Published on April 6th, 2015 | by Nicole Jekich1
A Cross-Over Race Against Time
Mighty Heroes and the Monster Zone Game Review
Multiple worlds are in chaos after an evil scientist tears reality asunder while trying to merge our universe with the Monster Zone. Players must escape their current world by navigating a spiral of planets and enter the wormhole to a new and safe alternate dimension. As a group of displaced pirates, ninjas, robots and spies, each must rely on their unique ability and strengths to outwit the other teams and escape. Only one group can escape through the wormhole. The losers are left behind in the chaos.
Race to the End of the Race
The end goal for Mighty Heroes and the Monster Zone is very clear: follow the path of planets, enter the wormhole and successfully defeat the monster to pass through and win the game before the other players. Got it! You always want to be Advancing during your turn if possible and trying to keep ahead of the other teams.
The only way to stop an advancing player is to attack them. The Attack action is a come from behind mechanic that benefits players who are struggling, and it works best against the person who is closest to winning. This effectively feels like playing a Munchkin game- there is a constant scramble to the end and all players have the ability to prevent the lead player from advancing.
The problem Mighty Heroes faces is that there aren’t any interesting choices to make during the course of the game. My characters just level up as long as they don’t lose a fight, you can’t choose which planet to go to, there is no question where the wormhole is or how to get there. Even the Special FX deck is mostly a lot of modifiers that just apply to you for a turn, without your input. Because there is not a lot of choice, there is no tension. I can’t be afraid that I’m making a mistake if there is hardly a mistake to make at all.
On top of that, the times where there is an apparent challenge involve pretty wide ranging dice rolls. That would normally mean really swingy combat (as in you swing and miss more than you hit) except that it’s so easy to level that I never even needed to roll the dice, I always had enough bonuses that I beat the monster flat out anyways.
Finishing a game of Mighty Heroes leaves a lot to be desired, I won but didn’t feel any accomplishment because I didn’t feel like I contributed much to my own success. Everything was a random monster that I was already powerful enough to take down anyways, including the “final boss” which is just another random monster.
If Reality is Ripped Apart…I Want the Game to be Bananas
As it stands, Mighty Heroes’ art feels very grounded in reality. The featured characters are dark and serious, the tone brooding and gritty. The monster choices span multiple genres and I like the variety of crossover involved in the game. Unfortunately, none of the art represented on the card shows the tense predicament these characters are in. When I’m told monsters are suddenly appearing and we’re fighting them with modern technology in order to escape our crumbling dimension, this immediately comes to mind:
The art for the different factions, especially the robot faction, is well rendered but needs to be pushed more in the direction of the game’s theme. I feel that if Mighty Heroes wants give some tension to their game and excitement there needs to be a lot more art that shows the desperation and immediacy of getting to the wormhole and the different conflicts throughout the game. Don’t tell me that there is conflict, show me there is conflict on the cards, and make conflict the driving force in your mechanics.
I like the design and color of the planets, but the fact that they do nothing special is a hugely missed design opportunity. You could name each planet, give it a theme and incorporate that into the art. Encountering the planets in a linear path was boring, it’d be much more exciting to have a ‘dungeon crawl” style game where you have to sort through the various dimensions for the right way home. That would give an interesting choice to players- deciding which way to expand the tiles. If each tile also had a special ability, this would work even better.
I also would like to see names for the units or factions other than “Spies, Ninjas, Robots,” etc. and changed to something more original. Naming the faction ‘spies’ seems redundant when all the character cards feature men in tuxes and women with a high slit evening dress and a thigh gun holster. That’s what the art is for, to show you what they are, you shouldn’t have to tell me quite so obviously by literally writing “SPIES” on the back of all of their cards.
I would like to see more personal names of units such as: “Alpha Team Robotics Squad”, “Captain High Tide and His Crew”, “DangerZone 009” etc. If a game designer is really into the genres you’re putting into their game, this really shouldn’t be an issue. Put a theme on there, anything really to make it less generic than “goblin” or “pirate” because honestly, seeing something that generic turns me off of a game almost immediately. It doesn’t have to be super original, but making a theme that is coherent shows that you actually care a lot about your product.
A Race to Find the Wormhole?
Mighty Heroes is a solid base for a game. There are definite artistic and thematic directions and clear game goals that showed well in the prototype copy. I feel that the game really needs to add more actual game to itself before it is ready for public consumption, though.
I feel all of the game from the design, mechanics and art need to be pushed further and made a better distributed challenge before heading to Kickstarter. Mighty Heroes and the Monster Zone has an opportunity to create a different type of genre mash up game and I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with in the future.
Really what Mighty Heroes needs is some tension and apprehension that gets generated by the way the game plays. If you started the game with a limited amount of resources and had to use those to take actions, that scarcity of resources could be a very powerful tool in generating tension.
You should be scared that you might not have what it takes to reach the last tile, where ever that is, and you may have to choose between sprinting to the end or blowing up the guy in front of you so he’s not in your way. Right now that tension is not reflected in the game, but I’m sure with more time to develop the rules that the folks at Might Hero games will have something solid on their hands.
Mighty Heroes and the Monster Zone was designed by Noah Wright of Mighty Heroes Games and it is coming soon to Kickstarter.