Not a Hero: Super Snazzy Edition Review

By Cindy Minguez, 7 months ago
Developer Roll7 of OlliOlli fame has a new title hitting the Xbox One, NOT A HERO: SUPER SNAZZY EDITION, and to say that the characters aren't heroes...well, that's an understatement. These guys enjoy their work far too much to be heroic. The game has been hyped as another great retro shooter, but does it live up to the glory days that it echoes?

Doing bad stuff since 1981.Doing bad stuff since 1981.

Not a Hero opens as BunnyLord plans to take over the world. Before he can focus on world domination, he first wants to be elected mayor. It's the player's job, as one of BunnyLord's crew, to raise his rankings among voters; it's his plan to accomplish this by fighting crime in the city. Each mission represents a day in the mayoral campaign and each has a different objective. The first week is devoted to fighting the Russian mob in the suburb of Vodkaville, specifically a Russian hood named Bogdan. The first job - wipe everyone out. Eventually, you will arrive at Bogdan's office (after slaughtering all of his men) and a sign on top of his building advertises "Doing Bad Stuff Since 1981" -- that says a lot about this game.

It's very reminiscent of the over-the-top '80's, a time of big hair, squared shoulder pads, and disco. It was also the heyday of pixels. Everything was a little over the top, and so is this shooter. Following that line of thought, you should be aware that this game isn't for kids. It's cartoony and funny, but the pixelated blood flows copiously, spewing from headshots and splattering everywhere. The language is also very rough, with frequent use of the F-word and other language inappropriate for children, so players should be aware of any young ones that might be around before playing this one.

The game is very easy to pick up and play with only a few moves to learn: move (directional pad or left analog stick), slide (cn_A), shoot (cn_RT or cn_X), reload (cn_B), special attack (cn_Y), critical hit (get close before you shoot), and execute (shoot over a downed enemy). That's it. There are no fancy moves and no complicated combos to learn, but to then make the assumption that the game is easy would be an unfounded leap in logic. This little baby is hard.

Each character has different strengths.Each character has different strengths.

Each mission has an overall objective, such as "Kill everyone" or "Put up all the posters." Each mission also has three sub-objectives. These take many different forms, such as complete the level in under 100 seconds, complete the level using less than 100 bullets, collect the carrots, make six kills in twelve seconds, don't lose any hostages, etc. It's in the sub-objectives that the game becomes very challenging. To complete a level, you simply have to complete the main objective. To increase the BunnyLord's voter ranking as quickly as possible, however, one must complete the sub-objectives, as well. Increasing these rankings also unlocks new characters with which to play.

Players first take on the role of Steve, BunnyLord's best friend. He uses a pistol and is accurate, but can only shoot while standing still. Each further character uses a different weapon and has different strengths. Samantha, for example, can shoot and re-load on the run with her pistol. Clive can't use special weapons because he has his own special attack: dual-wielding with pistols to shoot in both directions at once. Mike, a crazed hitman, is very, very fast with his sawed-off shotgun but can also pull a knife with which to perform silent executions, so players have several different styles of play from which to choose. If a level is too difficult, giving someone else a try might be the easiest solution. Additionally, various ammo and special weapon types are available in each level. Picking up briefcases changes the equipped ammo, which can be Standard, Hot Shots (set people on fire), Fat Boys (explode on impact), Riccoshots (bounce around like crazy), and many others. Briefcases are scattered around a level but can also be dropped by enemies. Special Weapons, three of which are Grenades, Turrets, and Impact (throw an exploding bowling ball), are picked up in crates.

Kill those criminals!Kill those criminals!

The game does a good job of mixing up environments despite the sameness of always running through buildings. You'll fight Russian mobsters, Upgrayyd's drug gang, Yakuza Triads with ninjas, and others. The buildings get bigger and more complex, but the basic mechanic is the same throughout the game. The enemies and objectives of each level stay the same, so you can memorize a level if necessary. On the downside, some of the objectives get hard really early in the game, which can be a bit discouraging to a newbie. The game would benefit from a few more easy levels before the real difficulty sets in. One nice thing is that you can return to any level at any time, so if it's getting tedious trying to get that one objective, you can take a break and return later to try again. You can also restart a level at any time. If it's going badly, simply pause to choose Restart and start again. It's a nice touch not to have to finish the level before beginning again. On the flip side, an auto-load feature when you die would have been a nice addition since dying happens so often.

At the time of writing, the achievement list is not yet available for the Xbox One version, but as far as I've made it into the game, the achievements match up for the Steam version that can be found here. If this list is the same for the One, the achievements will not be easy to finish because making BunnyLord "Global Megalord" will require the player to finish every single objective, and that will take some time and some serious skills. Also, three of the game's 12 achievements are for finding secret doors. While these are easy to get, they don't make a lot of sense in the overall scheme of things. Unlocking all of the characters, using all of the special weapons, dying by falling a certain number of times -- these types of achievements would have fit better than the random finding of three doors, which makes up a whopping 25% of the game's achievements (if the game indeed has 12 like the Steam list).

Summary

Not a Hero is a lot of fun with its cheesy humor and simple game mechanic, but players can expect to die A LOT in their bid to help BunnyLord gain global domination. The game quickly becomes quite difficult, especially for people new to shooters. With any number of ways to kill and die, the game has a good bit of variety, but running through buildings endlessly gets monotonous at times. Over half of the achievements can be picked up in the normal course of a casual game, but it will take a long time to 100% this one and you can expect to experience a lot of frustration along the way. Overall, it's a fun addition to your game library, especially for shooter fans who enjoy a challenge.
4 / 5
Positives
  • Fun cheesiness of the eighties
  • Plenty of challenges
Negatives
  • Frustratingly difficult at times
  • Could use a gentler learning curve
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent many hours shooting the baddies and getting killed in return and won 8 of the game's (probably) 12 achievements, making it into the third week of BunnyLord's mayoral campaign. A digital code for the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Cindy Minguez
Written by Cindy Minguez
Cindy has been writing for TA/TT for three years now and is the Assistant Manager of the Newshounds at TrueTrophies. She's an English instructor at a small college and considered a remarkably cool teacher for knowing all about Mass Effect, Skyrim, and Diablo III.