A Simple and Addicting Sleeper Hit –
With a unique twist on tower defense, a charming 8-bit graphical style, and very simple but yet addicting gameplay, Witch & Hero fits under the “sleeper hit” category – something that is of higher quality but gets overlooked.
Interestingly, the plot actually ties directly into the gameplay. A king put a bounty on Medusa, the snake queen that turns victims to stone. Hero and his buddy Witch sign up for the job but the Medusa turns Witch into stone and leaves Hero wounded. Instead of just being mercenaries, it is now personal as Hero needs to defeat Medusa in order to restore Witch. Because of this, petrified Witch is placed in the middle of a stationary single screen and monsters appear at all angles homing in on her. It is Hero’s job to defend the stationary Witch until all monsters have been defeated which allows him to travel to the next level, one step closer to reaching Medusa and releasing the curse.
Gameplay couldn’t be simpler as only the Circlepad is used. In order to stop the ruthless attack of incoming enemies, Hero defends the frozen Witch by simply bumping into them. After enough bumps, the fallen enemies will leave behind gold, experience points, and blood. These simple item drops give the game its addicting quality and RPG elements. Gold can be spent to buy character upgrades like a more powerful attack, higher defense, and faster movement. Just like any RPG, experience points yield increased levels which increase stats. And once enough blood has been collected, it can be dropped off on the Witch statue which allows Witch to temporarily wake up and perform a powerful magic attack to help Hero with the relentless onslaught. Even though grinding previously beaten levels is required to progress at certain points during the game, the overall gameplay is addictive, balanced, and highly entertaining.
Preventing the game from being mindless, there is actually a fair amount of strategy when it comes to attacking, aka bumping, into the enemy. The kicker is each attack hurts the enemy but it also hurts Hero; yes, dying is inevitable and was purposely designed. Once Hero takes enough damage, he will faint and require several seconds of down time before he automatically is revived. This fainting time creates anxiety because you can only watch as the enemies creep in closer to the defenseless Witch. Strategy comes into play because attacking enemies from behind results in a more powerful attack with less damage taken. However, attacking from behind often means taking a longer route which takes more time, time you might not have especially if you do not purchase speed upgrades. Some enemies are also more susceptible to Hero’s attacks versus Witch’s magic. For example, one stage takes place on a shoreline with the shore side releasing fast moving sharks while the land side generates slower moving scorpions. Sharks can easily fall within one or two bumps and only take away a small amount of health. However, scorpions take several bumps and drastically take away precious health points but fall easier to Witch’s magic. Therefore, the player must essentially defeat the sharks, take their blood, then use that blood to release Witch’s magic to defeat the scorpions. For a game that is so simple there is actually a ton of depth to the gameplay even thought it might not be apparently at first. Again, it is highly addicting and well balanced. Even bumping into enemies has its own strategy because it is beneficial to bounce against the edge of the wall to prevent wild pinball-like bumper jumps of Hero which can take up a much needed second or two. This bouncing effect really only becomes tedious, frustrating, and unfair during the final boss fight.
Like an old school NES game, the entire game is composed is simplified 8-bit graphics. In fact, the graphics and gameplay are so simplified there are not even attack animations, fancy particle effects, and even detailed environments. But this is what gives the game its humor and charm. It is basic and it is supposed to be. Also, what else can you expect from a game that is only a few bucks on the eShop?
Witch & Hero is a surprisingly addicting downloadable title that can easily be overlooked when browsing the eShop. In fact, one of the game’s flaws actually comes from the streamable eShop trailer as it only tells the story of Witch and Hero without showing any gameplay. Further, there is no tutorial or hint indicators whatsoever which means clueless players, like myself when I first started, will have some difficulty just understanding how the game works. But after about 10 minutes, you will understand that it is necessary to die, the Witch is helpful and not just a mindless escort mission, and growing stronger with each kill is highly entertaining. Once the easy learning curve is mastered, Witch & Hero is a great way to waste a few bucks on the eShop. Sure, the game can be finished just a few hours but those few hours will be filled with an enjoyable gaming experience.
*Note: If you don’t want to take my word for it, download the free demo of Witch & Hero from the eShop. Unfortunately, the demo claims that save data will transfer over to the full version but this was not the case in my experience. I even tinkered with my SD card in hopes of continuing from my demo ending point but ultimately had to start all over with the full version.
Reminds Me Of: Plants Vs Zombies
Also Check Out: Dragon Warrior I
Wait For It: Defense Grid 2
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com