Min-Hero: Tower of Sages
In real life, if you paint a pig with electric stripes and give it a flame thrower to battle against other pets with, you're asking to have your face blurred out on the evening news. In Toy Chest Games' Pokemon inspired turn-based RPG Min-Hero: Tower of Sages, however, that's just good clean fun. As a new initiate into the Tower of Sages, your goal is to battle your way to the top to prove you're worthy of training even the most powerful creatures... the titans. Each set of floors will grant you pieces of six seals you'll need to win to be the very best, like no one ever was, so grab your freaky leafy snake thinger and your weirdo Vader beetle dude and get cracking.
Move around with [WASD] or the [arrow] keys, and interact with the [spacebar]. Hit the menu button in the bottom-right corner to bring up options to save, check your status, and assign the stars you win to upgrade your pets. When you enter into a minion throw-down with another character, the format is pretty familiar... the team that knocks out all the other's minions is the winner. Minions come in all shapes and sizes, and the elements they and their attacks are based on determine what they're weak or strong against. While the red bar is each minion's health, the blue bar represents their energy, and since each attack uses a certain amount of energy, you need to give careful thought to the attacks you're using, and who you're going up against. Once you've beaten a character, you can just talk to them again to replay the battle for more sweet, sweet experience points.
Of course, as minions battle, they level up and become stronger, and you'll gain skill points you can spend on learning different attacks and abilities from time to time. The first time you get a skill point, the path you place it in for a minion determines what skill tree they'll follow, and each one has its own unique powers. Don't worry, you can reset skill points at any time if you'd like to change. You can spend any cash you earn on gems you can attach to whatever minion you like to increase their stats. And, of course, as the level up, they can evolve into more powerful creatures. After defeating each floor's boss and gaining a piece of a seal, you'll get a key to the hatchery which allows you to pick from rows of eggs to gain a new minion. Since you don't know which creature might be in an egg, make sure to save beforehand if you want to try again.
Min-Hero isn't so much story-lite as it is story-non-existent, with a strictly linear path that means gameplay focuses solely on fighting and strategy. Which, as it happens, are quite solid and enjoyable indeed for a casual little game like this. It's the sort of game Though it would have been nice if the minions had had more depth and story to them, the wide variety and gorgeous overall design of them helps keep you playing to find out what comes next. It really makes you want an expanded version that features some actual adventuring and choice, but thankfully the combat that makes up the meat and potatoes of the game (as well as the dessert and after dinner mint) is up to the task in a way that makes it perfect for the casual gamer looking for something to satisfy that "gotta train 'em all into terrifying war machines" itch.