App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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I’ve become fond of online turn-based mobile gaming more and more these days. I believe this is because of the way each turn can be labored over for as long as needed before submitting it and waiting for the opponent’s move. That and the very nature of turn-based iOS gaming is perfect for on-the-go play sessions. So it stands to reason that a cooperative turn-based multiplayer iOS RPG would be amazing, right? Well yeah, Pocket Heroes is cool in theory, but the practice part needs a little more refinement.
Pocket Heroes essentially takes the single-player RPG experience and turns it into a group activity. The mechanics are very similar to most iOS Roguelikes with tile-based movement and attacking, but the game itself is nowhere near as difficult. And level design isn’t random. Each player takes their turn, which consists of moving if they so desire and performing actions that take up a set amount of AP. Once one or both actions are performed they then submit their turn to the server and wait until their buddies have had a go. Repeat until the forces of evil are vanquished.
As someone who tends to love RPGs and has developed something of an infatuation with iOS multiplayer, I can’t help but find myself excited about Pocket Heroes. It looks delightfully retro, vaguely resembles a subgenre that I’ve come to adore, and one of the character classes is basically a dwarf in a robot suit. Color me sold. Of course it’s also cool to be able to play with friends (Game Center and email invites are supported) cooperatively. Teaming up practically anytime, anywhere, to trounce baddies and collect loot is just awesome.
Where Pocket Heroes starts to run into trouble is in the smaller details. For example the interface is effective, but could use a bit of tweaking to remove clutter and clean up some edges. Navigating through the menus to equip new gear feels a bit unwieldy as well. The notifications for new chat messages could be more obvious, using special skills could be a little more seamless, and so on. However the biggest drawback is one that can’t be fixed by any number of updates: the pace. Every iOS game with a similar multiplayer structure has this problem, and until they develop a way to force other players to take their turns there will always be times where one simply sits and stares at their phone helplessly. Desperate to move on but unable to because of some hang-up on another person’s end.
Pocket Heroes shows immense promise and is plenty interesting as-is when everyone is active. But that’s the rub. Only time will tell if it will become a hub of activity or a complete ghost town.