For those in their late twenties/early thirties, memories of Castle Grayskull, Man-At-Arms and bellows of “I have the power” might make He-Man: The Most Powerful Game In The Universe seem an attractive trip down memory lane, but as we’ve discovered time and time again, when it comes to the reappropriation of our past childhood loves, the reality rarely matches whatever naive optimism we hold.
The game is indeed packed with nods to the Eighties toy line and cartoon. Villains such as Skeletor, Trap Jaw and Beast Man all make end-of-level boss appearances, and the Orko casts spells to revive you should you meet a grisly fate. Nevertheless, the game they’re starring in does little to work the nostalgia gland up into anything other than a withered sputter.
Taking the form of a very basic side-scroller with 27 levels, you slide your left thumb across the bottom left of the screen to move, and tap or slide upwards on the right to attack or jump. There’s no great imagination to the levels or the enemies you face; this is, by and large, a button-bashing left-to-right smash-a-thon about as sophisticated as giving your character a double-barrelled name like ‘He-Man’.
You can unlock a variety of extra combat skills between levels using crystals gained by defeating enemies or smashing boxes, but they’re very expensive. The chances of completing the game with all unlocked, and without having actually spent some of your real-life cash on them instead, is very slim indeed. He-Man may only cost 69p – and admittedly, you do get a good run for that – but to get the full experience you’re going to have to shell out a few more pennies.
If you decide to do so, you’ll be wasting your time. Nostalgia can be an intoxicating thing, but in the case of this iPad outing it’s simply not powerful enough to overcome the boredom borne of run-of-the-mill design. Eternia? More like eternally dull.