Hero’s Crossing gets you thinking about what goes on behind the scenes of your favorite video games. What do the shop owners do when you’re not around? How do they get all that inventory? Why do they always seem to have just what I need? The game does a great job of giving you a fresh perspective on the video game world, but a few shortcomings might keep it on the shelf for a few gamers.
Taking Care of Business
In Hero’s Crossing, you’ll be taking on the role of a video game world entrepreneur, trying to set up shops and production lines to meet the needs of the adventurers that pass through your town. You’ll be working to make your system run as smoothly as possible while also trying to thwart your opponents’ attempts at making progress.
The game has a bit of a complex setup, but much of this occurs in order to keep the game balanced as it progresses. Each player will be building their own little set of starter shops. Players draw a set of tiles, select one, and pass the rest on to an adjacent player. This continues until everyone has a starting set of four tiles each arranged to make a little town.
Each round, players will take two actions that are matched up on that round’s action card. There are eight different actions that can be taken. Players might produce, move, or sell their goods. They might try to clog up the production lines of one of their opponents with a spy, or maybe remove a spy that was played against them on a previous turn.
Players earn victory points by selling goods to visiting heroes. Heroes generally want multiple items, and different players can earn points off of the same traveler. However, whoever manages to sell a hero the last item they need earns that hero’s card, which will give them more victory points at the end of the game. They also provide players with special skills that they can utilize during the game.
As players in the game start to meet the needs of heroes, newer, higher level adventurers will become available. These adventurers will be worth more victory points. Along with better heroes, you’ll see better shops and locations. Players can add these to their cities to produce more efficiently and to sell at higher prices.
Players continue to sell items until the last hero card is revealed, at which point two more rounds are played. At the end of the game, the player with the most victory points wins!
A Retro Vibe
The first thing that catches your eye with Hero’s Crossing is its retro art style. The waves of nostalgia will rush over you, and you’ll have to restrain yourself from just throwing the game aside and popping in an old NES copy of Zelda. Even cooler, the artwork upgrades as the levels increase. You’ll see the shops change from an 8-bit style at Level 1 to a 32-bit style at Level 3.
However, while the character and building models are well-done, there is a bit of a sizing issue with many of the components. The text on the character cards, for instance, is very hard to read. The building tiles also have some font size issues. Throughout the game, we would have to stand up and put our faces just a few inches away from something that was just laid out on the table in order to know what it did.
I Love This Town
I am a fan of the way in which the layout of a town is used as a mechanic. While there are certainly games in which the particular placement of tiles earns you points, I don’t believe I’ve seen one where you are setting up a system by the placement. You have to be sure that you have the Apothecary near the Potion Shop so that the supplies can be moved for selling. This approach forces players to think very carefully about each tile placement and its impact on future tiles.
However, I feel that the game is a bit unforgiving when it comes to tile placement. One component I haven’t mentioned is the placement die which limits where you can add new tiles each round. Because of this extra bit of random chance, you will occasionally have several turns worth of work go up in smoke. You may have to put shop tiles far away from manufacturing tiles, essentially rendering them useless. There also doesn’t seem to be a mechanic by which buildings can be destroyed, and you’re only able to add one version of each building. Thus, if you make a mistake, you’re stuck with it for the rest of the game.
A Few Bugs, But Still Playable
I feel that Hero’s Crossing is a good game that works despite a few flaws. The basic concept of the game – creating a shop for adventurers – is not as original as it once was, but it’s still well-executed here. I appreciate the effort that has been put into the overall design, and while it could have been improved, I think it’s serviceable.
While this game is not for everyone, I believe there is certainly an audience for it. Like me, for example. I grew up in the 8- and 16-bit video game eras and have since moved away from video games to board games, but I still remember those days around the NES, SNES, and Sega Genesis fondly. With a game like this, I and a few friends like me can have a wonderfully nostalgic afternoon.
And we won’t have to blow on any cartridges to make it work.
You can pick up a copy of Hero’s Crossing on the games website.
- Fun retro art style
- A unique tile placement mechanic
- The text can be hard to read
- It’s a little unforgiving if you make mistakes
Brian Sowers provided us with a retail copy of Hero’s Crossing. This in no way influenced our opinion of the game.