By Michael Fontanini / January 21st, 2020
|Developer||FuRyu, Netchubiyori Limited|
|Release Date||December 3rd, 2019|
|Genre||Adventure, Role-Playing, Strategy|
|Platform||Nintendo Switch, PC (Steam), PlayStation 4|
|Age Rating||ESRB: T for Teen|
Lucky was just your average part-timer when he took a job at the tropical theme park resort known as Heroland. He quickly became a guide whose job is to help park guests adventure through its dungeons. Among the first guests he meets is Prince Elric (also known simply as 18), who is a spoiled fellow who has fallen to 18th in line for the throne of the Knowble Kingdom. With Lucky’s help, he sets out to defeat the Dark Lord to regain his rightful place as first in line for the throne. Along the way, unusual things start to reveal themselves. On one of Lucky’s first days at his new job, an incident happens where an obscenely expensive vase is destroyed. It is blamed on Lucky, leaving him millions in debt to the park! It soon becomes apparent that something strange is going on. Lucky and friends then begin the long task of uncovering the dark history of Heroland. Are you hero enough to get to the bottom of it all, or will you be forced to work here forever?
Heroland begins with you taking some guests out on your first dungeon runs, which are called tours. As you progress, more dungeons open up. Each one consists of a simple map screen with multiple battles followed by a boss encounter. After the boss is a treasure chest tile, where you get a random major treasure (furniture item). The tour summary screen tells you what treasures you might get, and if they are normal, rare, or super rare. Each dungeon also has multiple different tours in it. Along the way, you may get treasures, including furniture, plushies and weapon replicas that can be used to decorate your room. You can have a max of four of any furniture item in your storage. Plushies are basically stuffed animal replicas of monsters. The furniture mechanic doesn’t seem to have any effect on gameplay, but rather gives the treasures a little more purpose.
Some dungeons have branches in the planned path that give you a choice of which way to go. Usually one of the choices involves a tougher fight than the other. Difficulty depends on the types of enemies present and how many, as well as their vulnerabilities and yours. It’s fairly basic stuff. If an enemy is weak to fire, you want someone who can deal fire damage. Some attacks can cause issues for an unprepared hero. Electric attacks can stun, while others can poison or cause a hero to begin crying. Worry not though, as there are obviously items you can buy from one of the shops in-between tours that can remove these status effects from your heroes.
Being an RPG style game, Heroland of course has leveling up, but this happens in three different ways. First of all, Lucky can earn likes by doing tours with guests. Certain things, like giving them treasures found in the dungeon make them happier. Gaining likes is how you level up Lucky’s guide level. This can add more slots to your pouch, allowing you to take more items into dungeons. It also makes his Assistance bar fill faster, so you can help your guests more often in combat. The second form of leveling up involves your heroes. Killing monsters (which are actually park staffers), earns you MonCoin (the park’s internal currency). At the end of a tour, this is divvied up among the quests and acts as XP for them. Lucky also gets some, but for him it’s just money you can use to buy items in the shops (such as weapons, recovery items, etc.). The third thing that can level up is that each hero also has a friendship level with Lucky. When a hero reaches certain friendship levels, it unlocks a personal quest for them in the form of a new tour. Friendship points can be earned for a certain hero by giving them a command in battle or giving them a treasure found in the dungeon. When a hero’s friendship level with Lucky reaches level 6, their skill evolves into a more powerful one. Each hero has their own main skill. 18’s is a V-shaped slicing attack called Victory Slash that was passed down by the royal family.
After the Tour Results screen, a second screen appears and distributes a small amount of MonCoin to all guests that were not taking part in the current tour. Basically, they still get a little XP even though they didn’t take part in this tour. You can check on your heroes’ information anytime in the menus to see their levels and stats.
The menus also allow you to access other information, such as Lucky’s data page, your item storage inventory, and your treasure collection. You’ll want to check your item inventory before starting a new tour to make sure you have enough of everything you want to take in with you. It should also be noted that while the starter weapons for each character are unbreakable, anything better than these generally has durability. A weapon with durability has a chance to break at the end of a tour if the hero uses all their skill points for that special move. Skill points reset automatically after finishing a tour, so you don’t need to replenish them yourself. There are items that can do this by a small amount mid-battle though.
There are a surprising amount of different monsters in Heroland, so your MonDex will come in very handy. You can check it to see a given monster’s weaknesses or what treasures it has a chance to drop. The MonDex can only show information for monsters you’ve defeated at least once, though. More information, like what plushies they drop, will be filled in only after a monster of that type has dropped a given type of plushie upon defeat in battle. Some have more than one type they can drop. Monsters you have not defeated yet only appear as “?”. Collecting plushies from certain monsters can unlock new capsules in a special shop. These items are basically one-use special moves for Lucky that are based on the enemy whose plushie unlocked it. For example, they can spawn monsters that will fight for you. New ones are generally unlocked in a special shop only when you get rare plushies. New weapons unlock in the weapon shop when you collect certain weapon replicas, too. The treasure inventory screen is pretty much the same as the MonDex screen, but with treasures. Each plushie has a detailed description, just like your heroes do.
Heroland has a very zany style overall. The characters are like cardboard cutouts, and their animations are thus a bit silly. The dialog in story scenes is also very comical. This is one of those games that definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously. Its quirky style is a plus, as it definitely adds some charm to the game. The gameplay is a neat idea, but also a bit flawed. The pacing is a bit slow, and you mostly just watch your guests while helping and guiding them as needed to ensure their victory in battle. There is an option to toggle game speed between normal and 3x with a button press, which helps for sure. Overall, the gameplay isn’t engaging enough, especially when the game starts piling the extra weight of grindy-ness on top of it. There are over 20 hero characters in all, and only four can go on a given tour. So if you want to max them all out and unlock all of their personal quests, then you are going to be at it for quite a while.
Heroland also features some goofy music to go along with the zany overall style. The battle music is pretty good, too. The sound effects and animations do their jobs well. The story scenes will make you chuckle at times with how off the wall and comical they can be, and the music/sound effects fit them well.
Overall, Heroland is a fun little game. After a while it starts to become a bit grindy, though. You need engaging gameplay when things get grindy, and I feel like this game falls a bit short in that area. The tours feel more bland when you are just replaying them, and they take a bit too long due to the relatively slow pacing. The story dialogue only happens the first time you do a tour, which makes subsequent runs a bit faster. There are lots of hero characters to unlock and level up. The game also has tons of treasure items to collect (plushies, weapon replicas, and furniture for your room). So there is definitely plenty here to keep you busy for a long while. Heroland is available on the Nintendo Switch eShop for $39.99. You can also find it on PC (Steam) or on the PlayStation 4 store. Can you uncover Heroland‘s dark past, or will you be forced to work here for eternity?
Review copy provided by publisher.