(Review) SEGA Heroes

Have you ever thought to yourselves that you’d like to have your nostalgic SEGA memories monetized in a mobile phone app? You have? Well then you’re in luck! SEGA Heroes is here to help you with your phone battery that has too much energy left (it’s actually not as bad as other games I’ve played). Not only that, but if money is burning a hole in your wallet, then there are a plethora of ways to waste spend your hard-earned cash! With all of this sarcasm aside, is this app worth your time or money? Should you download it in the first place? Let me break it down for you.

So many heroes. So many options to build a team. So… much time and effort to figure out which ones work well with others. Or you could use reddit.

The gameplay reminds me of the adventure mode from Puzzle Quest for the original Wii (or DS if you liked controls that didn’t make you rage and come with a smaller screen). There’s a grand journey to go on, but it’s more linear this time. In both games you have heroes that level up and use special abilities that affect what’s going on the with the board. There are more options here though, as you can create a party of four heroes out of the available 33. Match-3’s have been around for a long time. However, you can’t make the same game over and over again and expect it to sell (unless you’re EA); you need to innovate. Sometimes that comes in the form of developing new mechanics or different ways to extend a game’s life. Sometimes that line is blurred. With phone games, there’s usually some artificial boundary created to slow progress without the infusion of cash and that’s basically what we’ve got here.

You’re given a basic set of heroes from SEGA games of days past. Characters from Sonic, Streets of Rage, Golden Axe and even (more recently added) Crazy Taxi are here to join the battle to stop Dremagen from merging all the different realities together. There are more heroes from different games included, but you get the picture. Friends and enemies join forces to take on this larger threat to make things go back to normal. The banter is quite humorous at times if not basically generic most of the time. It’s still interesting enough to have me wanted to finish the main campaign. Even if that won’t be for a while due to the necessity to level up. This campaign mode and another called Beyondering are where there are multiple lands to conquer with the latter not having much story at all. It does, however, allow you to play with specific heroes not allowed in the main campaign and requires you to level up your account to unlock it. That’s fair though.

We have made fire!

Each character has a set of “two” moves. Match tiles of a certain character’s color and they’ll perform a basic attack. Match four or more and create a star title. Match the star title and they’ll do a more powerful attack (better if it’s a super-star received by matching 5+ tiles). Match enough tiles and your characters will build up the energy to do a move activated when you touch their portrait found above the game board. Get them past level 10 and they gain a unique passive. The higher the level, the more powerful they are and the farther you can obviously progress. More modes are unlocked as you level up your account by progressing the story and accomplishing daily tasks. There is also an Arena mode that pits your select group of heroes against another player’s group for rewards. Other modes (or “daily events” might be a better way to describe them) are locked by requiring a specific character or characters and inevitably the ranked up versions of those specific heroes. Herein lies the rub.

All of these mechanics would be fine and expected in a phone app. Need more characters or want to cut down the grind? Buy the hard-to-get game specific currency! If you didn’t see the monetization coming, you have probably never played a mobile game. If you’ve seen worse, I want to know, but this is where the game shows its horrendously-ugly side. (Yeh, bold and underlined… it’s pretty rough!) It is completely optional though if you have patience. You don’t have to spend anything on SEGA Heroes as it is a free-to-play app. If you wanted to, I figured I could give you some math. You want some math? Let me give you some math my friend!

Let’s start you off with the best case scenario shall we? I mean, if we’re going to do this right, we may as well go all out! The best deal on Gems I’ve seen is the above mentioned 400% bonus payout for 2200 Gems for $9.99. (220 for $1-ish) The Legendary characters (like the newly arrived B. D. Joe) usually arrive with a deal for 25% off of their shards which are used to rank your characters up by a large margin. There are 10 ranks. Rank two takes 25 shards to progress past, 3 will run you 50, then 65, then 100 (for a 5 star rank) and I don’t have the requirements for the final 5 ranks, but I have to assume the stats continue to rise.

Here’s your best-case scenario cheat sheet! The best option for picking up Gems and the latest deal they had on a newly arrived hero.

So you decide that you need to have B.D. and are willing to take advantage of this “great deal”. He’s a 4 star Legendary hero so you need to get all 64 shards to unlock him. Tier one of this deal will grant you 10 shards for 1125 Gems. Tier 2 will run you 1700 Gems for 15 shards, Tier 3 is 2200 for 20, Tier 4 is 2700 for 20 and the fifth Tier will run you 8300 Gems for 65 shards. Tier four unlocks the character allowing it to be playable and the final Tier gets you more than half way through Rank 5. This runs you roughly $72.84. There are still five more ranks to grind through and this is only one of legendaries with around 32 other characters (for now) that can be raised to max rank all costing the same. The legendary character shards just cost more in-game currency and you don’t get as many options to buy them as you do with the Epic and lower Tier heroes.

“Well, I only want to pick the characters that I love from Phantasy Star.” As I mentioned above, some modes are character locked and some modes require you to be higher ranked. Even with your favorite band of heroes assembled, you can’t play everything. Last time I checked, you can’t even take all of the available characters with you in the main campaign. Some characters are for events only and they switch around daily. The first character I bought sounded cool at the time, but then I tried to take him on a journey through the main campaign and he was not even an option. You can technically ignore the main campaign if you want, but the ability to loot stages for a chance at shards for specific characters is one of the main draws to going further with the story. I’ve now got the ability to loot two stages for a chance at shards for one of the main heroes in my party. This only costs the energy you’d use to play the campaign, but if you’re willing to be patient, you can do both and play a bit of the campaign and focus your main game time on the other modes.

I know that I ended this review on a rather sour note. I wanted to be completely honest with how I felt the cash shop was set up. We all expect them in a free-to-play, mobile game. Usually they are filled with microtransactions. If you don’t pay out the nose, you are effectively purchasing dents in progress, not tangible progress. When you can spend above the cost of a new console-based game and unlock only one, single character (not even fully leveled or ranked up), it stabs at my core. That being said, the gameplay is solid. As it is a phone game, patience for progress is required for building up a good party or making progress in general. They have a great amount of heroes available to pick from. The basic mechanics along with the hero abilities attached to specific party members you can swap out for is great! The move differences between each character will have you wanting one or the other and probably planning out your ultimate Arena team. Trying to match different characters and their moves to create a team that complements itself is half of the fun for me. More and more I’m coming to terms with games being viable on phones or tablets. SEGA Heroes is a great game. However, if they want any money from me, they are going to have to do WORLDS better at building a cash shop. The one currently in place is crazy-insane and shouldn’t be rewarded at all until they make it reasonable or until you’re hemorrhaging Benjamins.

Further Reading on SEGA Heroes: Facebook / Google Play / Official Page / Twitter

Love it or hate it, let me know!