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My Hero Review Rewind

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On 08/16/2022 at 08:30 AM by Jamie Alston

The Hapless Hero

The poor collision detection and grueling difficulty make this one a hard sell.

In 1986, Sega introduced the Sega Card for their Master System home console in the US. It represented the Master System’s ability to play games on small cartridges about the size of a credit card via the card expansion slot on the original system models. Sega wasted no time creating a lineup of games that would be best suited for bite-sized play sessions. My Hero was one of those games. Being released in the arcade about a year before its home console release, the game is a scrolling brawler that had the honor (or disgrace) of being one of the first guinea pigs for Sega’s gamble.

You are Steve- a kung-fu master whose girlfriend is stolen from under his nose by a gang of mohawked street punks. I’m not sure how a kung-fu master just lets someone punch them in the face and take their girlfriend, but that’s exactly how it happened here. So now, Steve will battle through knife-throwers, ferocious bulldogs, bouncing wheels, and many other obstacles to confront the gang’s leader and get his girl back.

Sega deserves an “A” for effort in staying true to the gameplay style of the arcade version, albeit with the apparent visual downgrade. But that isn’t saying much for anyone who played the original version, as it was notoriously hard to stay alive for long. And unfortunately, that was the only effort that went into this game when it was ported to the Master System. On the surface, the game should have been as good as Kung-Fu or Double Dragon. The controls and moves of the main character in My Hero are nearly identical to that found in the other two games- he can punch, kick, jump-kick, and crouch-kick. But the simplistic controls are undermined by poor game design.

The game’s biggest problem is the poor collision detection, making the act of punching an enemy or deflecting objects thrown at you a crapshoot. It’s a bummer if you prefer the close-range approach in side-scrolling brawlers. Worst of all, it’s nearly impossible to determine how close is too close. Second, the game is slow to respond to any quick presses of the attack button. This wouldn't be a problem if the enemies were spaced further apart than they are. The first few times I played this game, I tried to rapidly take down three thugs with the simple punch or standing kick moves, only to find in horror that the controller just doesn’t react with the action on screen fast enough. As a result, you’ll have to jump-kick nearly everything since it’s the only effective strategy for fending off multiple attacks from both sides.

The third pillar of weakness on this already shaky foundation is that the game at its core just isn’t much fun. For one thing, it’s severely unbalanced. For example, during the sections before the big boss fight, your character is a one-hit-wonder who requires the highest degree of skill and patience to guide him to his goal. But once you reach the boss for that round, you’re suddenly given a health meter so you can sustain multiple hits. It’s as if the design team had a sudden change of heart over the unfair gameplay mechanics in the earlier sections of the game. It makes little sense.

You only start with two lives, and there is no provision to continue where you left off after you’ve quickly had those lives snuffed out. These problems combine to create a game that offers a high demand with little reward for your efforts. While you briefly reunite with your girlfriend at the end of each round, the same boss character just socks you in the face, re-kidnaps her, and forces you to go through all of this again until you eventually lose all of your lives. Yeah, what a vast reward.

There isn’t much variety in the game’s graphics. You travel through the same urban area in each round. While there are a few variations of bad guys, they’re mostly the same thugs repeatedly, just with slightly different methods of attack. The beach area where the boss fight takes place is the best-looking portion of the entire game. And while that’s commendable for a game that feels defective from the start, it still doesn’t make up for the lack of variety of environments and boss characters in the arcade version. It at least helped to explain the logic behind having to chase after your girl repeatedly. But all of that was nixed from the Master System, likely due to the limited space of Sega Card.

You can also apply what I said about the disappointing visual quality to the music. While it isn’t completely horrible, it isn’t one of the better compositions. To make matters worse, despite the marginally better boss battle music and an annoying tune that plays when you die, the leading music track is the only one throughout the never-ending game. The sound effects are alright, I guess. To the game’s credit, they do sound reasonably accurate to the arcade version in this case.

My Hero simply comes up short no matter how you slice it. The game is a victim of poor design choices and a poor choice of media format. The inconsistent collision detection, unbalanced difficulty, and bland gameplay elements create an experience that just isn’t worth having. These issues are worsened by the lack of variety in its visual and audio offerings. Compared to standard Master System cartridges, the Sega Card could hold only 256 kilobits of storage, about only 1/4 of the standard cartridge’s capacity. It doesn’t seem likely that this game will resurface on a current platform any time soon. But don’t worry- you’re not missing much.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.



Cary Woodham

08/16/2022 at 09:21 PM

I've never played this one, but the game looks so derpy!  So does the box art!


08/26/2022 at 12:25 AM

The box art is a picture of the card. 

Wondet why the Master System went so cheap on box art?

Jamie Alston Staff Writer

08/26/2022 at 02:02 AM

What kills me is that the image shown on the card was used as the actual cover art in other regions vs. showing a hand holding the tiny card. I never understood why they didn't just do the same thing here.

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