Preview: Heroes of Ruin aims for 3DS staying power

July 10, 2011

The 3DS has had a weak launch period, and with a robust fall lineup that includes a new Super Mario, Kid Icarus and Mario Kart, that trend’s about to change. What isn’t about to change, though, is the relative dearth of quality third-party games on Nintendo’s handheld. Heroes of Ruin, developed by n-Space and published by Square Enix, is an exception, and it’s because n-Space is doing what it always does: providing a solid experience in a genre weak on the system.

While previous n-Space outings have largely been shooters, Heroes of Ruin instead tackles the hack-and-slash RPG genre. With procedurally-generated maps and ambitious online functionality, it’s almost as if they’re taking on Monster Hunter more so than the dungeon-crawling fare we typically see.

“Customization in this game is really strong,” said Square Enix’s Luke Willoughby. “There are over 80,000 different items.”

From basic appearance to how attacks function, there’s definitely a focus on making your character your own. Each of the game’s classes has multiple special moves to choose from, and each move can be upgraded in different ways. All the moves and items are placed on buttons when possible, making for a more action-oriented experience. Items are nestled onto the D-pad, providing the kind of inventory access you don’t normally see on handhelds.

Rather than a dark, dismal world like we’ve been stuck with lately in the genre, Heroes of Ruin opts for a lush, colorful world, with animal-like characters and varied environments to explore. These worlds aren’t even pre-created; as you walk around, the paths are being generated dynamically around you. (We wouldn’t mind a few hand-designed campaign levels, but that doesn’t appear to be part of n-Space’s plans.)

The developers also want to take advantage of other 3DS features, using StreetPass to exchange items and view other adventurers, creating a framework called the Trader’s Network. This function automatically trades items your character can’t use for items other players can’t use. There will also be daily new content over SpotPass, including challenges and items. Clearly, though, the focus is on making the best core online gameplay.

“It’s going to become the 3DS multiplayer co-op game,” said Willoughby.

Heroes of Ruin is scheduled for an early 2012 release.