East meets West.
Once upon a time, there was a land where humans and animals lived in peace and tranquility... until this one douchebag named HighRoller came along. He was such a huge pain in the ass that he got himself banished from the Eastern Kingdom and went away to the Hidden Land. One day while festering in his loathing for humanity, he was hit by lightning and gained the ability to talk with animals and became the most evil Dr. Doolittle since Eddie Murphy.
[image1]Now he's convinced all the animals in the kingdom that the humans are the real jerks and should be eradicated from the face of the planet. It's up to you as a member of 1st or 2nd squad to repel the ensuing animal invasion and restore peace to the land. You'll crush insects, bop bunnies, and yes, much to mine and Hudak's dismay, beat up on some penguins to save the world.
Based off the upcoming Cartoon Network series of the same name, Hero: 108 is looking to appeal to the family-friendly MMO market, so if you're a hardcore MMO player with an unhealthy infatuation with dark elf priestesses or if you've ever had to go door to door and inform your neighbors that you just moved in (and not because you're being friendly) this is probably not the game for you. This is more for kids looking for something to do in between watching episodes of Hero: 108 The Animated Series and reading books about shiny, fem-boy vampires.
Every mission in the game is viewable from the very beginning and shows you what to accomplish in order to progress your quest paths. The game does hold your hand and walk you through to a point, but much of it is optional for those looking for more of a challenge. Combat is easy to manage, consisting of a standard beat-down button and several special abilities assigned to hotkeys in classic WoW style with the added feature of a dash button. As you level up, you'll gain new abilities along with a higher combo cap for your standard attack.
[image2]Each of the eight playable characters has their own unique fighting style and set of skills. There's the Mighty Ray with his uncanny ability to shoot lightning from his eyes after eating a banana, or the curiously odd Mr. Nohands, who actually has hands but they're bound because he'll uncontrollably tickle himself if set loose, and can somehow inexplicably throw darts and heal party members. As expected, making a team is all about the right balance of characters.
The thing that really stuck out about the game, though, was the art direction. Everything has that "animé meets American graffiti in the early 90s" vibe to it. Graphically, everything is cel-shaded with a vibrant and eclectic color wheel. This sort of "East meets West" fusion gives Hero: 108 an aesthetic that separates itself visually apart from the crowd of dull would-be Maple Story clones and offers something compelling and fun to play.
Hero: 108 is Gamania's first game ever developed with the Western market specifically in mind and with a cartoon and what I can only assume will be a slew of toys that usually follows this kind of thing; they may just have a shot at establishing themselves. Public closed beta begins in May through to open beta in June with a release date expected to be set soon after. In the meantime, check your local listings if you want to catch an episode of the cartoon.