Released last year on most major consoles, Bionicle Heroes was about as bad as it comes without actually being broken. The action was blatantly derivative of Traveller's Tales' Lego Star Wars games. The game also featured mind-numbingly simplistic and repetitive gameplay, as well as a dearth of worthwhile added content. Luckily, the Wii version has come along to deliver the coup de grace, effectively retaining all of the games vices while delivering a control scheme that would be obnoxious even if the camera controls weren't completely busted.
Playing out over the course of several books, comics, and movies, the Bionicle Lego story enjoys an ever-growing library of source material. And if you're familiar with the lore, you'll know that Bionicle Heroes mostly follows the Bionicle Legends story arc. However, if the Bionicle name is new to you, you'll have the stage set by a brief narration at the beginning of the game. And that's about it. Because the only other "voice talent" you'll hear throughout the rest of the game is a few grunts from the menacing yet simple-minded enemy Piraka in cutscenes, you'll be left to infer what exactly is going on. So here's the gist. You arrive on the island of Voya Nui in an elongated tube, where some weird little robot kid hooks you up with these masks that give you elemental powers. From there, you'll need to enter six element-themed zonesâ€”forest, ice, fire, and so onâ€”defeat the six evil Piraka, and recover the Mask of Light. There's also some kind of parasitic golden banana peel thrown into the mix, most likely for good measure.
How you interact with Bionicle Heroes is nearly identical to Traveller's Tales' other Lego series, Lego Star Wars. You'll run around a linear environment, exploding Lego pieces and enemies into a burst of smaller Lego pieces of varying point totals. These totals range from 10 to 250, which you'll then be able to spend on upgrades and unlockables in the cantina, err, Matoran Enclave. You'll find even more of these Lego pieces with the help of each character's individual elemental power, which looks exactly like the Force and behaves similarly to constructing in LSW. Along the way, you'll also collect gold and silver Toa canisters, with some being inaccessible until you go back through the level after you've upgraded your robot. By finding enough of these canisters, as well as passing zones and bashing bosses, you'll be able to visit a trophy room, where you can read up on gaps in the story. But by the time you've aggregated enough tidbits of information for the story to become semicoherent, you'll probably be past caring and will wish that you'd just read the books.
Plot holes aside, one of the major problems with Bionicle Heroes is its dull, repetitive gameplay. Heroes is so dull precisely because of the game's core feature. Hero mode activates once you've picked up a certain number of Lego pieces. When in hero mode, you are completely invincible to all damage, and this invulnerability lasts until you activate a giant golden statue to access the next area of any given level. By being even remotely selective with how you pick up Lego pieces, you'll be invincible a good two-thirds to three-fourths of the game, which means that nearly every situation before a boss battle is utterly trivialized. And on the off chance that you do die, you'll simply lose your currently equipped mask and receive a full bar of health. Replacement masks can be found around every corner, but because they're rarely needed and picking one up switches you to that character, they're more of an escalating annoyance than a life-saving necessity.
Even if the camera control wasn't brokenâ€”almost to the point of being unplayableâ€”the control translation from a gamepad to the Wii Remote and Nunchuk would be frustrating and cumbersome. Bionicle Heroes uses a rigid auto-aiming system, where your target is selected from the many enemies and Lego constructions littering the screen. Because you're nearly always invincible, the lethal and nonlethal targets are functionally the same, so the auto-aim isn't much of an issue. However, if you are vulnerable, it can be a chore trying to target the enemy that's shooting at you. You're able to strafe right or left and move forward or backward with the Nunchuk's analog stick, and using this in combination with the Wii Remote to shift around the camera, you're able to finagle out a bead on the target and kill it. A more unwieldy system there never was devised, made worse by the fact that the game lends itself quite obviously and naturally to just using the Wii Remote as a sighting reticle.