Review: 1000 Heroz

1000 Heroz is based on an intriguing and ambitious premise. It’s a 2D platformer for the iPhone and iPad, developed by the creators of Trials HD, RedLynx, and every day for the next three years or so they’re going to release a new level until they reach the magic number of 1000 levels.

1000 Heroz isn’t a conventional platformer: rather than running through a gauntlet of lethal hazards, you simply have to get from the start point to the finish line within a certain length of time so you can unlock a relic. Stones, branches and springs impede your progress, adding seconds to your time that you can’t afford to spare. In a sense this gameplay is quite satisfying. There’s an attractive physical feel to it, a certain satisfaction in building up your avatar’s momentum, in tweaking your run until it comes under time. And there’s a sense of humour running through it as well, with each day’s hero and relic summed up with an amusing nugget of text.

A screenshot of a grasslands level of 1000 Heroz

I took these screenshots with my own fair hands

But there are some quite substancial problems with 1000 Heroz. Because new players might jump in at any point, the game has no difficulty curve. And it doesn’t (and perhaps can’t) introduce new ideas and explore them. This means the resulting game is pretty one-note, a collection of 1000 short levels all of which involve a not-particularly-challenging dash through a limited palette of obstacles. The lack of variety goes further than that. There are only three kinds of level: a plains/grasslands level, a desert/wilderness level and a snowy/night-time level. The differences are only aesthetic, the same level furniture appearing re-skinned in each. And the level graphics for each of the three varieties are bland.

A screenshot of a desert level from 1000 Heroz

Here you can see the background art

Oddly, the tools the developers have used to create the character designs and levels for 1000 Heroz don’t seem to be able to compete with the limited tools offered by games based around user-generated content – the titular 1000 heroes are only able to offer a fraction of the variety that Nintendo’s Miis can, the unimaginative levels unable to compete with the creativity on offer in Sony’s LittleBigPlanet. It’s hard to understand why RedLynx have given themselves so little capacity for variety, creativity. This is a project intended to last for 1000 days, 1000 levels, and yet RedLynx have pretty much condemned the player to play the same, albeit reasonably entertaining, level over and over again.

The game is certainly adequate entertainment but as a concept it’s really disappointing, a three-year burden for both the developer and the player. It really says something about the creativity on offer in a 2D platformer when you find yourself wishing for a lava level.

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