Spring is here, and it’s time for the prequels. Accordingly, the folks at Snail have presented us the previous…um, next? installment of the Taichi Panda adventure: Taichi Panda: Heroes. So far, it’s proving to be a fun successor to the first…er, second? chapter.
As the name implies, you get more heroes to unlock and play. You can even switch out the heroes and play with new skill sets, so there’s plenty of variety to be enjoyed.
The audio and video in Taichi Panda: Heroes are well done and offer plenty of detail, even on the small iPhone screens. Aside from going even more nearsighted staring at my iPhone, the only real disadvantage of the small screen is getting some of the control buttons to work. The buttons themselves work just fine, but you will need to watch your aim as they require a precise location tap to use them. Nothing major, but don’t be surprised if you have to try a couple taps to get what you want from some of the buttons.
Not a disadvantage, but a curiosity, is the auto combat carried over from the original Taichi Panda; you can actually let the combat sequences fight themselves. For a game where part of the object of playing is to engage in combat, it seems a bit odd to have a feature which lets the game play itself while you watch.
As far as the game play is concerned, there are story elements to carry your heroes through the game world. You get to battle plenty of little bad guys and level bosses as you traverse the world map. Don’t forget to interact with all the characters you meet on the way—you may need the information or missions.
The controls are mostly easy to use. There is a D-pad joystick to move around and a big primary attack button. You also get some special attacks, but these come with a timer so you can’t use then all the time (nothing out of the ordinary). In some areas of the game—like the home base/market and some quest areas—you are in a common world with players from all over the place. Other areas, such as when you are completing story chapters, you are isolated from the rest of the online community. There are several areas and levels to fight through when you are playing through the story, so this game will provide plenty of play time.
There are plenty of items to collect, forge (merge and improve), upgrade, and so on. As you advance, there are skills to add and improve, character points to assign, new heroes to activate and add to your adventure party (the hero not in use as your primary character becomes your “sidekick”), and a plethora of inventory items to manage.
There are a lot of little things to play around with in this game, and if you like all the minutia management you’ll have a good time. If you like your games simple, this one may be a bit too involved.
Another game element which might throw beginners is the shared world experience. There are a lot of players in the real world using the same game characters, so keep an eye on your character name (floating over your head) to be sure you’re looking at “you.” One bit of very useful information you can see on the screen is tucked in the lower left corner—a battery life icon and a digital clock. This is a feature from which almost every game could benefit.
All things considered, Taichi Panda: Heroes offers a lot to do, plenty of options with which you can play around, a story to follow, stuff to manage, and bad guys to beat up. It’s plenty of fun on all sorts of fronts.