I'll come to the point immediately today: Legends of Heropolis [Free]is a terrible game. If you had access to a state-of-the-art 1966 Batcomputer and asked it to show you the worst possible outcome of a merger between a Kairosoft sim and a Japanese free-to-play social RPG, Legends of Heropolis is what it would belch out on those little printed strips of paper before self-destructing. It's overly-busy, the UI is disastrous, there are elements included that make no sense whatsoever for the theme, and the battle system is monotonous button mashing. While there isn't much in the way of a hard paywall, you are required to be online, you have a stamina system to deal with, and there's a gatcha-type random draw for gear to entice you to spend real money. Not content to merely borrow from Japanese free-to-play hits, there are also timers on buildings that you can rush if you're willing to pay. It's a veritable Megazord of mean-spirited ideas.

Since this is a Japanese game, the heroes referred to in the title aren't the capes and chiseled chins that Western fans might be expecting. Instead, it's a game based on Super Sentai, those rainbow-colored hero teams that were the basis for the popular Power Rangers franchise. I think it's a great idea for a simulation game. Sure, Chroma Squad kind of beat Kairosoft to the punch, but that's not on mobile yet and doesn't exactly play the idea straight. This being Kairosoft, however, means that there's going to be a lot of cruft grafted onto that concept. You'll have to build a city for your heroes, with all the facilities you would expect them to need and a whole lot you wouldn't. Of course there's farming. Of course there's fishing. I remember those great episodes of Tokaiger where the heroes had to stop fighting bad guys and grow onions for a while so that they could make and sell salads so that they could upgrade their suits. Brilliant.

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Even clearing the table of all of the bad monetization decisions in the game, which I'm going to go into shortly, Legends of Heropolis is a messy, hard-to-enjoy game. At its very best, it's treading the overly-familiar ground we've seen in earlier Kairosoft games. At its worst, it's a confusing, tangled, nonsensical mess of systems that are interconnected for no discernible reason. Most of the time, it's just boring. The game revolves around completing story battles. In these battles, you'll either have to defend your city against invading enemies, or head out to an enemy base to clear it out. Both work in essentially the same way.

Tapping on an enemy brings you to the battle screen, where you and the foes will be lined up in typical JRPG fashion. You can make your characters attack by tapping a button, but they'll need to rest between shots, lending things a pseudo-real time feel. After a while, you'll be able to morph into your costumes, which gives you access to that character's special skill. Defeat the enemy and you'll be sent back to the map. Once you've beaten them all, or taken out the boss, you win. These story battles unlock new features and facilities, and also give you valuable resources and experience.

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You might be tempted to take these missions on in order, but you'll eventually run into a wall if you do that. Enemies get harder, and the resources you collect from completing the battles are rarely sufficient to power up as much as you need to in order to handle them. So you'll end up repeating the same missions to gather more goods, which is even less fun than it is the first time around. I suppose it's something to do while you wait for the timers on things, though. Between battles, you'll need to build buildings and structures, plant seeds in your gardens, set your buildings to prepare recipes for goods, and invite people to visit your town. You'll also want to duck into your headquarters and do some upgrading to your suits. If you're feeling particularly frisky, you can try your hand at a draw for a new, more powerful suit. While space is initially limited, don't worry too much about it. Characters don't need a path to a building to use it, and you'll soon open up more land through a very bizarre auction mini-game.

As weird and out-of-place as some of these systems are, the basic idea of fighting to earn resources to upgrade your characters for tougher fights is a sound one. Sure, there are timers, but you can kill that time by fighting battles, so it's not that bad. Well, it wouldn't be, anyway, if it weren't for the stamina system. Doing a battle consumes some of your stamina, so repeating battles will quickly exhaust it and leave you with nothing to do but watch timers expire. Leveling up refills your stamina meter, so at least initially, you won't run into too many obstructions from this system, but the longer you play, the more restrictive it becomes. Similarly, the coins used for speeding up processes and drawing new suits flow nicely in the beginning, but the economy soon tilts against you heavily. Basically, you've got all the restrictions of a bad free-to-play game, and in exchange, all you get a disappointingly mediocre Kairosoft sim. The ever-present banner ads and occasional mandatory video ad are the cherry on top.

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Don't worry, though. You can buy out of most of the free-to-play stuff if you want. Just buy the Hero Pass for $9.99 and you'll remove the ads, get some premium coins every day, and have all of your other resource caps increased significantly. You'll be able to field some extra teams, too. But wait, what about the stamina system? Oh friends, that's an extra IAP. You'll have to pay an extra $12.99 if you want to be freed from those shackles. That just leaves the online requirement and the dreadful balance to deal with. Being able to carry more healing items helps mitigate that, but what a miserable excuse for balancing a badly-designed battle system that is. Any RPG that asks you to spam healing items to survive a simple battle is probably not one worth playing.

That the price of buying out of all of this could buy you three or four of Kairosoft's premium titles makes it much worse. Maybe it's because even after spending more than $20.00, you're still left with a game that feels like a free-to-play experience. Maybe it's because Legends of Heropolis is so lousy that it wouldn't be that enjoyable even with every stitch of monetization trickery sucked out of it. I can't decide, so you can pick.

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Look, I'm used to Kairosoft not impressing me or surprising me. That's more or less their stock-in-trade. I'm not used to them disappointing me, at least not on this level. Legends of Heropolis takes a promising concept, strangles it with excess systems that only weaken the broth, then pours the whole works into a pot half-filled with soapy water. Dinner is served, friends. This is an awful Kairosoft simulation. This is a poor free-to-play social RPG. I haven't even mentioned the frequent bugs, have I? Well, those are there, too. I wouldn't serve this slop to the second Black Power Ranger, and we all know I have it in for that guy. Perhaps if we all try our best to avoid eye contact, Legends of Heropolis will go away. If this is the future of Kairosoft, they're going to get beaten down like Putties who get between Tommy and the racks of green clothing at K-Mart.

TouchArcade Rating

StarNoneNoneNoneNone
  • cabuckn

    I haven't touched the game because everyone says it's terrible. I think this is the first 1 star review I've seen. Confirms how awful it must be.

    • Pixy Misa

      I've been playing it an hour or so a day for the past week. It's not awful, but it is disorganised. It's like someone threw your five favorite foods into a pot and made a chocolate-pizza-banana-steak-camembert stew.

  • creyes123

    Shaun, don't hold back. What did you really think of the game?

    Seriously - thanks for a very honest and informative review. That is why I keep coming back.

  • curtneedsaride

    Wow. Such a bummer. I'm keen to try a new Kairosoft title every now and then. Guess this one won't make the list! Thanks for enduring it so we don't have to.

  • ingridduggan

    Second 1 star review of 2016, must be pretty bad then

  • torosama

    I thought maybe it was just me ...... I deleted it after 20 minutes. Oh well, back to not playing Pokémon.

  • hyperthyme

    "Eliminate EvilCorp! For Great Justice!"

    All your base r belong to us.

    This HAS to be a joke app by Kairo.

  • Shiro

    I think you meant ToQger

  • benson1

    Awe, their games used to be pretty above average :/

  • Anastasia Ugoleva

    1 star ha ha

  • theundertow

    I think it's a decently fun game...I paid the $10 to remove ads and mostly just need to suffer through stamina timers. Adding friends allow you to take advantage of them on your team...I found one that was op and helps progress.

    I would rate it a 3* game albeit a hungry IAP 3*. You can get coins through achievements so it's a little less painful than it would be otherwise.

    • Cepcion

      Why suffer? For even $5 you could get another full Kairosoft title. I'm sure there's scores of other highly rated sim games at less than $5

      • theundertow

        Valid point - I have most of the Kairosoft games, this is just latest one for me. Despite its warts, I actually like the game which is why I stuck with it but do wish it, like all other FTPs, were premium without all the IAP bs.

        I don't mind spending a little on IAP given historically I would pay $60 for a game and have a 50/50 chance of liking it (regardless of review scores).

        I certainly miss the days of a $5 and full Kairsoft game but they're on the microtransacrion bandwagon like everyone else.

      • Pixy Misa

        Kairosoft have been doing their thing for 20 years now, releasing good games and making a bit of money.

        But recently they've seen newer companies making some frankly uninspired games and earning hundreds of millions of dollars on IAP. Can't blame them for trying.

        And they released a new full-priced game today, so the Kairosoft we love is still around. It's like we have their slightly evil twin, Wairosoft, now as well.

  • Left Empty

    I don't know if it's been mentionned on the forums, but for the last couple of weeks, Kairo have been "updating" all their games to remove the Japanese language from them, while releasing Japanese-only version alongside... for an extra buck or two over the normal price.
    Very classy. And not giving this company another cents.

  • wfsm

    I tried it for 10 mins, deleted it after that, and not have any interest to install it again.

  • Tallgeese

    Yes, Shaun, let the "veritable Megazord" of hate flow through you! Also do I have to ask why you wouldn't serve the... *ahem* certain color of power ranger... in your metaphorical restaurant?

  • chinito77

    I really enjoyed this game for a day or two, then try as I might, I hit that wall which could not be climbed. As a Super Sentai fan, the concept is good but the execution falls short. I can't understand what growing vegetables, playing the stock market, buying homes so people can visit your town, and sending your team on 13 hour missions to find treasure has anything to do with being a legend of Heropolis. I would not suggest to even the most hardcore person to download it. Take my word, it's just a horrible money grabbing IAP ridden mess.

  • Writersareliars

    Damn. This was the only Kairosoft game that seriously piqued my interest. 🙁

  • whitestatic

    This was my first experience with Kairosoft games and thought it was horrible (and then assumed all previous games were similar). Glad to know it wasn't just me.

  • Pixy Misa

    I kind of like it, though it's certainly not their best. But I think with a few tweaks to the gameplay and UI it could be a much better game, without affecting IAP revenue. In that, it's disappointing.

    But this is Kairosoft we're talking about, not Bioware. They released a new game today, and have announced another six coming soon.

Legends of Heropolis Reviewed by Shaun Musgrave on . Rating: 1