Developer(s) – Bitmap Bureau
Publisher(s) – Rising Star Games
PEGI – 7
Developed by Bitmap Bureau and released in March 2017, 88 Heroes is a 2D side-scroller whereby the player assumes control of 88 pointless superheroes to defeat the evil Dr. H8 who plans to destroy the Earth in 88 minutes. I first played this whilst on display at Play Expo Manchester 2015 along with Coffin Dodgers and Kaiju Panic. I first viewed it as a potentially addicting title with a great deal of replayability. The finished product is a respectable title, whilst not as addictive as I thought, does have replay value.
Graphics – 7/10
The game takes place in 4 different worlds for the player to progress across a total of 88 levels. Each world has its unique look ranging from office buildings to dungeons to space stations. The variety in design is pretty impressive but it can get somewhat repetitive across a total of 22 levels each. The majority of the game’s visual variety is represented through character design. 99 in total counting the characters featured in the physical release of the game.
Gameplay – 6/10
The character design in 88 Heroes is the basis of variety in gameplay. Each hero has their unique abilities and limitations making each playthrough different in both variety and challenge. Playing this, I was as challenged as I was amused by how both wonderful and terrible each hero is; the game being nigh-on impossible to get through with certain heroes like Captain Colossus and El Delayo. On the flip side, some heroes can be used to either pass levels with ease or bypass most obstacles altogether such as Mighty Mite, Bat Bot, and Tech Tank. Overall, I’d describe it as a fair challenge. Traversing through levels can get a little repetitive in terms of gameplay as well as visual design, and the boss fights are somewhat repetitive as well, but it played out well enough to have held my interest for a fair few playthroughs.
Controls – 7/10
The control scheme is hit-and-miss depending on what hero the player has control of. Some are easier to handle than others, which can either help or hinder the gameplay accordingly. I’ve already mentioned this hero, but the one that did cause me the most problems was El Delayo, as his actions are delayed after the player registers them through the controller, which whilst I can appreciate is part of the challenge, can start to get pretty frustrating at times. Other like Gonan and Tommy the Gun, are also not able to move and attack at the same time. And again, helps or hinders the game depending on whatever way the player looks at it.
Lifespan – 7/10
A single playthrough can take there around an hour or two, dependent of course on player’s skill. But if players are looking for a stern challenge each time, there is replay value to be had playing through the game multiple times. Heroes are picked at random every time a hero dies posing a different challenge every time. It gives the game a Roguelike feel to it, albeit with the levels laid out the same as opposed to being randomly generated. It could be an idea to do that with a potential sequel, though they would have to make the heroes fractionally less useless. Otherwise, the game would be practically impossible to complete.
Storyline – 6/10
The basic premise is simple; 88 pointless superheroes are called in to stop an invasion of Earth carried out by the evil alien Dr. H8. I enjoyed the sense of humor that was infused into this title, with the sheer variety of terrible, terrible superheroes and how their abilities were more of a hindrance than a help. If you’ve seen films like The Mystery Men or Kick-Ass, you can appreciate the humor in 88 Heroes.
Originality – 7/10
Overall, despite lacking originality in environmental design, no 2D side-scroller like this has ever come about. And it’s a pretty creative title in terms of gameplay because of that. Despite the game’s flaws, I think its creators did a good job taking the old way of playing games and making something new from them. There aren’t many 2D side-scrollers with as much replay value as there is in this title.
In summation, whilst lacking in areas, 88 Heroes is a fairly enjoyable title and definitely worth more than one playthrough. It provides challenge and humor, outweighing the frustration of playing with certain heroes and accomplishing what the developers intended.