I’ve got a fondness for Heroki that stems back to its original release on mobile platforms three years ago. I didn’t actually play it – I simply cannot get on with touch screen controls – but I appreciated how charming and pleasant it looked. I’m a sucker for a platformer too, so it ticked a lot of boxes for me.
It only took a few years, but now I can finally play the game with *proper* controls thanks to its recent release on the Nintendo Switch. It delivered everything I expected too: a fun little adventure that keeps things simple and fun (and also maybe a little bit too easy).
Heroki puts you in the floaty shoes of the titular hero Heroki, a young hero who sees his home village face disaster when the villainous Dr. N. Forchin and his vicious sidekick Vapor come and steal the Emerix – a mysterious but powerful artefact that gives the holder untold power. Heroki is sent out to recover it and ensure that it returns safely to its home in the village, which means heading across a variety of different locales on what is essentially a huge scavenger hunt.
Recovering the Emerix means working your way through a variety of levels set across multiple worlds, each of which poses a different challenge upon the titular hero. The core mechanics remain the same throughout though, with an emphasis on finding all of the collectibles that are scattered throughout levels whilst throwing a bunch of boxes at any enemies that are in your path. Some of these collectibles are out in the open, some are hidden away in the furthest corners of the map, whilst some require a bit of investigative work to find – there’s a real emphasis on exploration in the game, but at least it’s made easier given that you’ve essentially got a helicopter blades on your head.
It’s a fun little platformer, with the controls working well throughout and the gameplay experience more carefree than punishing. I never found a level in the game where I felt particularly challenged or where I couldn’t find the collectibles, but I also never found myself getting bored either – there’s a balance there that just makes for an enjoyable time. I even didn’t hate the game’s water levels (my worst enemy in platformers), even if they were the weakest of the bunch…
As you progress through the game’s different worlds you’ll be able to unlock new abilities, some of which are imperative to progress and others which simply give you the upper hand. Take the Wind ability for example: you’ll need this to clear obstacles covering the screen as you make your way through some of the latter levels, so it’s required to progress. The X-Ray ability however isn’t compulsory, but it’ll make life easier when searching for those hidden collectibles as you work through the game. There’re a few new abilities to unlock, and whilst they never change up the game all that much, they do add a little bit of variety to the experience.
Whilst I appreciated it for the most part, the game’s simplicity can also become a little bit of a problem – especially since the core mechanics of Heroki don’t change up all that much throughout. You’re only ever really looking for collectibles in levels, and whilst the occasional new puzzle or obstacle will come up here and there, they never do enough to really change up how the game plays. What you see if what you get, from the first level to the last.
It’s not a real problem nor is it one that makes Heroki a bad game – in fact, I came to appreciate that it was more of a carefree experience that’s less about punishing the player and more about giving them something to enjoy. There’s no denying that platforming enthusiasts who expect a bit more from the genre might be a little underwhelmed by the sheer simplicity of the game though, especially when you consider titles like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and Mario Odyssey are also available on the Nintendo Switch.
That being said, Heroki does throw a few neat ideas into the mix to add a little bit of variety. There’s the main village for example where you can interact with the world’s inhabitants and take on side quests – sure, it might not necessarily be the most sophisticated or lively home hub you’ve seen in a video game, but it does add an extra dose of personality to the experience. The main levels won’t take long to get through either, so spending some time here does add a bit more meat to the game’s bones.
Release Date: Out Now
Format(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), Mobile Devices