88 Heroes Review
88 Heroes is the latest from developer Bitmap Bureau and publisher Rising Star Games. The game flips the script on platformers with pixel precision, and forces you to play each of the 88 maps with one of the 88 heroes. Each of these heroes brings their own unique attacks (or lack thereof) as well as their movement abilities.
However, capitalizing on each of these heroes’ abilities and learning how to use them in the game is part of the fun, but also part of the annoyance. 88 Heroes isn’t perfect with sometimes redundant gameplay and difficulty to learn the heroes fully, but the ride provides enough value for those who want to dive in and learn the ins and outs of all 88 heroes.
88 Heroes is light on story, giving very limited premise to justify the rest of the game. With that being said, the lack of story perfectly matches the chaotic and random nature of the game. In short, there are 88 levels, each with 88 seconds on the timer, that must be beaten with a randomly selected (on death or a new level) hero out of the 88 on the roster. All of this amount to be 88 minutes (roughly) to stop Dr. H8 from destroying the earth.
Overall, I don’t mind the lack of deep story at all. While some games that are chaotic in nature miss this point by completely throwing the story out the window, 88 Heroes stikes a nice balance by giving enough to justify fighting, while still throwing you right into the action.
Outside of the randomly selected heroes, the visuals of the game are, perhaps, it’s most unique point. While the standard retro inspired aesthetic reigns true, the hero, enemy, and border design lend to something greater. Starting with the heroes, each one of the 88 brings a fantastically unique design that lends to the chaotic and ridiculous nature of the game. Plays on characters like Mario, Master Splinter, and James Bond are some of the more fun characters I’ve encountered in a game. Each of the heroes brings a unique design, some of them hilarious, some useful, and some flat out absurd (in the best way).
Furthermore, the border that wraps around the screen brings a nice contrast to the world. The “hub” where the actual gameplay takes place breaks the retro aesthetic and features “bot things” running across the bottom of the screen. While distracting, it breaks the mold of what one of these games is supposed to look like and gives some much-needed atmosphere in this crazy world.
However, the level design can feel redundant. While the 88 levels are split up into four zones, each with their own look, the levels contained within each world look the exact same as the ones that preceded them. The variety feels nice when the jump in zones is made, but contained within each zone can be a bit boring.
The sound follows suit with the graphics. While the soundtrack isn’t phenomenal, it is plenty to give each of the levels a driving force to match the gameplay. Additionally, there are very few breaks in soundtrack between levels so that the transition from level to level maintains momentum.
What does stick out in the audio realm are all the sound effects that are laid over each action. The effects are crispy and in your face, and the addition of sound effects for the “bot things” running across the bottom of the screen make the chaotic nature drive to a whole new level. Sound can do a lot to create the tone for a game, and it’s apparent that 88 Heroes full advantage in the sound effects department.
However, the true heart of 88 Heroes comes from the eccentric gameplay that is next to impossible to put down. While the game present traditional platforming mechanics with traditional obstacles, the heroes and their range of abilities makes each new life feel like a brand new game. Some heroes can attack while others can’t, some can run while others fly, and some run in hamster balls while others crawl on the walls (yes, that’s a real thing). Altogether, it means that you must focus in upon each death or the beginning of each level on what the hero is capable and exploit each of their unique abilities to not only complete the level but get the highest score out of it.
The addition of coins and a score meter in each level truly make 88 Heroes endless replayable. Only certain heroes will be able to overcome obstacles to collect everything in all the levels, so experimenting with different heroes and what they can do provides plenty of creative ways to tackle getting every last item in every last level.
Unsurprisingly, 88 Heroes has quite the large learning curve. However, the difficulty isn’t obnoxious and feels more like discovery and less like grinding. Since each character is limited in their range, the learning curve is focused more on the heroes and less on the actual mechanics of the game. This allows you to jump head first into the game without feeling too lost, and build your knowledge from there.
For the Aficionado
88 Heroes hits where a lot of games miss. It introduces and original idea with a unquie spin and provides hours and hours of chaotic fun. For my money, it’s hard to beat 88 Heroes at only $14.99. I would buy the game, even at full price.