By David Mayne
App Release: 2012
Genre: Action Platformer
I haaave the powwwwer!!!
Who doesn’t like He-Man? Who doesn’t like retro, side-scrolling goodness? Combine those with the crystal clear screen and intuitive touch controls of the Apple iPad, and we are indeed talking about “The Most Powerful Game In The Universe”. Ok, to be fair, He-Man on the iPad isn’t quite the most powerful game in the world, but developer Chillingo does deliver a fun and frenzied old-school platformer to our phones and tablets, not to mention in the guise of one of our favorite childhood franchises.
In He-Man, you control (as you can probably guess) Adam of Eternia, aka He-Man, as you hack and slash your way across the wild planet of Eternia, fighting hordes of Skeletor’s evil minions, not to mention really cool boss battles with the likes of old favorites such as BeastMan, MerMan, and Trap Jaw. The controls are pretty basic, with a virtual “d-pad” for movement, and an attack “button” to swing the mighty Power Sword. To jump, you simply swipe up with the same button used for attacking. I’ve read a lot of complaints about this design decision, but honestly, I’ve never had a problem with it. You’ll also be able to upgrade and somewhat customize He-Man with various power-ups, acquired by collecting in-game “gems”. As you can probably guess, as is the case with many apps nowadays, you can also purchase these gems via in-app transactions, sort of defeating the challenge of actually collecting them. While it does take multiple play-throughs of a level to acquire enough gems for said upgrades, I welcomed the “grinding” aspect of it, and wouldn’t dare spend more money on a game that I had already paid for. In-app purchases are big business in the mobile gaming world these days, and while I have never forked over real-world cash for fantasy-world fulfillment, I can see how impatient gamers might shell out five or ten bucks to get ahead.
Graphically, He-Man for the iPad is gorgeous. Looking more like Star Wars: The Clone Wars than the classic He-Man of old, this version really jumps off the screen with crisp and detailed textures, backgrounds, and colors. I’ve yet to compare He-Man on both the iPad 1 and iPad 2, but I’m sure it looks a bit crisper on the latter. Harkening back to the 16-bit glory days, He-Man looks more like a high-resolution game from 1995 than 2012, but don’t let that detract you.
The sound is a bit of a mixed bag, sadly. The music is decent and there are a few “token” He-Man phrases (“I have the power!!”) tossed in every once in a while, yet the complete lack of any voice-overs really holds this game back from greatness in my opinion. While it’s only 99 cents, I think that Chillingo should have gone the extra mile and invested in some voice actors to really complete the overall package. It’s almost the year 2013, and voice in video games is not only the standard, it’s downright expected. I get that some indie developers might not have budgets for voice acting, but come on, if they secured the rights to He-Man, I’m sure they could have set aside some extra spending cash for vocals.
Overall, He-Man is a fun and challenging platformer for the iPad and iPhone, offering a lengthy campaign and lots of entertaining replayability. It’s lighthearted and sometimes humorous, while retaining all of the old-school He-Man goodness. Although it lacks voice overs, I think the torch is faithfully carried on and should get non-fans interested in the franchise, not to mention that all of the He-Man seasons are now on Netflix as an added bonus! Another movie perhaps…? Did someone say Ivan Drago?
Fun Factor: 9 – Fun hack-n-slash platforming gameplay
Graphics: 10 – Crisp, colorful, high-resolution characters and backgrounds. The new style is great!
Sound: 7.5 – Good music and funny voice snippets remind you it’s “He-Man”, but lack of voice overs hurts.
Control: 9 – For iPad virtual controls, He-Man does just fine. Some confusion between “attack” and “jump” apparently, but I didn’t experience it.
Lasting Appeal: 8.5 – If you like “grinding” to get all the upgrades and power-ups, He-Man has legs. If not, the initial play through is good enough for most.