Guest Review: Hebereke/U-four-ia “The Saga”
I put “Saga” in quotations because this is the only real game in this series, the rest are spin off’s rather than actual sequels.
Hebereke, as it was called in Japan, was released for the NES by Sunsoft in 1991. It was rebranded U-four-ia for its 1992 release in Europe and the United States. By the time this game was released, the NES had lived most of its life and people were too preoccupied by the SNES to care much about NES games anymore. Kind of sad.
But anyway, I want to talk about the game itself. Let’s play a little:
This is going to be a long review.
To start, it’s a NES game with a Metroidvania style…except twice as cute and colorful. You start play as a Penguin/Snowman and the goal is to find you’re lost friends while attempting to survive (there are plot elements in the game, but at the end, all that matters is finding your friends). Along with finding your friends, you will also encounter many items to collect in this huge world. Just take this piece of advice if you want to survive:
Be sure and press down when you jump on enemies:
It took me like 20 minutes of dying before I discovered that I had to press down in order to crush the enemies! What a weird mechanic for a game. In most games when you jump on an enemy, especially when you have no weapons or other way of attack, they die. It’s a well known game mechanic. So why in the ninth level of HELL do you have to press down in order to kill them? That’s probably the worst part of the entire game.
The game is pretty linear at the beginning, with an arrow pointing to where you have to go if you end up going in the wrong direction. It makes sense because it acts as a handicap to help you find your friends. Friends that apparently have Amnesia because when you find them, they force you to throw rocks at them until their life bar hits zero. Some gratitude.
You start the game as Hebe/Bop-Louie:
He is a blue and white penguin/snowman that can run on regular surfaces and jump very well. His has the ability to do a head smash that separates his body from his head, which is his weapon, per say. He is also the only character who can climb walls when you obtain a certain in-game item. I don’t understand why they changed the character design between the Japanese and American versions. Maybe the Japenese developers were drunk when they designed this game. What was the point?
An orange cat/lizard that can walk on ice and swim (weird). Her/his (she can change genders) weapon is an ice breath that freezes the enemy, which you can then use as a platform. I guess that they changed the design of this character because cats don’t usually swim. And also, this characters name is pretty inconsistent in the game. Sometimes it appears as “Freon-Leon” and sometimes as “Freon-Leeon”, but this is a NES game after all so we can forgive them for bad grammar.
A white and pink Ghost (or at least I hope that he is a ghost) that can slowly drift to the ground. This technique can be quite useful for long jumps. His weapon is a hammer that he uses to hit himself on the head and pop his eyeballs out to kill the enemies on the screen. His name is ok, not a really big change between the two versions, although it doesn’t have the same meaning. To be fair though, Shades sounds better because it is shorter. Fewer syllables means more awesomeness.
A green frog that can walk under water. His weapon is an explosive egg that can be used to destroy bricks which helps you to explore the game. I don’t get it though, he is the guy with the least Japanese name of all the crew and they call him Gil. Am I playing Final Fantasy again? Come on, guys can have girls names too! It’s not a big deal if you call yourself Susan and you are a skinny big head evil genius (if you don’t know who I’m talking about then I guess that I’m too old).
Once you get all of your friends, it’s time to explore this really big world. There’s a lot of Items that you will probably miss, lots of new roads to explore with new puzzles to solve and new bosses to fight.
And once you collect all the keys after beating all the bosses, it’s time for the final battle:
Things that make the game fun include: clever environments, music that is pleasant, characters that have their own charm because they all move and act differently, bosses that aren’t frustrating, and puzzles that are not too difficult.
The game overall isn’t too hard either because once you get the pattern of the enemies down and the ways in which to solve the puzzles figured out, you can enjoy it and not worry about being annoyed.
The only downfalls (excluding the really big one I mentioned earlier) are:
1-You have to hold down the button of your weapon until it’s charged in order to use it, and that’s extremely annoying in the section where you have to destroy bricks with Jennifer.
The only justification I can see is the armored boss. He’s only weak to the Hebe head-butt, and the funny part is that once you take off his armor, he just gives up and does nothing while you beat him. Which makes holding the button down not a big deal.
2-The Password System. Even though the game was released 5 years after The Legend of Zelda, they use a password system! I guess the developer didn’t have much money. But the problem is that every time you die you will appear in the beginning of the world and with the measly, starter life bar. There are also no rooms to refill your health, just potions that you can find that regenerate sometimes.
3-It’s annoying to change characters all the time, but if you play Megaman, it won’t be a big deal.
Those are the sad parts of the game in a nutshell.
Overall though, if you like games like Metroid, with a touch of Super Mario and Kirby then Hebereke/U-four-ia is the kind of game that you should really enjoy.
The author David Garnica resides in Argentina. He is a modern and retro gamer as well as a fiction writer. David also designs his own concepts for games in painstaking detail. You can follow him on Twitter @SlayerQuest or check out his Spanish language blog here: Slayer-Quest (just use Google Translate if you don’t speak Spanish :P).