Cover art for Bionicle Heroes
Bionicle Heroes is a 3D third person shooter video game. The game was released in November 2006 by Traveller's Tales on PlayStation 2, Xbox 360, Nintendo GameCube, Microsoft Windows and by Amaze Entertainment on Game Boy Advance, and Nintendo DS, a Nintendo Wii version was later released in April 2007. The game stars Bionicle's 2006 feature characters, the Toa Inika and the Piraka. However, the game also features enemies from previous years. Players must destroy enemies, solve puzzles in order to progress further, and throughout the game, maximize their individual special powers and gain better and deadlier weapons.
While the game is loosely based on the first part of the Bionicle Legends story arc; it is non-canonical and features several characters from previous arcs in the franchise (some of which were killed off prior to the 2006 story arc).
The Nintendo DS version of Bionicle Heroes is in the first-person perspective instead of third-person, and is the first LEGO game to be rated T for Teen. The Game Boy Advance version is also vastly different, having a top-down perspective instead of over the character's shoulder.
Players control an anonymous hero out to stop the evil Piraka, who have used the power of the Mask of Life to transform the wildlife of the island of Voya Nui into aggressive, evil creatures. The hero is able to wear the masks of the Toa Inika in order to take on their appearances and powers. Players can switch between any collected masks at will, but if they run out of health the current mask is lost and a new one must be found before the character can become that Toa again. Collecting a mask also restores health, even if it is one the character already has.
During gameplay, players collect Lego pieces with different point values. Collecting enough points fills a meter and activates "Hero Mode", turning the character golden and giving invincibility as well as an offensive boost. After completing a level, points collected can also be used to purchase items and upgrades from the in-game Lego Shop. Players are able to upgrade weapons throughout the game, starting with the Toa Mata's tools before upgrading to the Toa Metru's tools and finally the Toa Inika's tools; armor and special abilities can also be upgraded.
Throughout each level are several Lego constructions, or construction-actions, that can be assembled. Two kinds that must be activated to proceed are normal constructions activated by Toa Hewkii and golden constructions that can be activated by anyone in Hero Mode, though doing so causes Hero Mode to end and more points must be collected before it can be entered again. Also found are character-specific constructions that provide bonuses when activated.
Scattered throughout the levels are several canisters that give bonuses when collected: collecting all of the silver canisters in a level unlocks a common enemy for viewing between levels, while each gold canister found unlocks a collectible item for viewing. Each regular level includes five silver canisters and four gold canisters, and Piraka levels include four gold canisters apiece. Boss enemies-which include the seven Piraka, the six Rahkshi from the 2003 story, and the large set characters Nidhiki, Krekka, Roodaka, Sidorak, Brutaka, and Axonn-are also unlocked for viewing after they have been defeated.
There are 25 levels and 19 bosses in total. In addition to the levels and viewable collectibles, players can also explore a bonus area called Piraka Playground, where the Piraka can be seen walking around after you defeat them in the main levels. Players can purchase additional items for Piraka Playground from the Shop and watch the Piraka use them. There are also 3 bonus levels available for purchase, which are accessed through Piraka Playground.
Nintendo DS version
The Nintendo DS version has 37 levels and 6 bosses. The 37 levels are divided among 7 regions: five levels for each of the six Piraka regions, and seven levels in the final region: "Makuta's Domain". In the last of these seven levels, "Final Showdown", the player must battle all six Piraka.
When the player loses all their health, they do not lose a mask as you would in the console version, but some of the Lego pieces the player has collected. Instead of an in-game Lego Shop, collected Lego pieces are used in conjunction with runes in order to unlock one of 12 bonuses, which can affect gameplay in unique ways. These bonuses can be switched on or off once unlocked. Some bonuses can't be unlocked at the same time. This was the first LEGO game to be rated T for teen. Since all Lego video games were rated E on handheld consoles, this game was rated E10+ on consoles, and PC and rated E on Game Boy Advance.
Game Boy Advance version
The Game boy advance version is presented similar to a top-down run-and-gun shooter. This version's storyline is similar to the DS version. There are 25 levels(four for each realm, and the final level). Each realm contains two regular levels, where the object is to progress to the end, a survival level, where the player must defeat all waves of enemies, and a boss level, where the player must defeat the realm's Piraka. (The final level is a boss level). The Toa in the game go through three stages which are upgraded as masks are collected. The first stage is the Toa Mata, the second being the Toa Nuva, and the third being the Toa Inika. There is no in-game store, instead the game uses Lego pieces as a form of collecting points at the end of the level. The player can also collect symbols that can unlock cheats, which can have either, a silly, or a non-apparent effect, such as a cluck gun (the player's weapons launch chickens) or a sombrero (Each Toa wears a sombrero). This is the only version that contains enemy spawners.
Bionicle Heroes began development in late 2005 and lasted approximately twelve months. It was developed at Traveller's Tales by a crew of 20 to 25 people. The game's story is loosely based on the 2006 storyline, but features multiple characters from previous years, such as the Bohrok (2002–03) and Vahki (2004). Instead of rigidly following any year's storyline, as it could possibly restrict creative freedom, the team decided to create an independent story with as many memorable Bionicle characters present as possible. This proved difficult when balanced against fan expectations. The game engine was built upon the engine used in Lego Star Wars: The Video Game. The team faced several problems during development as they wished to create the highest quality possible. In the event, they pushed the chosen platforms "to their limits" and could not include a multiplayer option or the ability to create custom characters. Voice acting was also not included to allow more space for level designs, with it being limited to the opening and closing cutscenes. Giving players the ability to play as all six Toa Inika from the 2006 storyline put some limitations on design, such as being unable to swim. The story was also made to be very simple. One of the ideas was the player being the "hero" and having access to the Inika's powers, rather than playing as a specific characters. The Nintendo DS version of the game did incorporate multiplayer, while the Game Boy Advance version could not support the over-the-shoulder shooter style of the console version and so settled for a 2D overhead perspective. The GBA port was also developed by a different development team. The game was officially announced in May 2006.
At its release in November 2006, Bionicle Heroes was mostly overshadowed by higher-profile releases; specifically the launches of the PlayStation 3 and Wii consoles later that week. Nearly all reviews noted the similarity to Traveller's Tales' previous Lego Star Wars games - several suggested that Heroes was perhaps too similar, and having two such games released within a couple months of each other was tiresome as Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy had been released the previous September.
The game has received mixed critical reviews. Nintendo Power noted that the game "doesn't feel very LEGO-ish; block-building aspects seldom come into play, and the scenery is only rarely reminiscent of LEGO pieces." GameSpot blamed Hero Mode for making the game repetitive: "By being even remotely selective with how you pick up Lego pieces, you'll be invincible a good two-thirds to three-fourths of the game, which means that nearly every situation before a boss battle is utterly trivialized." Another common point in several reviews was that the game lacked a real story.
Though reviewed less than the console versions, both the Nintendo DS and Game Boy Advance scored quite well in comparison, with reviews around 70 to 80%. The DS version of the game is considered a very competent first-person shooter, with responsive, but not perfect, controls and fast, smooth visuals; several reviews stated that it holds up well to the critically acclaimed Metroid Prime Hunters. However, one major drawback is its lack of online play. The Game Boy Advance version was reviewed only twice, but both reviews agree that the game's nonstop, relentless shooting is shallow though very entertaining; both also praised the game's musical score.
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