Heroki is a breeze — in a good way.
Helicopter-headed Heroki sees his floating village’s magic Emerix stolen by Dr. N. Forchin’s henchman, Vapor. The young hero volunteers to recover the Emerix, but the king first sends him to learn secret moves from three wise friends living on the islands below.
At first, I was turned off by Heroki’s floaty flying controls; he takes time to accelerate or change directions. A press of the B button drops him like a sack of rocks, a seemingly useless mechanic. His only attack sees him grabbing one of the many crates strewn throughout each level, aiming, and chucking it at an enemy. Miss, and the crate breaks.
Each level hides five emblems, a treasure chest, and the letters H-E-R-O-K-I (whatever that spells). I learned to swing Heroki’s momentum around to keep his pace. Dropping Heroki, it turns out, lets him slide quickly and satisfyingly along the ground. Collectibles were often hidden in invisible alcoves only keen-eyed players could see. Zipping back through levels looking for that last letter or emblem tickled the spacial awareness part of my brain usually reserved for Zelda dungeons. I began to like Heroki. Then came the water levels.
World two threw out all the fun physics of the air for slow, plodding water mechanics. Heroki swims slowly and can’t drop or slide while submerged. A level or two of this would have been fine, but an entire third of the levels make use of water. Ugh. An X-ray upgrade from the shop turned those well-hidden alcoves semi-transparent, killing a lot of challenge. I began to get tired of Heroki. I hoped exploring the village would break up the monotony.
Heroki’s home village seems to tease tons of quests and hidden items, but I found it pretty empty. I couldn’t even enter most of the buildings. The most tantalizing quest asked me to find three crashed ships hidden in levels. The art and music throughout the adventure are stellar, and the village is nice to fly around, but I wish Heroki had a few more quests linking the village and levels to spice up the otherwise straightforward path.
The desert island let me zip and slide around again, this time in challenging levels. Collectibles here were almost impossible to find without the X-ray specs, and enemy attacks barely left room to aim my own. Heroki was definitely designed for players of all skill levels, so I was surprised by the jump in difficulty. I still completed the game with every collectible and over 70 lives without having to replay anything, though. At least the Emerix is back where it belongs.
Looking at the colorful art, smooth animations, and strong level design, someone clearly loves Heroki. It isn’t me, but Heroki can be a great fit for younger players or those looking to unwind. Heroki is a light breeze perfect for between naps on a long summer road trip, just don’t expect to remember it when something else blows by.