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A short, well-designed comedy romp with lots of amusing endings.

  • Decky
  • 02/04/2014 08:28 AM
When it comes to making RPGs, I'm an advocate of completing a few short games before indulging in your epic. Get a few short games under your belt. Luckily, the developer of this game shares that same sentiment. Hero Man is short in scope - about 15-20 minutes for an average playthrough - but there is more than 2 hours worth of content if you keep replaying to experience the branching paths and all the options that are available.

This king is a douchebag, but in a good way.

Story and characters
Make no mistake about it: this is an old school comedy game, so the story is simple and the self-aware humor (in the vein of Jay's Journey) is everywhere. Luckily, the humor is well written and mostly funny (though there were a few duds in my opinion - the sign jokes and the prince's tropes got a little forced at times).

You're a hero man and you have to save the kingdom. Many people are ungrateful for your services, but you persevere...or do you?

There are some very funny NPCs in this game, and you'll want to talk to all of them. One of them is a priest (you know, the kind who used to save and heal you in old games) who has gotten depressed for being so lonely all these years (a clear nod to this new era of instant saves and whatnot). Most of the opportunities for humor are exploited in this game in similar manners - often to hilarious results.

The true draw of this game are the twelve multiple endings. Yes, 12 endings in a 20-minute game. One small decision in the town can end up leading to Hero Man's imprisonment...or worse! This is where the game's length helps it dramatically. Because you can bum rush the game in 10-12 minutes to try and obtain a different ending, the replay value is high. Moreover, many of these endings, while hilarious, tend to end disastrously for Hero Man; you'll want to keep playing to see if he ends up meeting a fortunate fate.

In short, the story and its multiple endings are very well crafted. With one exception: the lack of a new game plus.

This is one of my few major gripes with the game. None of the endings carry over; you have to restart. There's no way to track the endings, and no bonus 13th ending for "finding" all 12 endings (this would've been bloody brilliant). Oh well: every game has missed opportunities, and that's why I never give out 5 stars.

O hai frankensprites.

Most of the graphics are from the old school Dragon Quest games, with a few edits and frankensprites here and there. Some color edits were made according to the developer, and the overall visual package is very cohesive. The maps are also well detailed, showing that Sgt has come a long way in his mapping since his early days. The tower could have used a bit more work, though.

Nevertheless, I think even Kentona would have been proud of the aesthetics here!

Audio is decent: the tracks are all from Dragon Quest, as are most of the sound effects. There is one issue: some of the default RTP sound effects are still used, and this sort of kills the immersion a little bit. The game would've benefited from going more all-out with the 8-bit sound effects, methinks.

Still, solid work in this department!

Edited scripts for this hero's solo adventure!

Sgt makes good use of custom scripts in this game, helping to differentiate it from other games of the old school genre. The menu in particular is well put together and simple: how it should be for such a short game. No issues with this.

I found gameplay to be a bit of a mixed bag, but generally good. My biggest gripe was the lack of a new game plus/carryover feature (per above), but I also felt the game was perhaps a little too simple. Even though the game is meant to be short due to its tight focus and multiple endings, some added gameplay features such as optional bosses, puzzles, etc. would've helped to add even depth to this game and enhance the replay value; after all, you'll have to play through all the initial content to get to some of the endings.

Battles, again, were simple, turn-based, and easy, but legitimate effort was made to keep them balanced and hard hitting at times. The Hero has an array of healing and status skills, though most of the skills aren't really useful (due to the low difficulty). There's only one boss, but he's a decent challenge at a lower level (though he could've been a little more intricate).

The equipment was well balanced and paced throughout this short adventure; heck, there was even a sequence in the final dungeon where you have to pick between a path that offers the Hero's Sword and a similar path that offers the Hero's Shield. I always picked the sword, but it was nice having a choice there!

Another missed opportunity was the lack of items in pots and urns. This is sort of a staple, at least in the old school games here on RMN, and it would've been really nice to see it implemented here. Had the new game plus feature been implemented, Sgt could've even had respawning collectibles that (1) accumulate throughout the playthroughs and (2) could be exchanged for some really neat stuff, perhaps to influence even more endings. Something like this would really underscore the replay value even more.

In short, the gameplay was simple, well balanced (albeit a little too easy), and perhaps slightly lacking; nevertheless, the gameplay was well designed and adequate enough to keep me coming back for about half of the endings.

I have a bunch of suggestions as per above, but I also think there is a point where adding too much could bloat the game and make it too unwieldy. Thus, I do understand the desire to keep it a little lean. It's better to start off simple and then find places to develop the game further. If you make your first game(s) bloated and overlong, you'll encounter a ton balancing issues, design flaws, glitches, etc. and you'll have no prior experience to help polish things up.

Hero Man is funny, short, and well polished. I was torn between a 3.5 and a 4, because there is plenty of room for improvement. The humor and complete nature of this game, as well as the fact that I must've replayed it 5-6 times, convinced me that it's worthy of a 4.

I recommend it to anyone who is a fan of humor and old school games in the same vein as Generica, Jay's Journey, and Centuria.

It would be nice to see this game developed even further, because Sgt is really on the right track here. He shows some solid talent here and could take this idea and run with it.

Story: 4/5
Gameplay: 3/5
Presentation: 4/5
Fun Factor: 4/5
Overall: 3.75/5


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Hmmm, yeah! That first one would've made a good ending. Now I kinda wish I had put that in, haha.

Also a special thanks to Deckiller for this awesome review! I appreciate the feedback and suggestions: they'll most certainly help with whatever I work on next! :)
"My father told me this would happen."
Deckiller beat me to a review, but it would have pretty much been what Deckiller said. That and I always picked the Hero's Shield.

Polished is the catch-all word I'd use. Honestly, as soon as I started playing this game I knew I was going to like it just because of the priest. Its like something I would write, only without all the anachronisms. But that's arguably what makes the game all the more fun.

Though as far as endings go, I was totally expecting
that there would be one for beating the game with the Bamboo Staff, or maybe with no equipment at all. The description did say to "Go save the world with this" so I did. Its pretty easy to beat the game at low levels thanks to Toxify. I'm assuming one of the endings is grinding to max level, maybe. I wasn't crazy enough to try it out though. It might also be funny if you got an ending for selling the Legendary Sword.

Fun game!
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