Michael McConnell, May 31, 2012
My Little Hero is equal parts “Legend of Zelda“ and “Little Nemo in Slumberland.“ Instead of green tunic and the master sword, you get PJ’s and a toy sword. Instead of making your way to Slumberland, you’re chasing the Bogeyman through your dreams trying to recover all of your stuffed animals. It’s a good mix for an action-RPG.
My Little Hero feels like an 8-bit classic. You get a brief opening cinematic, and you’re dropped into the game. The bogeyman took your stuffed animals and you have to chase him to get them all back. Your only tools are a cardboard helmet and wooden sword. Though some players may think they’re going to run into Lions and Witches, instead you run into a surreal world of childhood nightmares.
The game plays in an isometric perspective like the original Legend of Zelda, and has virtual controls. The art style is very surreal, and is singular enough that this game still feels unique while wearing its influences on its sleeve.
Telling a story without words
Modern games seem to fall into two categories: heavy stories inspired by summer action blockbusters, or arcade like casual games with little to no pretense. That’s a gross generalization, but there aren’t a lot of games that give the player an empty vessel for their imagination. My Little Hero gives you a pretty straight forward story, no different from ”rescue the princess“ or ”defeat Mother Brain.” You have a single goal, chase down the Bogeyman and collect your stolen stuffed rabbit.
You can collect all of the stolen stuffed animals, but it requires some investigation to find side quests. These become pretty difficult to find early in the game, providing plenty of incentive to replay levels as you go. You don’t get many clues as to where to go or what to find, just signposts along the route that give you a brief hint.
The game is divided into five parts. Think of the worlds in “Super Mario Bros. 3,” each has their own themes and enemies. Each of those is broken into a set of smaller levels and a final boss. Each of the smaller levels is about 15-20 minutes, perfect for a lunch break or bus ride to work. (If you’ve got more time to kill, like a long holiday weekend, this game can take most of your afternoon.)
Combat and Enemies
If you’ve ever played an action-RPG you should be able to pick this up easily. The virtual controls are responsive, and this allows for the new gadgets you find in your adventure to simply become another button on the screen.
The enemies are derived from the stuffed animals of the main character. It doesn’t take long to realize that this kid’s parents mustn’t like him very much, these are the freakiest toys I’ve ever seen. When you smash the enemies they drop their buttons. These are the game’s currency, though this isn’t very clear early on. All you use them for in the early levels is buying health refills near the end of levels. Once you finish the first section, you’re able to repair your stuffed animal version of the boss to unlock a permanent health upgrade.
The enemies are all pattern based, which increases the classic feel of the game. The boss fights are very elaborate patterns, while the smaller enemies just have a repetitive strike and dodge set of moves. There are enough of the smaller enemies to keep it interesting, and the bosses provide a serious challenge. You won’t walk away frustrated, but it also isn’t simply just killing time. It takes some skill to play this game.
My Little Hero is sort of like seeing a band that’s influenced by all of your favorite bands. You can recognize where each part is pulled from, and see where things have been blended together to create something unique. I wish the iPad version would have simply been a universal upgrade for the iPhone version. However it’s a small gripe with a great game. My Little Hero HD is only $1.99 on the App Store.Follow @macgasm