The Badman series of games may be one of the least known in the videogame world, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a fine series. Starting with ‘What Did I Do To Deserves This My Lord’ and its direct sequel, it was soon followed up by the excellent No Heroes Allowed. If you haven’t played these, then stop reading and go play them. All three can be found on the PSN store and are fully compatible with the Vita.
NHA: No Puzzles Either! has all the same humour associated with the original games, with you helping the bad guy rather than the heroes (hence the title and the series theme) but moves to a F2P and Match Three puzzle mechanic…Hold on, come back! Don’t let F2P scare you off just yet.
Before getting into the F2P mechanics of the game, let’s explore the game itself. What you have here is a game that uses a nice mix of Match Three and RPG elements to create a very well crafted and engaging experience. You essentially need to stop a series of heroes from reaching your dark lord, by matching the blocks to unleash monsters, who will in turn battle the heroes to the death. The more matches you make, the more monsters are unleashed, the quicker you kill those pesky heroes.
Every level you pass allows you to capture heroes and use them as you see fit. You can either put them to work in your mine so they can find loot and new monsters types, or use them to mix with existing monsters to level them up so they become more and more powerful, to the point of evolving them to new even more powerful types.
That is the basics of it, a really simple game to understand and to play. The Match Three works really well and by getting combos, you will see huge numbers of monsters attack the heroes as they try to make their way to your Dark Lord. Some of the earlier levels are easily beaten, but as you progress you see the need for the RPG style upgrades, as some heroes become extremely difficult to take down.
The core game is simply outstanding and very, very addictive, you could easily spend hours upon hours playing, upgrading, evolving and completely forget about everything going on in the real world around you.
Yet it has the Free to Play moniker attached to it, something that wasn’t part of the previous three titles. It is fair to say that F2P doesn’t exactly have the best of reputations, especially after the debacle that was the re-make(?) of Dungeon Keeper from EA, which was sickening in its approach.
Here though you have F2P done right. The game is free and can be played in its entirety for free and yes there are micro-transactions that allow you to buy various boosts and such. You see, you can pretty much only have three plays every 24 hours, with new lives unlocked around every seven hours, which does restrict the amount of time you can play the main part of thegame at any one time. This can become rather frustrating as you get to later levels and find you need several attempts at passing them, or even if you do pass them, you will need to improve a C rating, to an A or S rating to unlock extra heroes.
The game even mocks you a bit during the tutorial levels, mentioning the various restrictions in place and how you can bypass these using COLD HARD CASH!!! Initially this may seem to be EA levels of extortion, but here is the thing. You ‘could’ buy the 69p-99p boosts, or for £7.99 you can just unlock the whole game. Doing this instantly removes the restrictions on how many times a day you can play, or how many heroes you can have working for you in the mine.
And do you know what? £7.99 for a game of this quality is a pure bargain and within 48 hours of first playing, you will be more than happy to hand over your money. The developers have essentially said “We are that confident that you will like our game, that we are happy to offer it for free, but know you’ll pay up”
This is what F2P should be. It should be a system where instead of a demo where you can only get so far, you can finish it for free, with the right amount and right type of restrictions in place. Such as here, where it limits the amount of time you can play per day for free. This is better than a pure demo, as you can still earn trophies and even finish the game, but should you like what you are playing you get the full experience when you pay up.
But it doesn’t try and make you pay a ridiculous price for the pleasure either. It isn’t trying to find the ‘whales’ who will spend hundreds of pounds over the true value of the game, just because they have no self control. They want you to spend your money, they want to earn a profit and they want the game to sell and the approach taken here is one of the best examples we have seen.
At first we had issues with the smaller boost packs, but again it makes sense. It is aimed at those who don’t feel the need to pay full price, those who are happy to play three times every 24 hours, but may need that extra little boost from time to time. It isn’t a game designed around paying to win and eventually if you feel you are going to pay 69p more than once or twice, it makes sense to spend the £7.99 for the full unlock. It is clever from a business point of view, but most importantly it isn’t insulting to the people who matter most…the consumer.
NHA: No Puzzles Either! is perfect handheld fodder, with levels lasting between 30 seconds to 5 minutes as a rule, making it a great title to turn to when you have a small window to play, but can also be enjoyed for much longer periods. It retains all the humour of the previous titles and is rammed full of charm.
A game that has really come out to little or no fanfare, is one of the best puzzle games to hit the Vita and in fact sits alongside Treasures Of Montezuma Blitz as the best of its type on the system (itself another F2P title). Pick this up now and see for yourself just how good it is and then spend your COLD HARD CASH to unlock the full game. Just make sure you get the previous titles too.