Kamen Rider is a beloved Tokusatsu franchise that’s just as big as Super Sentai/Power Rangers. The franchise centers on masked heroes with different motifs (usually insects) that use motorcycles, change forms using cool gimmicky belts, and fight using different weapons ranging from but not limited to swords and guns.
It’s a series that’s ripe with imagination, one that has spawned quite a number of games over the years. Its latest entry entitled Memory of Heroez, is being touted as a “Hero Chain Action” game and is now available for the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. Does it Rider Kick its way to greatness or does it fail to impress just like one of Hiden Aruto’s jokes? Here’s our review of Kamen Rider: Memory of Heroez.
A Kamen Rider’s Work Is Never Done
The setting is a new area called Sector City, where circumstances have brought three Kamen Riders together, namely Kamen Rider W (Double), Kamen Rider OOO (pronounced O’s), and the very first Rider of Japan’s Reiwa era: Kamen Rider Zero-One. A mysterious and evil scientist called Zeus is harnessing the powers from each Rider’s respective worlds, conducting nefarious experiments that put human lives at risk all to become a god. And naturally, the Kamen Riders must put a stop to his plans.
Memory of Heroez assumes that the player is familiar with the Kamen Riders. While the game is still totally playable even without prior knowledge of these characters, there are many references made to each of these Riders’ shows and major enemies like the Sonozaki family from W and the Greeed from OOO that could lose a new player in the process.
Having personally seen W and OOO, I was instantly familiar with some of the main cast. The game actually borrows a concept from the crossover movies, where the main Rider would team up with a Rider from another show to defeat a common enemy. For a Kamen Rider fan, the game plays and feels like a great nostalgia trip.
One thing I appreciate is how Memory of Heroez puts focus on just a handful of characters. Seeing as there’s a story to follow, it would be too confusing to have all the Riders from the Showa Era all the way to the latest series, Kamen Rider Saber, show up at the same time in the game. With fewer Riders, even a new player can familiarize themselves with the cast. An encyclopedia serving as a guide to each Rider would have been nice to have, we’d imagine.
A little half-baked
The game is mainly a third-person beat ‘em up. You’ll run to certain points in an area where you will be surrounded by a barrier, baddies will appear, and you will need to defeat them in order to proceed to the next area. Along the way, you will gather different Kamen Rider powers like Gaia Memories and Core Medals that will bolster each Rider’s arsenal of moves, making them stronger. Aside from their signature powers, you’ll also get access to Rider accessories like W’s Memory Gadgets and OOO’s Candroids.
Memory Gadgets are W’s tools of the trade since he works as a detective. The Denden Sensor, for example, is used to scans areas for clues or hidden items. The Spider Shock serves as a grappling hook to reach high places.
On the other hand, Candroids are OOO’s transforming animal partners that can assist you in combat, like the Tako Candroid that can fly around and spray ink at enemies to confuse them. It all sounds exciting doesn’t it? But unfortunately, that’s the first of Memory of Heroez’ shortcomings.
The game is sadly very, very repetitive to the point that it gets tedious. The “running to points and beating up enemies to advance” formula is what you’ll be doing for the majority of the game. Even in what looks like a wide open area, the game will stop to surround you with a barrier and teleport in the enemies you need to defeat. Rinse and repeat, and such a momentum breaker.
The game also tends to hold your hand a lot. While it’s appreciated that the game offers different mechanics like searching areas for clues and items or finding keys to unlock doors, you’re practically told where these hidden items are by waypoints that you just need to walk to. Remember those Rider gadgets? You don’t really get to use them freely as they’re only accessible when at specific points or when the game prompts you to.
There was a lot of potential here since Kamen Rider W is a detective, so his investigative gadgets could have been utilized better for more detective-related gameplay. As a matter of fact, after finding clues like a password to enter into a terminal, the game will tell you exactly what to enter… I mean, I guess it made sense since you’ve found all the clues already? It’s just too much hand-holding.
Same with OOO’s Candroids that you can only use when a prompt tells you that you can summon them. What doesn’t help is that if you miss this prompt and enter a fight, the opportunity to use them is lost. Then again, not summoning them may give a bit of a challenge as the grunts you face are almost pushovers, like the grunts in Musou games.
There are some RPG elements mixed in, as advancing through the game will increase your level cap, making your Kamen Riders stronger and letting you increase parameters and strengthen attacks. You won’t need to worry about running out of resources as the game is rather generous in giving them. Aside From Experience points, you also collect Enemy Codes that you can use to develop different Accelerators (accessories) that your Riders can equip.
During combat, prompts will also show to indicate an opportunity for a counterattack, which is totally the opposite of all the hand-holding the game has done so far. The timing is a little stricter than usual, so it offered a bit of a challenge, and it feels that trying to master the timing is more challenging than the defeating the enemy grunts themselves.
Fortunately, some bosses offered more of a challenge even if they were still noticeably repetitive. Bosses have 2 phases to defeat where the second will be stronger and have different attack patterns compared to the first. These patterns will need to be studied and exploited and once they’re down it’s your chance to pummel them with your Riders’ signature attacks. It’s here that Memory of Heroez somewhat succeeds as a Kamen Rider game, though don’t get your hopes completely up.
The main fun in Kamen Rider Memory of Heroez is feeling like a Kamen Rider and defeating the bad guys. Like we said, you slowly build up your arsenal of moves by gathering each Riders’ gadgets, which are all divided into each Rider’s respective forms.
W’s CycloneJoker form, for example, is his default but has an air dash to get through wide pitfalls. His LunaJoker form gives him some stretchable limbs where he can pull enemies near him. CycloneTrigger gives W access to his Trigger Magnum where he can shoot enemies from afar as long as he has AP remaining in his meter.
OOO’s forms, on the other hand, are based on animals where his GataKiriBa form lets him jump high and shoot electricity from his antennas. On the other hand, his PuToTyra form gives him the power of dinosaurs (though in the show it makes him go berserk).
Zero-One also has different forms based on animals like his Rising Hopper and Flying Falcon forms courtesy of ProgriseKeys that he inserts into his Zero-One Driver belt.
In other words, each Rider has a default form that’s fun and balanced, where each new form they acquire specializes in different combat aspects and has unique moves. The game lets you change form on the fly during combat. This can be either simply changing form, or doing a Form attack where your Kamen Rider will do an attack as he changes form.
Deal enough damage and you will eventually fill up your EX gauge where you can launch a power finisher. Alternatively you can use it to access a Rider’s EX form which grants you a lot of power.
From a Kamen Rider fan’s POV, these forms are accurate to their respective series and they’re well represented in combat. For example OOO’s RaToraTar form represents felines and has the same moves he used in the show like running fast and a shining beam from his head. In W’s case, his HeatJoker form lets him walk through fire.
What the game lacks in difficulty and enemy variety, it makes up on what little semblance of strategy it has when changing forms in the middle of combat. It was fun as it encourages you to come up with your own combos utilizing each Rider Forms’ strengths, but at the same time the game caps this by having each form change cost a big chunk of your AP meter, limiting your ability to pull off some insane combos.
Combos are a big part of the game as it is a big factor to get a high rating at the end of a level that rewards you with enemy codes. Getting that coveted SSS ranking is a little on the easy side and is not as tough as something like Devil May Cry so you won’t have to try too hard, but it also feels like the game just gives it to you.
Visuals scream last-gen
Memory of Heroez does not look terrible by any means, but it’s a shame that it looks like something from the PS3 rather than a PS4. The graphics look average – Sector City may have different areas like forests and deserts, but they look rather bland and forgettable. Level design looks generic as well and doesn’t really encourage exploration.
Animations could also be improved, as the Riders feel a little bit stiff when exploring or during combat. It’s a bit disappointing, as Memory of Heroez accurately depicts the riders, but falls short in the overall polish of the characters.
Audio is something that the fans of the series will really come to enjoy. While the game doesn’t bring back the actual actors to reprise their roles, their replacements are no slouches by any means. So when you hear Shotaro and Philip from Kamen Rider W deliver their signature “count up your sins” line, it actually sounds just like them!
In particular, if you get the Premium Sound Edition, you’ll get access to all the music from each show and the game will let you make up your own playlist. Having seen W and OOO, it was a big nostalgia factor beating up enemies to the tune of their theme songs. Form changes are also accompanied by their respective music and voices, like when Zero-One changes his Rising Hopper form and you hear that familiar “a jump to the sky changes to a Rider Kick” line. Audio in the game will certainly be a treat even for non-fans, but moreso for fans of the franchise.
What we liked:
- Accurate Kamen Rider depiction
- Form changing during combat is fun and offers a bit of strategy
- Music lifted straight from the shows
What we didn’t like:
- Repetitive gameplay mechanics
- Clunky character movement
- Outdated looking graphics
- Underutilized gadgets for gameplay
- Not very challenging
Kamen Rider: Memory of Heroez could have had something going for it, but falls flat on a lot of points. Despite the faithful representation of W, OOO, and Zero-One even down to their fighting styles, the game looks rather outdated and is a walk in the park that denies the player satisfaction from actually enjoying the action. The game is bogged down by repetitive gameplay which will feel tedious at a very early point.
For what you’re getting, the price point may be an issue, especially on the Switch where it’s around P2,595 compared to the PS4’s P2,195 price range.
All in all, Kamen Rider: Memory of Heroez is a tough sell even for a fan of the series. It would be hard to justify full price to get a combat game that does not even get that aspect properly implemented. If you’re a bit curious and are at least familiar with the franchise, it may be best to wait for this to go on sale.
*Kamen Rider: Memory of Heroez was reviewed on a PS4 Pro via a review code provided by the publisher.