Hero: 108 Online Preview

Posted Wed, Mar 24, 2010 by Ethec

Based in Taiwan, Gamania is a developer and publisher that boasts over 1,300 employees with a youthful average age of 30. Despite its gargantuan size, Gamania retains a personal touch: it's the only MMORPG company that we know of that provides walk-in customer service.

Hero:108 Online is based on one of the freshest concepts airing on Cartoon Network.

Gamania's latest project is Hero: 108 Online, a co-venture with Cartoon Network and French animation company Moonscoop. Hero: 108 Online is based on a colorful character-filled cartoon series of the same name that just began airing on Cartoon Network in the United States at the beginning of March. Since the series was done entirely in Flash, Gamania was able to use assets directly from the series to create what Project Director Kevin Crawford called "a seamless experience." Crawford also hinted at possible tie-ins to the show, and "multi-platform" crossovers is child's play given the game's free-to-play price tag and microtransaction-driven "premium store."

In my thirty minutes with the game concept, it was clear that Moonscoop had made good use of their creativity in designing the cartoon's characters. The archvillain, High Roller, has turned the animals against the people of the Hidden Lands, and it's up to the players to restore relations with the different animal kingdoms. For the lore attuned, Crawford related that the series is loosely based on the 13th century Chinese novel The Water Margin.

And while players are limited to the characters portrayed in the two squads featured in the series, given the kinds of characters and the rampant customization options available to players, players will probably find this limiation a luxury. Mighty Ray, for example, is a tank whose powerful DPS abilities are fueled by bananas. The problem: he absolutely hates bananas; they make him gag. Mystique Sonya is all warrior and "all girl". In the series, any character who tells her "I love you" three times turns into her pet- insert couples joke here. The character I chose in the hands-on gameplay video on page 2, Mr. No Hands, is a support healer and, in the series, the nominal leader of the first squad. Crawford noted that the character does have hands, but keeps them hidden for a reason that players will have to discover for themselves.

Screenshots from Hero: 108 Online.

Combat was fast-paced and enjoyable, but perhaps the most innovative feature of Hero: 108 Online combat is its mouse-free design. While clicks are necessary for NPC interaction, combat is all about the keystrokes. The standard WASD movement was in place, and while the hotbar uses the number keys like most any other MMORPG, you can also highlight a hotbar slot with the U and O keys and use the J, K, and L keys to activate your abilities and default attacks. No targeting involved, you damage, debuff, heal, or empower what you're facing. The upshot is you can fire off abilities without taking your fingers off the movement keys, and it makes for very smooth gameplay.


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