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App of the week: Sports Hero review

Go for the gold with this exhausting, retro-infused mobile athletics game

Every four years, the partiuclar sporting event known for its five-ringed logo (and scarily litigious copyright protection) rolls round.

For a few weeks, everyone dreams about swimming like a fish, sprinting like a leopard, or lifting so much above your head that you wonder if you might at any moment turn green and start yelling HULK SMASH.

But many mere mortals run out of puff when dashing for a train. Fortunately, decades of home gaming have enabled armchair athletes to realise their dreams through digital recreations of running, jumping, and hurling sharp sticks through the air.

Sports Hero is the latest take, letting you work up a sweat over six events.

Button masher

Button masher

We’re not being sarcastic about the sweat bit, either. Sports Hero has a decidedly retro bent beyond its chunky pixelated graphics.

This is old-school athletics videogaming, devoid of nuance; it harks back to Konami’s Track & Field, having you smash a pair of buttons to build up speed or strength, and then prod a third button to perform an action.

On a glass touchscreen, this is faintly ridiculous. You will get disapproving looks from anyone that sees you frantically tapping away at your tablet or smartphone like a maniac and letting out a cry of anguish as the computer opponent nicks a win.

Still, Sport Hero’s tactile nature has a way of making you feel involved in the action in a manner that more delicate controls wouldn’t manage.

Photo finish

Photo finish

Despite a lack of depth throughout, and swipe controls in the swimming event that managed to baffle us during testing, Sports Hero could have won a gold had it not fallen over a hurdle and faceplanted on a track marked ‘freemium’.

The XP required to unlock events is drip-fed at appallingly slow rates, and it’s a while before you realise you can blaze things along by acquiescing to a coach’s offer of having a break to watch telly (i.e. stream a few ads).

Still, nice touches dotted throughout leave Sports Hero with something shiny. There’s a simultaneous two-player mode; you can swipe between buttons if you’re anti-tapping; and the athlete select screen neatly provides alternate genders, skin tones and nationalities.

If you want to ‘sports all the sports’ but not sit through a billion ads, there’s a one-off IAP to unlock all the disciplines, which fittingly costs the same as the arm-breaking Decathlon did on tape back in the 1980s.

Sports Hero is available for Android and iOS.

Stuff Says…

Score: 3/5

Sports Hero is a fun and amusing old-school arcade game that’s perfect for giving a few of your digits a thorough workout

Good Stuff

Pleasingly tactile controls

One-device/two-player mode

Six fairly varied events

Bad Stuff

XP system outside of ads is miserly

Free version is ad-infested

No way to play an entire games

Profile image of Craig Grannell Craig Grannell Contributor


I’m a regular contributor to Stuff magazine and Stuff.tv, covering apps, games, Apple kit, Android, Lego, retro gaming and other interesting oddities. I also pen opinion pieces when the editor lets me, getting all serious about accessibility and predicting when sentient AI smart cookware will take over the world, in a terrifying mix of Bake Off and Terminator.

Areas of expertise

Mobile apps and games, Macs, iOS and tvOS devices, Android, retro games, crowdfunding, design, how to fight off an enraged smart saucepan with a massive stick.

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