Now I’ll admit, I was initially put-off by this whole digital distribution thing. Especially for my beloved PSP. I hated the idea behind the Go (still do, kinda), and thought the idea of owning an intangible digital copy of a game was laughable. I’ve since changed my tune, obviously, but I still think it’s nice to at least have the choice between physical and digital copies. But that’s a different topic for a different day in a different post. I’m here to talk about another game I’ll never, ever remove from the internal storage space of my electronic device. This week’s game is the third in a criminally overlooked (in my opinion) series involving evil gods, cruel warlords, meddlesome heroes and lots and lots of meandering monsters. I’m talking about No Heroes Allowed!
NeverDeletes chronicles and glorifies one downloadable title (PSP, PSN, XBLA, XBLIG, iOS, PC, etc…) that I’ve acquired and will never, ever remove for any reason whatsoever. I may not play them all the time, but I’ll always keep them around. That way I can re-experience their awesomeness on a whim, whenever the mood strikes me.
The original game, Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman! What Did I Do To Deserve This? (later renamed What Did I Do To Deserve This, My Lord? because DC is pretty much as retarded about “copyright” as Bethesda), was every bit as bizarre as its name implied. Players controlled a floating pickaxe and used it to tunnel out their own dungeon. Minerals in the rock would produce creatures that would shuffle more minerals around, and larger concentrations would produce stronger monsters. Eventually, heroes would come a-knocking and attempt to capture Badman, the “brains” behind the whole operation. The goal was to design a labyrinth of tunnels that played to each creature’s movement patterns and behaviors, turning all those irksome good guys into mulch before they so much as set eyes on the purple-clad ne’er-do-well.
It was filled with a shocking amount of depth and nuance, with careful planning (and oftentimes luck) essential to success. It was one of those take it or leave it kind of games where many, like myself, loved it but a lot of other people found it frustrating and inaccessible. The sequel helped by adding more levels, heroes and monster mutations based on various criteria. But then No Heroes Allowed! came out and took everything the second did right, made it even better, then added even more stuff. This is, without doubt, the game in the series to own. Newcomer or old fan, it doesn’t matter. This is the one.
First, there’s the addition of difficulty levels which make it much more friendly to newbies or rusty veterans. Then there’s all the “more,” like more heroes, more monsters, more challenges, more kingdoms, etc… A special Daily Dungeon mode is another new addition which throws a random assortment of all kinds of “tests” at players and then grades them on their ability to solve each one. Finally, there’s the water. The seemingly simple addition of water adds almost double the amount of strategy to the game. This stuff created its own self-sustaining ecosystem with its own monsters, mutations and rules.
This deceptively simple looking game, with its retro visuals and goofy (and very Japanese) humor, is one hell of a strategic/simulation gem. Aside from all the refinements and additions, what makes it so permanent on my PSP is the wealth of different scenarios and challenges on hand. The main game is fantastic by itself, but if I ever get tired of that I can also try for S rankings in the challenge mode, do a Daily Dungeon or mess around in the hero-less sandbox dungeon and try to discover new monsters to fill out missing encyclopedia entries. Honestly, unless a fourth and even more quintessential game comes out for this series, No Heroes Allowed! will forever be etched into my PSP’s memory stick.