While I wasn’t blown away by SEGA Heroes (Free), its attention to fanservice and multitude of characters give it strong appeal to SEGA fans young and old alike. Like any free-to-play puzzle RPG, there’s an element of luck to the game that can set just about any good plan awry, but if you know what you’re doing, you can mitigate its effects to some extent. And that’s what I’m here for! I’ve played a ton of this game, and I’ve piled up some tips and strategies to help you, dear reader. Now, let’s get out there and win one for Big the Cat and Froggy!
SEGA Heroes is one of those games that opens up gradually. The number of modes you can play, shops you can access, events you can challenge,and heroes you can discover are to a great degree fixed to your player level. Get used to Blaze, Ax Battler, AiAi, and Amy, because you’re going to be stuck with them for a bit. If you want more than that, you need to work on increasing your player level.
Early on, the most straightforward way to increase your player level is to play the campaign maps when you have the stamina to do so. You’ll also want to make sure you’re opening the free chests when they are available, and doing any and all goals that you can each day. If you manage to finish every goal, you’ll earn an extra chest that has a bunch of experience points in it.
You’re going to earn quite a lot of resources early on in the game as you clear achievements and stages for the first time. It will seem like you’re getting far more than you can ever use, but keep in mind that this windfall is a temporary one. Don’t spend these resources carelessly, as you’re almost certainly going to want to change out your team members in the long run and upgrading them past a certain point is very costly in relation to how many resources you’ll bring in over the long haul.
Once you get a few levels, you’ll have some events opened up for you. These change every day, but many of them will repeat from week to week. The items you get from completing a stage in each event for the first time are quite good, but the difficulty ramps up quickly. You can only clear a stage once each time the event shows up, so you won’t be able to grind the rewards they offer. Still, it costs no stamina or items to try an event, so you might as well go as far as you can each time. Events will often have restrictions, requiring certain characters or star ranks.
Building Your Team
There are no two ways about it: you’re going to be stuck with the starting team for a little while, so you’re going to need to spend some of your precious resources on upgrading them. Don’t worry too much about this. The first ten levels for each character demands very little in the way of resources, and the next ten aren’t too bad either. Past level 20, things get very pricey. You’ll want to think carefully before investing in any character past that stage. Every ten levels, you’ll need to spend some materials to break each character’s limit so that they can keep on leveling up. Breaking level 10 doesn’t cost much, but breaking level 20 is very costly.
While it’s okay to keep your starting characters leveled up until they reach level 20, you’ll want to be more careful about upgrading their skills. The amount of skill materials you’ll earn will drop off sharply once you’ve run through one weekly cycle of events. Basically, if you don’t find a starting character’s skill very useful, you may want to hold off on upgrading it. In general, you’ll probably want to upgrade MAX Skills and some of the Star Skills, but don’t waste materials on Passive Skills until you know you’re keeping a character on your active roster.
Ranking up fortunately doesn’t draw from shared materials among characters. Instead, you need a particular amount of character shards. You’ll almost certainly want to rank up your starting team to at least the second rank. There are lots of ways to get shards, but the most reliable way to do it without spending money is by looting cleared courses. Unfortunately, only Blaze and Amy have shards available early on in the campaign. Thus, you may want to consider swapping out Ax Battler and AiAi for Ageha and Adam Hunter, both of whom have character shards available in the first few zones.
If you want to have a strong team, it’s generally better to focus on a single group of characters. Collecting new characters is fun and it does have its value if you mean to dive into Survival Mode, but if you have the means, it’s almost always better to rank up a core team than to divide resources among a crowd. Otherwise, you’re going to find yourself unable to proceed past the earliest stages in any mode.
Pay attention to the character colors. You can’t have more than one of each color on your team. If you love your current blue character, chasing after another blue character may not be the wisest course of action. When you do start expanding your roster, try to keep the number of each color balanced. You’ll use more than just your starting team in the Survival Mode, but if you don’t have enough of each color to field a full team each time, you’re going to have to go into a level short-handed. This is not a great situation.
Tips for Campaign Mode
How far you’re able to go in this mode is going to rely heavily on how strong your team is, which means a great deal of whether or not you can win has little to do with how you play. Still, the usual matching puzzle tips apply. Try to look for bigger matches or combos on the board. Match lower on the board if possible as it increases the chances you’ll create a combo.
Know your team. It’s important to remember who are your heavy hitters and who is there to support. Try to prioritize matches for your strongest character where possible, unless you have need of a particular kind of MAX skill like healing or a magic attack. Keep an eye on your life bars, and don’t forget that you can tap on a particular enemy to direct your attacks at them. You’ll want to first clear out enemies that use annoying attacks or moves, such as healers or those who hit you with status ailments.
Manage your skills carefully. MAX skills can be charged by making matches. While you may be tempted to use them as soon as they’re ready, it’s sometimes wise to hold on to them. If there’s only one enemy left in the group, a multi-target skill is going to be partially wasted. Similarly, MAX skills that deal heavy damage shouldn’t be used on enemies who are nearly dead already. Either hold on to the skill or switch to another target. That said, if a character is knocked out before they use a skill, you’ll lose your chance, so if someone is low on health, you might as well smoke them if you’ve got them.
Due to unexpected board shifts, it’s a little harder to control when Star skills will be activated. Still, just like with MAX skills, it’s important to try and hold off until you need to use them. When you set off a big Star skill, it will explode and take out surrounding blocks. If those blocks contain other Star skills, your team will fire off a nasty combo that is great for taking out boss-level characters. Again, you’ll want to mind your targeting here. You can’t help some skills from going off, but if you’re setting one off yourself, make sure you’re pointing at an enemy worth hitting.
If an enemy hits you with a status ailment, check how many hit points they have left. If the enemy is nearly dead, it’s best to finish them off. Once they’re dead, any pieces on the board they infected will go back to normal blocks. If the enemy has a lot of life left, however, you may want to try to match the troubled piece away. This is particularly important if the infected piece regenerates health for the enemy, as you can quickly end up in partial stalemate that will cause unnecessary trouble for you.
Tips for Arena Mode
Until you’ve got a strong team together, you may want to aim low with your chosen opponent. You’ll still finish your daily goal whether you win or not, but winning does improve your rank, which in turn gives you better rewards each day. This is a great way to get some character shards without a lot of hassle, and the higher the rate you earn Arena coins, the sooner you’ll be able to get the character shards you want from the shop. Don’t aim too high if you’re not sure of your team’s capabilities.
Status ailments and debuffs don’t seem to stick as well against Arena mode opponents, so it’s probably better to focus on characters who can dish out heavy damage as opposed to those who debuff or use status ailments. Ax Battler can be a game breaker against normal enemies with his MAX skill’s ability to inflict stun, but Ageha’s powerful direct attack is a lot more useful in Arena mode, for example.
Keep in mind that unlike in the other modes, in Arena mode you’ll be taking turns making matches on the board with the computer player. Don’t set up a great match with your turn, because the computer will simply take it from you. There are some nice things about this, though. First of all, the enemy’s Star skills will appear on the board, just like yours. If you match them away, the computer player won’t be able to use them. Of course, this works just as well against you, so don’t stockpile too many Star skills.
The other bit of good news is that the computer player is really, really easy to lead around. For example, it will almost always make the biggest match it can. Even if the character corresponding to that character is knocked out, or if dealing direct damage would be more advantageous than matching purple pieces, the computer will still go straight for the big match. Keep this in mind while you’re taking your turns, as it can really work to your advantage in some situations.
Of course, just like with your party, the enemy’s characters will be resurrected after a certain number of matching pieces are cleared. Because of this, it’s better to pick off weaker characters first, leaving the strongest for last. Then, before dealing the killing blow, wipe out any of the weak characters who have come back. Mopping up resurrected weak characters isn’t too tough, but having to take down the big guns more than once is not going to work out in your favor.
Tips for Survival Mode
In general, this mode plays out similarly to the campaign. The main differences come in the persistence of character status and the ability to swap out team members between battles. As this mode unlocks at player level 20, I’m going to assume you understand the basics by now. As such, my advice will be limited to these Survival Mode-specific differences.
While you may be tempted to send out your strongest characters first, it’s actually better to send out your weaker team members on earlier levels. If a stage is tough enough to smack down your best characters, your weakest ones will get stomped quickly. Thus, their best use is to absorb some of the damage that earlier stages might inflict on your best team. It’s also wise to group together stronger characters in one team. As tempting as it may be to spread out your powerful units, they’re going to be more effective as a single team without any dead weight.
Your characters’ life meters will carry over from stage to stage, but the enemies will also carry over their life meters should your current team wipe against them. If a tough enemy only has a sliver of life left, it’s worth trying to throw whatever you have left against them, even if those characters are weak. They just may be able to finish the job. Keep in mind that characters will not resurrect in Survival Mode. Once they’re out, they’re out for good until you reset the map.
MAX skill meters will also carry over from stage to stage. As such, you may want to not just hang on to your MAX skills within each battle, but also to consider saving them for the next stage entirely. Being able to start off a stage with a powerful attack is very useful, especially if the stage contains an enemy that resists physical attacks.
Keep some low-level characters on hand so that you can easily and cheaply clear each day’s goal of leveling a character up. Once the goal for collecting character shards shows up, you might find it difficult to keep on top of completing all the daily goals. Unless you really want the character in question, try not to waste gems or coins buying these shards from the main shop. You can get shards from the Arena shop and the Survival shop, which should allow you to reliably clear this goal on most days.
Don’t waste your coins. It may seem like you’ve got lots of them early on, but things get very expensive very quickly past player level 20. You’re going to need all the coins you can get. It’s best to save up your gems, too. Certain powerful characters might be offered in limited-time packs, and that’s probably the best way to use your gems provided you have enough of them on hand.
Pay careful attention to each character’s skills and try to think about how characters can work best with one another. Not all combinations are equal. This may mean using characters you don’t know well instead of old favorites, but there’s no harm in branching out. You may even discover a new-to-you SEGA series to check out.
With so many timers and cooldowns in play, you should probably consider playing the game in shorter intervals a few times a day to maximize your free resources. You’ll especially want to make sure that you earn all eight free chests per day, which will give you lots of extra stamina, coins, experience, and character shards. Doing your three Arena battles each day will ensure that you have enough Arena coins to pick up some shards every day or two. Even if you don’t have time to play, it only takes a few seconds to burn your stamina looting stages.
While SEGA Heroes will certainly have new heroes and gameplay elements added over time, the advice in this guide should be quite useful for getting you on your way to collecting and powering up all of your SEGA favorites. Like any game of this sort, it really just takes patience to get where you want, so try not to worry too much about what you don’t have today. It will come eventually. Or at least, that’s what Sonic tells me.