Not to be confused with the $1 billion Nintendo app game, Fire Emblem Heroes, this Hero Emblems sequel surpasses its pioneering predecessor. Our Hero Emblems II review delves into the pros of this gem of a game, as well as its one significant flaw.

Fans of the award-winning original Hero Emblems should need no introduction to this charming app game RPG. But for the uninitiated, Hero Emblems II is a freshly released app game that sees players embark on a classic fantasy RPG adventure with a twist – the combat is conducted through match-three puzzles a la Candy Crush or Matchington Mansion.

YouTube video


Your concerns upon hearing about a fantasy RPG match-three hybrid game may be the same as ours were, that by trying to do too much, either the core matching gameplay or the RPG elements will fall to the wayside. You would be wrong as we were. Hero Emblems II is a brilliantly built, finely balanced game that seamlessly merges two radically different genres.  


Hero Emblems ii


The Heroes of Hero Emblem II

A ragtag team of eccentric and noble adventurers joining together to solve mysteries and vanquish evil? We know, you’ve heard it all before. Still, the Hero Emblems II characters, “the Night Chasers”, are undeniably charming. There’s the courageous Zack, headstrong to a fault. There’s Dolores the Elven warrior, lost far from her home. There’s the trusting and pure prince-turned-“Rattie” Roy. And there’s Abner the “Frogkin” bard, who, if I’m understanding the dialogue correctly, is mostly just a bit of a perv.

And that’s not to forget the NPCs and their settlements which range from rat-folk in medieval towns to cat-folk in North African inspired desert kingdoms. And let’s not forget Inventor Buck the Eagle Eye, who builds rather precarious airships so you can soar above a partially open-world realm.


Hero Emblems ii


The delightful characters are individually voice acted. And while their battle cries are all in Japanese, that actually only serves to give the game some fun anime flavor. A classic fantasy soundtrack coupled with cute and whimsical animations really gives the world of Hero Emblems II character of its own. Even the backgrounds are well-animated and attractive, from fires burning on the hearths of taverns to the shadows of sea clouds floating over the region map. It’s a simplistic world, but one that you can’t help but wish to explore.


Hero Emblems II Gameplay & Mechanics

The app game has the majority of RPG elements that gamers have come to love. Party members level up, visit taverns, complete side quests, buy and sell a range of equipment and loot, drink potions, and get in all manner of hijinks. All of these play out as you would hope and expect from a mobile turn-based RPG. Things begin to change once you start exploring the world and coming across random combat encounters, traveling world bosses, and dungeons of all kinds.


Hero Emblems ii


Every time there’s combat in Hero Emblems II, a match-three board will appear covering the bottom two thirds of the screen while the turn-based combat plays out above. Players can have up to four active members on screen at once, and the emblems in the grid will reflect their skills. The emblems for Zack the headstrong warrior, for example, are swords. Aligning his emblems will cause him to make a melee damage attack. Alternatively, aligning the heart emblems of Ophelia the uppity healer will cause her to heal your party.

By assigning different actions to the different emblems, developers Heatpot Games introduce a genuinely tactical element to the game. And contrary to at least one Hero Emblems II review, it is a surprisingly challenging game that requires a lot of tactical decision making. The mechanics are made more complicated through special emblems (unlocked via the matching of 4+ emblems) which enact unique character moves as well as through interchangeable trait cards which activate when party members are switched in-and-out of combat (or upon other card-specific actions).

Between switching active party members, targeting specific emblems, equipping the right gear, using the right items, targeting enemy type weaknesses, and more, the tactics of this whimsical game are rather involved. Too many times to count, I’ve let my guard down and started swiping on autopilot only to have too many emblems caught in webs, set on fire, or frozen by unique enemy attacks.


Hero Emblems ii


Hero Emblems II – The Big Weakness

There are a few elements to Hero Emblems II that I’d tweak were I on the dev team. Random encounters tend to be more of a nuisance than anything. Rarely challenging enough to pose a threat, they largely just serve to slow down your exploration. Moreover, it sometimes feels like the game is a bit too safe an update from the original.

Still, these are small qualms in what is a brilliantly addicting game. It’s because of the strengths of the game that its one major weakness is so frustrating. And that weakness? The dialog.


Hero Emblems ii


Having put so much effort into creating an appealing, dynamic and fun title, Heatpot Games decided to cut corners in their localization, and the resulting dialog is a disaster. Never mind the seemingly arbitrary font sizes, so much of the dialog just doesn’t even make sense. It feels like it’s been put through Google translate three times and then has never been reviewed by a native English speaker.

App game localization, like all video game localization, is so much more than just translation. Having a localization expert on board will, for example, stop you calling NPCs things like “Fisherman Adulf”. If you hadn’t noticed Heatpot Games, that hasn’t been a popular name in Europe since approximately 1945.


Hero Emblems ii


Still, it seems they failed at the first hurdle. NPCs in these fantasy lands have called me a “pervert” and “homie” amongst other confusing labels that I assume are unintentional. Sometimes, characters are seemingly brutally rude and horrible to each other before you realize it’s a joke which just hasn’t translated as intended.

It’s a real shame because there’s a fun story to be had, and you can tell there is humor there if you can do the grammatical gymnastics required to find it.


Hero Emblems ii


Hero Emblems II Review Conclusions

While it’s a shame that much of the narrative is lost in translation, Hero Emblems II is still a fantastic little game. It’ll keep you up at night thanks not only to the whimsy of its talking ferrets and colorful characters but also thanks to its surprisingly challenging and dynamic mechanics. Its graphics, animation, and gameplay are an upgrade on the original even if they haven’t reinvented the wheel for a second time.

All too often hybrid genre games give the impression that devs have been tasked with mashing together games that just don’t fit. Hero Emblems II on the other hand, no doubt aided by the fact it’s the second in the series, is a genuinely well-constructed amalgamation of match-three and RPG mechanics. If you’ll excuse the low-hanging wordplay fruit, the two genres are a match. In their creative reimaging, Heatpot Games has done the seemingly impossible – created a new spin on the super saturated match-three genre.

Just for the love of all things frogkin, fix the dialog!

Hero Emblems II Review Score: 8/10

Hero Emblems II is available on the App Store for $6.99.

Minimum Device Specs: 64-bit iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad with iOS 10.3 or later

Recommended Device Specs: iPhone 6/iPad min4/iPad Air2/iPad 5th Gen/iPad Pro or later devices

Seeing as Hero Emblems II is getting more popular by the day (and we’re now thoroughly hooked), we’ll likely publish a comprehensive how-to guide full of Hero Emblems II tips and tricks. So, stay tuned. For other excellent app games released in July 2022, check out our highlights list – we’ll be publishing a list of exciting new app games at the end of every month, so be sure to bookmark so you don’t miss out.