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Nekketsu Tairiku: Burning Heroes (SNES) artwork

Nekketsu Tairiku: Burning Heroes (SNES) review

"Anger was the ink used in writing this review."

When I finally finished the last of the eight scenarios in Nekketsu Tairiku: Burning Heroes, I knew something memorable had just happened. I'd encountered what might very well be the worst RPG I've ever played, and yet still I saw the damn thing through to the end, despite being let down, annoyed and even enraged more often than is psychologically healthy. If that isn't an invitation to read further, I don't know what is!

On the surface, Burning Heroes doesn't look so bad. I enjoyed the music, and the background graphics for the battles were nice by Super Famicom standards. I was also intrigued by the availability of the eight separate scenarios. When you begin playing the game, you'll notice that your character walks more quickly than heroes do in most games of this sort, which allows you to easily zip around towns and dungeons. You'll start a character's quest, watch a bit of exposition, run around town to find a few allies and start grinding for equipment in order to brave the first dungeon, with no time wasted along the way. Does all of that sound good so far?

Sadly, this game has two big flaws. Individually, either one of them would sap any enthusiasm I might have. Combined, they left me in one of the lower planes of Hell on a nightly basis, as I choked down an hour or so muddling through the game. I mean, when the first flaw is simply THE BATTLE SYSTEM, you've lost most hope of having any fun, since RPGs are mostly built around fighting monsters.

You control only the main hero in each scenario while the computer tends to the other four. Alas, the computer operates with all the tact and finesse of a bull in a china shop. At least the developers didn't screw up the fighter/thief characters, which can only attack and possess no special moves in Burning Heroes. The healer is a different story, though. First, while healers usually move quickly to aid a seriously wounded ally, every once in a while, they choose instead to attack. Secondly, as far as hit point recovery goes, they have two spells. One regenerates 150 HP for a single person and the other restores 250 to all party members. Healers who learn the second of those skills essentially forget that the first one exists. It doesn't matter if only one person is in any sort of trouble; everyone gets healed at the cost of a sizable chunk of magic. Mages are even worse. They tend to spam magic on a turn-by-turn basis regardless of the situation, generally going for their newest (and most expensive) skill.

Each of your eight characters fall within one of the classes noted above. The scenario where you control a healer is the easiest of the eight, as you'll have full control over keeping everyone alive and won't be leaving anything up to chance. Mages aren't that bad, either. If you're controlling one, you won't need to enlist another, so you won't have to deal with some idiot wasting his or her magic on weak enemies. Playing with a fighter character is rather boring, though, as you'll mainly be tapping the attack button once and then watching everyone take a turn. Making this worse, characters and monsters have horribly inconsistent accuracy with their attacks. In one battle, you'll run through your opponents quickly. Get sent to another fight with the same monsters, though, and you'll watch in disbelief as everyone whiffs repeatedly, causing the encounter to last much longer than expected.

After a while of this, regardless of your hero's class, you'll learn to hate battles. Which means you'll be full of hate, as this game truly loves its random encounters. Much like many 8- and 16-bit RPGs, the rate is wildly inconsistent. You'll go through a couple rooms without seeing anything hostile and then seemingly get forced into battle nearly every step after that. In a way, the game's fast walking speed becomes a curse, as you'll win a fight, cross a couple tiles in less than a second and then enter another battle before you've even remembered where you're headed.

So, now I've established this game is horribly flawed at its most fundamental level. What could add to the misery in such a noteworthy manner that I feel it's an equally big blunder by the developers at J-Force? Simply put, this game was built on a foundation of REPETITION. Keep your eyes glued -- this is going to get good.

First, as I said, there are eight scenarios. They can be divided into four groups of two stories. After you beat the first in a group, the second one unlocks. And that second person will play through the exact same dungeons that the first one experienced. Each scenario is divided into three chapters, with three dungeons in the first, five in the second and three more in the final. By my count, that means once you clear everything with a set of characters, you will have gone through the same 11 dungeons twice.

Next, you move on to the second set of characters. You'll be (relatively) happy at first, since you finally get a new first chapter with two new dungeons. But then you'll get sent to the same dungeon that you encountered at the end of the first chapter in the first set. Eventually, you realize that with the exception of the first dungeon of the final chapter, you're simply covering the exact same ground you walked twice before. The third and fourth sets give you a bunch of new second-chapter dungeons, but you have to clear those four times, as well.

By the time you've slogged through the entire game, you'll have conquered four separate dungeons in all eight scenarios and many, many more in four of the eight. I was thoroughly sick of virtually every location in this game by the time I reached its conclusion. With the exception of one dungeon (which, of course, is only used twice), there really aren't any puzzles to solve. You're just wandering through mazes to collect treasure and advance the story, often by fighting a boss.

So there you have it: a game that has you repeat the same dull dungeons time and time again, all while regularly facing battles in which you are teamed up with brain-damaged adventurers who are as likely to fail utterly as they are to provide any legitimate assistance. I probably could have written this review after clearing half the eight scenarios, but I'd read that there was a special ending in store for players who took the time to complete everything. With that in mind, I soldiered on for hour after hour, each more tedious than the last, seeking that elusive and mysterious reward. Finally, I reached the moment I had worked so hard to reach. Excitement and anticipation filled my eyes because, after all, there had to be a suitable payoff for enduring this much misery. And then, in front of my eyes appeared…

…an anime-style drawing of all eight heroes standing together. That was it. Somehow, the letdown seemed appropriate. I only wish I didn't feel so hollow inside.


overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (May 06, 2015)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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