Much like the recent "Double Dragon Neon," Chillingo's "He-Man - The Most Powerful Game in the Universe” doesn't bother taking itself too seriously. In fact, there are plenty of times when the characters poke fun at their cheesy animated selves, just because. It adds quite a bit of humor to the touch-controlled platformer, but things aren't perfect in Eternia.
He-Man and Skeletor go way back, and their iOS debut starts off just like any other – He-Man has been lured into a trap by his nefarious rival and now Skeletor is on his way to Castle Grayskull to establish himself as the most powerful man in the universe. As always, He-Man is able to escape Skeletor's feeble attempt at a trap and then the chase is on.
The game features 7 different areas spread across a large map of Eternia. Players start off in the dungeons and eventually make it back to Castle Grayskull hot on the heels of Skeletor. Each area contains 3-5 levels and most of the areas finish with He-Man facing off against one of Skeletor's henchmen – Beast-Man, Hardok, Mer-Man and Trap Jaw have made the roster. Like many mobile games, each level challenges players to collect three stars by killing enemies, collecting crystals and finding “lore” tokens, which unlock special features like concept art and so on.
Chillingo has taken a somewhat unique approach to the control scheme, which has both pros and cons. In terms of movement and attacks, the screen is essentially split in half. The left side is where you control movement, simply sliding your thumb to the right to move forward or the left to move back (this can be tricky when you have enemies on both sides as changing direction cannot be done until He-Man comes to a complete stop). Swinging your sword is done by simply tapping the right side of the screen. As you progress, and earn crystals, you can unlock new abilities like the “Thunder Punch” and “Tornado Spin” which have their own unique swipe pattern. For instance, “Thunder Punch” is activated by swiping to left on the right side of the screen instead of just tapping to swing your sword.
I had the pleasure of playing on an iPad 2 and the game looks great. As you can see from the screenshots, the team behind The Most Powerful Game in the Universe stuck to the classic cartoon-y look and during my time with it I didn't notice a single misstep in character animations or anything else
Overall, gameplay is very smooth (aside from changing direction!), but the enemies are very, very dumb. Players can literally stand still and the baddies will walk right into He-Man's swinging sword. The real challenge comes from the sheer amount of enemies that eventually fill the screen. With some firing projectiles, some running straight for you and others swooping down from above, you'll have a lot to deal with. There are also fireballs and other inanimate objects you'll be dodging as you move through each stage.
In a typical platformer manner, boss fights aim to change things up a bit. Each will hit you with different abilities and challenges. Whether they jump out of sight and try to land on your head or turn into a rocket and fire themselves across the screen, you'll need to figure out the attack patterns if you want to take them out quickly.
While Skeletor's henchmen are spread across Eternia, He-Man's comrades are waiting in the wings. Through use of tokens, which can be purchased using the crystal currency, players can summon Man-at-Arms to swoop in and fire off some ranged attacks when you can't get to a particular enemy or need a hand during a stubborn boss fight. Orko also shows up in a sort of slot game that is very similar to the one in Jetpack Joyride – swipe his crystal ball after you die and you could be revived at the last checkpoint or score a pile of free crystals. There's also the chance that Skeletor will show up here and waste your spin.
It may not actually be The Most Powerful Game in the Universe, but He-Man's first run on iOS is a great trip down memory lane. It's presented in a happy-go-lucky fashion that's well-polished and welcoming to old fans and newcomers alike. Though it may not be much of a challenge to cruise through every level, Game Center achievements and the three star goal will keep you coming back for more. If you're looking for an easy going, hack and slash platformer, the $.99 price tag on "He-Man – The Most Powerful Game in the Universe" shouldn't keep you away. It's available in the App Store right now.