He-Man: The Most Powerful Game In The Universe (universal) by Chillingo is a side-scrolling beat ‘em up packed to the brim with characters from the classic animated series He-Man. With lots of characters and vintage He-Man personality, it’s a solid entry for the franchise moving into a new generation of cartoon lovers and gamers.
As usual, Skeletor is on the loose, causing mayhem and trying to unleash the secrets of Castle Grayskull. But Skeletor, Beast Man, and all the other baddies waiting in the game’s 27 levels don’t have the moniker of Most Power Man In The Universe for a reason: they aren’t He-Man, and don’t have the wide array of unlockable attacks and abilities at his disposal to defeat the game’s seven bosses and countless amount of underling enemies.
To do so, there will need to be some patience in mastering the controls. Moving by touching and dragging the bottom left corner of the screen is easy enough, but the varied swipes and taps required for the different movements and attacks can be an inexact science at times, especially when trying to rack up combos against a large group of enemies, a key element in attaining high scores on each level. Jumping should be easier than pulling off an advanced attack – and at times, that’s not the case in He-Man, which can lead to the occasional frustration.
Even though there are destructible environments and a rewarding scoring system, He-Man‘s gameplay can feel a little generic at times. Each level is filled with the same jump and slash style, without any real ingenuity in way of level design to encourage some kind of strategic approach. Outside of a couple obvious set-ups to take out enemies with environmental objects, there isn’t a lot of depth to the gameplay outside of ‘jump and swing swords fast’.
Where the game sometimes lacks in gameplay diversity, the audio/visual experience picks up the slack. Not only is the game full of crisp, smooth cartoon animation, but features some authentic-sounding voiceovers for both He-Man and the slew of bad guys he’s trying to defeat. It shows the care of maintaining the character and personality of the Saturday morning cartoon through nostalgic details, and gives He-Man an atmosphere most games lose in the conceptual stages.
He-Man doesn’t necessarily break any new ground for its genre, but the ability to finally hear the phrase “I HAVE THE POWER!!!!” in a video game is well worth the small price of admission for fans of the cartoon, and those who enjoy a good brawler.