controls & concepts to advanced strategies & secrets. The game wants you to overcome it’s Herculean tasks and would rather teach you how to do so than force you to beat your head against them for several hours. In addition to tutorials, the game features a “Dungeon-A-Day” mode which, to be honest, is kind of like a “Badman Brain Age”. You’re given short challenges to complete, such as “Summon X number of Y monster in Z minutes”, all of which are graded and tracked. Complete these random challenges daily and your performance is graphed out, giving you an idea of how much you’ve developed your “Cunning” or “Fiendishness” over time. Speaking of new additions, the game now features water, which can be left to stagnate to develop it’s own new creatures. Or, with careful digging, it can be used to flood out heroes.
The game’s presentation is where it really shines, with an 8-bit era aesthetic reminiscent of old-school RPGs. The music is quirky but upbeat and catchy enough to stick with you after playing. The writing in the game is hilarious enough that it makes soldiering on through the punishing difficulty worthwhile. This humour permeates every aspect of the game, from the menus to the dialogue, and especially the almanac. Every monster, hero, and item in the game unlocks an almanac entry when you first discover them, which is accessible every time. It is riddled with funny definitions and descriptions, and I found myself spending a good couple hours just perusing the almanac after I was done playing. The humour extends to video game references, such as the description of a green mushroom that reads “it looks like the kind that would give you a 1up! Unfortunately you are not so lucky.” The graphics and witty writing give the No Heroes Allowed! a charm that makes you want endure its punishment just to see more.
It may seem at first that one would want to start one of the previous games in the series, but consider this: the plot of the first two games is inconsequential to No Heroes Allowed!, the tutorials will get you right up to speed, it contains more monsters, heroes, and items than Badmans 1 or 2, and it’s being sold for half the price of the previous game. It’s an excellent value for this much entertainment.
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