88 Heroes Hands-On Preview
88 Heroes is a 2D action-platforming game with… 88 heroes. Well, heroes is perhaps a little too kind. You’ll play as a wide variety (88, in fact) of largely useless “superheroes” to stop Dr. H8 from annihilating the Earth with 88 thermo-nuclear warheads. Oh, and you have only 88 minutes to do so.
88 Heroes has you partake in a voyeuristic adventure, watching on from Dr H8’s lair as your band of heroes attempt to thwart his plan culminating in world annihilation – all as he sits and slurps milkshakes, shoots his clumsy minions, and cackles as another hero meets their demise at the hands of his cunning traps.
88 Heroes has 88 levels to conquer. You’ll have 88 seconds to complete each level, and 88 minutes in total to complete all the levels. The 88 minute doomsday timer will persist through deaths, wherever the 88 seconds resets each time a new hero spawns in. The levels take place in four different zones, each more outlandish than the last, and each zone is concluded with a unique boss battle (think Dr Eggman from Sonic and you’re not far off, at all). Eventually you’ll be heading off to a space zone, but not before you’ve conquered the treacherous office zone!
If you haven’t noticed by now, you’ll be seeing a lot of 8s in 88 Heroes. LOTS. Bitmap Bureau obviously have a bit of an 8diction (sorry). Ah well, it’s one better than Bungie’s 7 obsession.
The hero selection is entirely random, which means that there are a lot of gameplay possibilities afforded to you in 88 Heroes. The heroes themselves are, for the most part, varied and fun to play with, although trying to learn each character’s abilities and nuances before they meet their maker is a challenge. When you spawn in, a brief bio and cheat sheet for the character’s abilities is displayed, however once you’ve passed the spawn area, there’s no way to get this information back on screen. The bios are humorous and the characters in general poke fun at pop culture, and other games (there is a Portal-inspired hero who is just fantastic). I will say though that Glass Girl is the most infuriating character – no way to attack, and a tendency to shatter to bits (literally) from a high fall.
It might just be my ineptitude for games in general, but I have often ended up dying just five seconds into a level in quick succession, which quickly depleted my 88 lives – seriously, you’d think 88 would be enough…. Nope. Prepare to die, a lot. We’re not talking Super Meat Boy levels, because you have unlimited lives in SMB, but your time with certain heroes will be limited to say the least.
A game that has striking parallels to 88 Heroes is Broforce – which, I know, isn’t available on Xbox One due to Microsoft’s parity clause. Broforce features unique action icon heroes like Rambo, John McClane, and of course, Chuck Norris as its playable characters. The clever humour and wit applied to 88 Heroes’ heroes is on the same par or perhaps even better than Broforce’s.
With all this said, 88 Heroes isn’t entirely perfect. The view of being in Dr H8’s lair is a little distracting and could be dialled back. The bio of characters and their abilities should be able to be pulled up at any time. Additionally, there should be a bit of an easier way to resurrect or regain heroes who have died. In my first playthrough I revived only 3 out of 88 heroes, which seems a bit underpowered.
If you’re a fan of retro 2d action platformers with a twist and a ton of gameplay potential, then I’m sure you’ll be frothing at the mouth to get your hands on 88 Heroes when it releases later this month!