|2011-05-30||PC||MMO||E (Everyone)||Jagex / Herotainment|
A flash-based browser MMO, Herotopia is an exploratory and educational adventure aimed at children 6 and up, and something that I just recently had the chance to play. In Herotopia, every regular kid is a superhero battling the group of villains known as the Bully Bunch, exploring famous locales around the world, discover interesting facts about different cultures and the environment and practice a variety of school subjects in the form of fun games.
The free basic membership is fairly limited and allows players to slightly customize their character, access some of the available games and activities and have only one Superpower. Available to everyone is also the Herofriends feature, safe chat email and Herograms.
All-access membership is available for $5.95, and the added bonuses allow Heroes to use their Topia Tokens to purchase items for their characters or furnishings for their Secret Hideout, adopt an Orangutan Sidekick, choose Superpowers and get a Supervehicle. Plus, with the all-access membership, all games and missions are available to be played, you can earn experience and levels for completing tasks and do other activities, and you get to participate in exclusive events and vote for upcoming game features. Part of the revenue generated by Herotopia memberships will be donated to the Global Heroship Fund to help kids do their own good deeds in the real world.
The world is divided into continents, which you are free to explore at will: Paris, the North Pole, Beijing, New York and Herotopia Island are the current available locations. Everywhere you go you can interact with certain objects on the screen and reveal something fun, like a game or a piece of trivia about the respective country. Famous landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty and the Great Wall of China are featured in this colourful cartoony 2D world.
The available games are not just mindless tasks, but activities that encourage thinking and self-expression. There are coloring scenes, jigsaw puzzles, geography challenges, object finders, a Jeopardy-like trivia game, snowball fights and more waiting to be found. In the Hero Hideout there is a special section for games called Power Puzzles where you can find the daily Power Puzzle and the Puzzle Arcade. The Power Puzzle is a challenge composed of random tasks you can find in the Puzzle Arcade. The Puzzle Arcade is a compilation of mini-games where you can find spelling checks, shape recognition tasks, math operations, jigsaw puzzles, crossword challenges, telling time challenges and trivia questions.
Others games found on the world map are more casual and just plain fun, like a match-three Bejweled clone with fruits, catching recyclables in a bin as they fall from the sky, serving bouncing food with a tray to prevent it from falling or serving bamboo burgers to hungry pandas. Playing games rewards you with Topia Tokens which you can spend on the different world shops on goodies for your Hero or for your Secret Hideout.
There are also daily missions that have you following clues and finding items around the world, rewarding you with experience. Earning experience and levelling up will unlock special powers for your Superhero.
In sum, Herotopia may not be offering the latest in MMORPG graphics or raiding instances, but it passes along good values, helps children to deal with bullying, promotes diversity by making them aware of other cultures, and teaches them valuable information about preserving the environment and endangered species. Parents might want to consider trying it out and see for themselves how this can be a positive experience for their little ones.