At this year’s PAX 2013, SEGA is hitting it off with another indie developer under the SEGA Alliance brand. This time lending a hand to a developer from the Netherlands, Picomy Games, to release their action game Heroki to iDevices. I was joined in by two of the developers, Michael Balm and Bobby Bouman, as well as SEGA Alliance producer John Eternal as they showcased a build running on an iPad to help explain the game mechanics and provide some insight on the development on the game.
Being a touch based game, there are three different control schemes that center around the idea of manipulating the winds to move your character, Heroki. Control scheme A has you tapping the opposite direction of the character to push the player as if you were generating wind sources, which also makes it easier to see what’s ahead of the player. Scheme B has you tapping the direction you want the character to move which for some may be easier, however I’d find my hand obstructing my view, making it a bit harder to control and navigate the environments.
Both control schemes allow for not only analog-like control, but supports multi touch, which generates multiple wind sources to help with more precise control which seems more ideal for iPhone or iPod devices for dual thumb control.
Both control schemes allow for not only analog-like control, but supports multi touch, which generates multiple wind sources to help with more precise control which seems more ideal for iPhone or iPod devices for dual thumb control. Scheme C provides a virtual joystick option, where a directional pad appears in the bottom left. This one is still under development and the developers stated it may also feature an action button for commands. Otherwise, the rest of the actions between the other control setups are pretty similar. Tapping Heroki and dragging away from the character will have him charge at enemies. If he is holding an item such as a crate or a rock, he will charge his throwing distance depending on how long the screen is pressed down. Additional moves include a downward thrust which allows your character to dive down which also serves as an attack, or latching onto chests by tapping them and dragging above the character to pull them open as well as wind traces that you learn throughout the game to perform specific actions.
Several helpful items appear throughout levels that are contained within crates. Some of which include hour glasses to slow down time to get past enemies much more easily, a boomerang item that can be used three times to help obtain collectables through walls and serves as an attack, as well as health pick-ups to heal your character. You can also make use of shops in Heroki’s home town to store item crates for later use. You can call upon an item create you’ve stored which doubles as an attack, which you can also drop and it will stay where you’ve placed it until you complete the level. There are also bonuses to collect like H-E-R-O-K-I letters, emeralds hidden around levels and coins to collect that can be used to purchase items from the hometown to help aid players. All these objects give an emphasis on exploration, which you will need to do so in order to unlock additional levels and more features.
Visually the game is vibrant with cute characters that seem inspired by several platformer games. Levels are presented in a 2.5D setting with clear visuals in that its easy to tell apart the environment and other objects, which also includes bloom and other special effects running at a smooth 60 frames per second. The main character’s actions are amusing to witness as his limbs dangle as he flies around levels or performs certain manuvers such as his downward thrust and his reactions towards objects in the environment.
The developers did mention the game was still under development, as there were certain NPCs that didn’t have all of their animated nuances implemented, and in some of the levels there would be groups of power ups placed together for the developers to demonstrate the different features of the game as they explained how they could be used to solve puzzles. Yet the game overall feels like a traditional action game put on a mobile device, which promises to show more appeal than most typical casual games by showcasing the developer’s love for family friendly games through the aesthetics and simple control scheme.
Picomy Games is looking at a holiday release for iPhone, iPod and iPad with a price to be announced later. They also mentioned they would like to work on other ports after the game’s development has completed.