Developer(s) – Bitmap Bureau
Publisher(s) – Rising Star Games
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. After having first played this when it was still under development at Play Expo Manchester all the way back in 2015, I first viewed it as a potentially addicting title with a great deal of replayability. The finished product, whilst not being a terrible game by any means, is a respectable title and whilst not being as addictive as I thought that it had the potential to be at the time, does certainly have a fair amount of replay value.
Graphics – 7/10
The game is set across 4 different worlds for the player to progress across a total of 88 levels, each world has its own unique look ranging from office buildings to dungeons to space stations. The variety in world 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 that of the character designs, which there are a lot of; 99 in total counting the characters featured in the physical release of the game.
Gameplay – 6/10
The character design is also where the variety in gameplay is incorporated. Each hero has their own 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 such as Captain Colossus and El Delayo. On the flipside, there are heroes that 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 each level can get a little repetitive in terms of game 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 largely hit and miss depending on what hero the player has control of at the time. 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. A couple of others, like Gonan and Tommy the Gun are also not able to move and attack at the same time, which 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 skill, but if players are looking for a stern challenge each time, there is a fair bit of replay value to be had playing through the game multiple times, as the heroes are picked at random every time a hero dies posing a different challenge every time, almost giving the game a Roguelike feel to it, albeit with the levels are laid out exactly 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 enough; 88 pointless superheroes are called in to stop an invasion of Earth carried out by the evil alien Dr. H8. The game is light on plot otherwise, but I could fully appreciate the sense of humour that was incorporated into this title with the sheer variety of terrible, terrible superheroes and how their abilities seem more of a hindrance than a help. You can appreciate the humour to be had in that, especially if you’ve seen films like The Mystery Men or Kick-Ass.
Originality – 7/10
Overall, despite its lack of originality in terms of environmental design, the point is that no 2D side-scroller like this has ever come about and is a pretty creative title in terms of gameplay because of that. It was created by two old-school gamers who wanted to take the old way of playing games and make something new out of it, which I think they did a particularly good job of despite the game’s flaws. There aren’t many 2D side-scrollers with as much replay value as there is in this title.
In summation, whilst lacking in certain areas, 88 Heroes proved to be a fairly enjoyable title and one definitely worth more than a single playthrough. It provides challenge and humour, which ultimately for me outweighs the frustration of trying to make it through the game with certain heroes on the roster, accomplishing what the developers set out to do with it.
6.5/10 (Above Average)