TweetHeroes is a new iOS game from Chinese developer and publisher The9 Limited. The game combines a fully-functional Twitter client with an anime-style RPG, and is available now from the App Store as a $0.99 paid download, though a temporary promotion that will make the game free is set to follow in the near future.
TweetHeroes has two main components. The Twitter client within the game is functional but rather basic, offering little more than Twitter’s most fundamental capabilities — Tweets, Retweets (old- and new-style) and Favorites. There does not appear to be any support for viewing an entire “conversation” thread (i.e. the string of messages that a Mention refers to, triggered by using the Reply button in Twitter), and neither is there a discrete Search function, though it is possible to tap on hashtags and view all Tweets on that particular topic. There is also no support for Twitter’s more recent additions to its interface — the app’s “@Me” page only offers the ability to view Mentions and Direct Messages and does not include the newer Activity Feed functionality that informs users when they have been Retweeted, Favorited or followed.
It’s the game component of TweetHeroes that is the more interesting part, however. Players begin by choosing one of several different avatars for their character, and may then begin challenging other players. This may be accomplished either by visiting the app’s “Arena” page and challenging other players who are also registered with TweetHeroes, or it’s also possible to challenge anyone from the user’s main Twitter timeline.
Upon challenging another Twitter user, the display switches to an animated battle scene, which depicts how the player character (and any allies they have with them) performs against their opponent. Upon successfully defeating an opponent, players receive experience points and coins and have the opportunity to brag about their success, follow the player they just defeated on Twitter, and play a card-shuffling game in order to gain additional items or skills. Upon discovering a new type of item for the first time — be it a weapon, a skill card or an “ally” character — the game takes the player through a brief tutorial of how to use them, but from that point it is left to the player to determine what to do next. An in-game “quest” board challenges players to complete various challenges such as defeating a certain number of other players in a single day, and a story-based “Adventure” mode tasks players with defeating a variety of very strong computer-controlled opponents.
TweetHeroes is a fairly comprehensive, unusual package, then, but it is let down by a few flaws. The Twitter client isn’t full-featured enough to make anyone want to switch from their regular client of choice, and the game component, while fun, consists of little more than choosing an opponent and then watching a fight unfold — there’s little actual interaction with the opponent on Twitter, which feels like a missed opportunity.
Like the many text-based RPGs and card-battling games available on mobile devices, battle is largely a numbers game, with victory usually determined by whoever has the higher statistics — players are not able to influence the outcome once combat has started. It’s possible to purchase various premium items with hard currency, available via in-app purchase, but the game’s interface doesn’t make it overly clear what it’s possible to spend these things on. Similarly, a rather shaky translation to English throughout the app doesn’t help with determining how to access various possibilities, ultimately only making the game rewarding to those with the patience to put up with it.
TweetHeroes is an interesting curiosity for now, then, but not an essential purchase. What it does show, however, is an interesting degree of potential for use of the microblogging service as a platform for social games — some potential which can likely be harnessed better in the future with a bit of additional development and careful thought.
TweetHeroes is available now. It is not yet featured in any App Store leaderboards, but you will shortly be able to follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for iOS and social games and developers.