Bionicle Heroes
| Bionicle Heroes

When it comes to firstperson shooters on the DS, they said it couldn't be done – right up until Nintendo gave us Metroid Prime: Hunters. And now TT Games, the brains behind the LEGO Star Wars games, has upped the ante with Bionicle Heroes.

Smart boys. They've realised their reference material is ideal for this type of game; it doesn't matter if the LEGO Bionicle-based bio-mechanical robots you're shooting look a bit blocky, because that's exactly what they're supposed to look like in the first place.

But where this game really impresses is in terms of the addictive gameplay features that made the LEGO Star Wars series of games so brilliant (the appallingly unfinished DS version aside, that is).

Finest among these is the insistence that you shouldn't be unduly punished if you get killed. In most other games such foolishness will see you sent back to the start of the level to try again. Happily though, as with the LEGO Star Wars games, Bionicle Heroes simply drops you back into the thick of the action without such frustrating strictures. It's a refreshing system.

The second cross-over is the ability to use telekinetic Force-style powers to construct LEGO blocks to help you overcome obstacles. Quite how this fits within the Bionicle universe we're not certain about, but the lovely tinkling sound that accompanies the construction of bridges, lifts and platforms is utterly compelling.

We haven't mentioned the plot yet. This is deliberate on account of it being completely barmy. The general gist is you must explore the island of Voya Nui and defeat the Makuta and the Piraka, evil creatures who have captured the nice Toa and stripped them of their masks.

Got it? It's all a bit silly but the mask conceit lends itself well to an interesting gameplay feature: wearing different Toa masks imbues you with new weapons and abilities.

To find the masks, you'll have to fight your way through the zones – there are six in total. Once collected, the masks can be worn at any time, and powers include the ability to defy gravity, destroy walls to reach secret areas, or endure very high temperatures, as well as gaining access to more powerful weaponry.

The game is beautifully structured – as you acquire more masks, you're encouraged to thoroughly explore and replay zones and levels (which are all accessible from the main menu) to find secrets and tokens, so you can enjoy 100 per cent of the game.

And while the zones all have a somewhat clichéd elemental flavour (earth, air, fire, ice, stone, and water), the individual levels have been creatively designed, with the maps allowing for both the cautious navigation of claustrophobic tunnels, and large skirmishes in wide open chambers.

It could be argued that, overall, Bionicle Heroes is a little on the easy side. But just like the LEGO Star Wars titles, the real challenge is in taking a completist approach to exploration and gathering secrets.

No, if we had one main criticism, it would be there aren't enough enemy types. After a couple of hours, you'll begin to wonder if any new adversaries are going to emerge. They rarely do. End of level bosses can be tough but they're essentially the same as the footsoldiers, only larger and with longer health bars.

Experienced Metroid Prime: Hunters players may also find the controls implemented a little less fluidly than they are accustomed to, although most will find the system that uses the D-pad to move around and your stylus on the touchscreen to aim your gun satisfactory.

With the added attraction of a local four-player Versus mode (although sadly there's none of Metroid Prime: Hunters' Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection support here), and a clever Rune Translator (which lets you can unlock cheats after collecting tokens in the game), Bionicle Heroes makes a compelling package with much to recommend it.

Were it not for the control method's slight shortcomings and a lack in the total number of really interesting enemies, Bionicle Heroes might well have been a great title, rather than just a highly competent one. Even if LEGO isn't your thing, there's enough blasting and adventuring on offer to click all the blocks of most right-minded DS action fans.

Bionicle Heroes

Excellent for younger gamers, Bionicle Heroes is a well-designed and enjoyable shooter, although more experienced players might consider it lacking in challenges
Mark Walbank
Mark Walbank
Ex-Edge writer and retro game enthusiast, Mark has been playing games since he received a Grandstand home entertainment system back in 1977. Still deeply absorbed by moving pixels (though nothing 'too fast'), he now lives in Scotland and practices the art of mentalism.