The Digimon animated series was a long-standing rival to the Pokémon cartoon series, yet it never hit the same level of hype or fame that its competitor achieved. That didn’t deter Namco Bandai from releasing a number of games for the Digimon franchise however, and Digimon did see its own success which continues to this day.
One such release is Digimon Heroes – a single-player, casual card battler that uses gameplay that is seen in addictive gem-matching games but puts a whole new card game twist on it. Match cards to have your Digimon perform attacks against enemy Digimon!
There is a certain nostalgia involved for people in my age group when it comes to playing games like these. I wonder if the gameplay is more up-to-date than my hazy memory of the Digimon universe? Let’s find out…
Is Digimon Heroes a good game, or a digi-disaster? Read on to find out…
Casual card battle games are usually the simplest of all CCGs to play on portable devices. This is because they tend to lack in strategic depth and instead offer you something that you can play for minutes or hours at a time without thinking too hard about it. Digimon Heroes stays true to this tradition, for the most part.
You’ll have to play through a very brief tutorial that shows you how to select the cards to match, trigger special skills of your Digimon, and to assign your attacks to specific enemies. Once you get through this, you will be able to explore the islands and the game’s features. There are more features than I would have expected from a game in this genre, which was a pleasant surprise!
Digimon Heroes uses some very simple gameplay mechanics. Instead of having cards and units attack one another, your team of Digimon will do the attacking. In order for them to conduct an attack, you will need to match a series of 3 cards that share the same color as one or more of your Digimon.
There is some slight complexity and depth to the gameplay beyond simple color matching, however. You can perform critical attacks by matching 3 of the same number within the matched color or by matching 3 of the wild cards that will trigger all of your Digimon to attack. Further depth comes from chaining attacks together as the game will auto-match other colored cards in groups of 3.
Your Digimon also have special effects that can be triggered by double-tapping them. Leader Digimon can use two abilities instead of one when double-tapped. The abilities that can be triggered range from buffs and heals to extra attacks. You can use them when available or save them for the tougher boss fights.
There isn’t a deep story to get involved with in Digimon Heroes. Instead, you just fight your way through the islands located on the battle screen and try and clear each one for its rewards. To take part in a battle, you expend energy which replenishes over time. You can earn additional Digimon, currency (both soft and premium), or upgrade items that can be used later to evolve your Digimon.
Despite the lack of a story and complex gameplay, Digimon Heroes is an enjoyable game. The simple battle system and card matching reminded me of similar games that I have been addicted to for a short while on my phone. There is a decent amount of longevity to the game outside of the campaign, too. With regular special events, you’ll always have something to come back to.
Digimon Heroes makes up for its lack of deep strategy with plenty of different features to keep you entertained whilst you wait for your energy to replenish.
There are several ways of obtaining new Digimon. The first is to spend Digicoins (premium currency) to crack open some Digimon eggs. With plenty of rare Digimon to find, this can become quite expensive! And it’s definitely addictive, like collecting Pokémon is. Thankfully, the game steps in by awarding you small amounts of Digicoins now and again to ensure that it remains a free-to-play title. I never once felt that there was a paywall and I managed to play just fine on the FTP model.
You can earn special tickets which allow you to open different quality eggs that guarantee a minimum rarity of Digimon. You can also acquire these tickets by spending real money on topping up your Digicoins – so these are an incentive to spend some money if you wanted to.
Special side events also offer rewards that can bolster your Digimon collection even faster, but these are much harder than the basic campaign. Make sure you’ve got some decent playtime in before you try to tackle these. Their rewards are well worth the time investment, though!
The upgrading of your Digimon comes in two parts. Firstly, you have the Digifuse option where you choose a Digimon you wish to level and then select others to sacrifice to award EXP to it. You can sacrifice up to five at a time and there are EXP bonuses to be had when you sacrifice those of the same color. You will need to spend MBits (soft currency) to Digifuse your Digimon, but they come easily enough from the main campaign.
The second route to upgrading is via the Digivolve. You choose a Digimon to Digivovle and then offer up specific leveled-up Digimon and upgrade components to create a brand new Digimon. All of the components are lost in this upgrade, but the trade-off is a much more powerful Digimon. You won’t be able to perform this upgrade straight away and will need to spend the time acquiring the upgrade components needed as well as Digifusing other Digimon so that they meet the level requirements necessary to Digivolve another.
There is a robust and useful friend system at play in Digimon Heroes too. At the start of a battle you can choose a partner to help you. What you get is the leader from another player to fight with your team to make 6 participating Digimon per battle, a significant boost. You will then be able to befriend them after the battle and earn some FP (Friend Points), which can also be spent on acquiring new Digimon.
DECKBUILDING AND STRATEGY
Digimon Heroes‘ team creation is simple enough. You can swap your Digimon in and out very quickly and have an option to filter your current collection using different criteria. It does make sense to opt for a higher-attacking team as you begin your campaign through the missions, though. You can opt for alternative strategies later, especially as a lot of the higher rarity Digimon come with some excellent effects that you’ll want to take advantage of.
Because you need to match the cards’ colors, you will want to do so in a way that will create further chains. You may not always get the opportunity to do so, but you can set it up for the next turn by selecting three cards that do not match. This will still perform a weak attack, so it’s not a complete waste and can improve your attack power in the following turn.
There are three ways to have your Digimon perform a critical attack. The first is to use 3 wild cards that will have all of your Digimon attack that turn. Any subsequent matches will be super-powered, and it’s a great way to take down a boss quickly.
The second and third methods involve the numbers on the cards. Matching 3 of the same number or selecting them in numerical sequence (i.e. 3, 4, and 5) will also trigger a critical strike. You can even use this method with the brown recovery cards for a much more efficient heal.
Even if you lose a battle, all you have really lost is some energy. You may want to think about leveling up a little more by replaying completed missions and acquiring some of the random drops to Digifuse or Digivolve your current line-up.
Digimon Heroes is going to mainly appeal to the younger gamers through its bright colors and cartoon styling, or those who used to be fans of the franchise and want to indulge in a bit of nostalgia.
The interface is very easy to use with all of the main navigation menus located at the bottom of the screen. There is plenty to do between fights, with lots of ways to enhance your team of Digimon. The only real issue is that once you have completed all the campaign missions, you will only be left with the special events. Sure, you can replay completed missions, but you will have already leveled far beyond their requirements.
With no competitive or PvP play available, you have to wonder why there is a need for micro transactions at all. Who exactly are you competing against and why is it necessary to purchase Digimon if you’ll eventually gain the rarer ones later on?
If you want to feel some sense of nostalgia for the Digimon series of your childhood, or if you’ve got some kids that you need to keep quiet for a while, then you should give it a go. The casual card battle games do well on family trips because they are easy to pick-up and play, and just as easy to put down when needed.
Simply put – you can’t go wrong with this free-to-play title that will entertain you for a short while, if nothing else, and sometimes that’s what a new game can be good for, right?
Now I have that theme song in my head… “Digimon, Digital Monsters…”
For more screenshots, click here.
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