For better or worse free to play games are all the rage these days. Software developers have embraced the drug-dealing stratagem of “the first one is free.” Browse any mobile phone app store and you will find a plethora of titles promising fun for nowt. The catch is that once your hooked you’ll inevitably hit an impassable obstacle, which can only be circumvented by dipping into your financial reserves. Curse ye sudden difficulty spikes… and don’t get me started on that pesky energy bar, which takes hours to replenish. This type of pay model isn’t limited to Chinese programmers peddling the latest Farmville knock-off though. Even giant corporations like Sony are in on the act. Case and point – No Heroes Allowed: No Puzzles Either! for the PlayStation Vita.
No Heroes Allowed: No Puzzles Either! is a fantasy themed match three puzzler developed by Sony Computer Entertainment. The aim of the game is to prevent the nefarious Lord Badman from being apprehended by meddlesome heroes (thankfully said heroes don’t include the Avengers, or else we would be royally screwed.) During each level a party of three adventurers shall descend down from the surface. Players must vanquish the do-gooders before they reach the subterranean lair at the bottom of the screen, where Badman resides. In order to defeat the invading knights and sorcerers you’ll be required to summon forth an army of monsters, which is accomplished by lining up three tiles of the same colour on a 5×7 grid.
As you progress through the sixty-four level campaign enemies become more durable and will gain the ability to transform coloured tiles into useless metal blocks. Overcoming these mightier foes will require that players upgrade their monstrous minions, much like how Apple expects consumers to upgrade their phones annually. To raise a creature’s attributes players can feed their beasties snacks, obtainable through mining. Monsters can also evolve into beefier forms by sacrificing the heroes you sometimes capture at the end of a stage. Generally speaking evolved monsters deal greater damage than their predecessors, but some critters also acquire additional skills too. The powers in question range from poisonous strikes to attacks that make an opponent temporarily snooze.
My rating for No Heroes Allowed: No Puzzles Either! is four stars. Like I commented on my Huniepop review, I am a sucker for a good match three game (provided that it isn’t coded by the litigious scumbags responsible for Candy Crush.) The brain-teasing nature of the gameplay is a lot of fun and I also approved of the title’s RPG mechanics. As someone lacking smarts I welcomed the option of levelling up monsters to make taxing stages a little less tough. Other pluses in No Heroes Allowed’s favour are its charming 8 bit visuals and the humorous dialog spouted by Badman. Although some cheapskates may not find his utterings to be funny, I couldn’t help but chuckle when he goaded me to spend my own COLD HARD CASH during a tutorial segment.
Speaking of cash, I feel that No Heroes Allowed does free to play in an ethical way. I normally loathe micro-transactions because they prey on compulsive players who lack any sense of self-control. Some free to play titles are nothing more than slot machines designed to milk gamers via ludicrously expensive single use items. No Heroes Allowed on the other hand is more of a glorified demo. Theoretically speaking you could beat the game without spending a dime, but it would require supreme patience given that the title limits how often you can play on a daily basis. If you enjoy the free version you might as well pay the modest sum of £8.00 to unlock the restriction free full experience. Although freebies are nice, I am more than okay with compensating a developer that has given me over sixteen hours worth of entertainment.