88 Heroes Review

By Megan Walton,
Lots of people have a favourite or lucky number, but sometimes numbers can be a little more sinister (take the film, The Number 23 for example). I'm going to take a wild guess and say the people at Bitmap Bureau have a fondness for the number 8 (or 88), because never has a number shown up more in a game than in their most recent release, 88 Heroes. A side scrolling platformer with a twist, 88 Heroes is not the story of the best heroes that the world has to offer; it's a story about the weirdest heroes that it has to offer.

88 Heroes 2Hey, you in the front! Sit down!

At the eighth minute of the eighth hour, on the August 8th 1988, Dr. H8 is attacking earth. He's pointing 88 warheads at us and the only thing that will stop these being fired is to give the good doctor 88 octillion dollars, which is not going to happen. Unfortunately, all the best superheroes that would normally fight off this kind of bad guy were busy, so it's up to the 88 weirdest and most pointless superheroes to rise to the challenge and take down Dr. H8 for good. It's a typical saving the earth, good guy vs bad guy type of story, but it offers a new twist by using everyday and less impressive heroes.

You begin the 88 mode first of all, which is where the story lies. After you have completed that, you will unlock solo and Magnificent 8 mode as well. In 88 mode, you have the full roster of heroes available to use, whereas Magnificent 8 allows you to pick only eight. Solo mode, unsurprisingly, allows you just one hero, although you have 88 lives with which to complete the mode. All of these modes are essentially the same and this might feel like a cop out, but they also offer you more of a challenge should you want it and encourage you to change your style of play in order to preserve your heroes and their lives. The less heroes and lives that you have, the more precious they become; getting to the end with less bodies and lives is where the game becomes tougher. The game does give you a hand, though, by scattering small and big coins across the levels. If you collect 88 of these then you can revive one of your dead heroes, taking the pressure off and giving you extra incentive to explore the level thoroughly.

88 Heroes 6Avoid lasers, enemies, spikes, explosions, and everything the game throws at you

There are 88 levels to complete, split into four areas with 22 levels each. You have 88 seconds in which to complete each level, which is a generous amount of time; you'll only be struggling when you get towards the end of the game, because if you don't do a level in the time limit, your hero will die and you'll go back to the start. The platforming nature of the game means you'll spend a lot of time running, jumping and killing enemies. The levels are short enough that you'll always want to just try one more, yet they're still challenging enough to stop you in your tracks once or twice. First, you'll just have platforms and doors to deal with, but you'll soon need to find keys for the doors and avoid swinging axes, spikes, teleporters and a whole bunch of different enemies. Each of these obstacles provides you with a new challenge to overcome, as does Dr. H8 himself, who you will come face to face with every 22 levels. Taking him down is a fairly quick process involving buttons and rockets, but it is a change from the platforming and helps the transition between areas.

There are 88 heroes in the game, obviously, and you will soon acquire your favourites. There is a huge diversity of characters, some of whom are obviously modelled on real life heroes and characters. You've got everything including a dog with a Frisbee, a mad scientist, a hamster in a ball, Conan, a woman flipping a coin, a panda who goes backwards and a bouncy bit of goo — the list goes on and on. Finding out what each hero can do is part of the fun. Every time you start a level you are told how to move your character and what special move(s) they have, if any. Some of the names are obvious plays on words (the panda that has reversed controls for example is called Wong Wei) and some of them are a little close to the knuckle, but overall you couldn't ask for a better list. The variety is truly fantastic and is one of the game's best selling points, but here also lies a big problem with the game.

88 Heroes EnemiesA space duck in a glass helmet....what more is there to say?

Some of the characters have no weapon, some have a weapon that is almost useless and some are literally completely useless. If you play on 88 mode, you don't know which hero is coming next and sometimes you just don't have the appropriate character for the level ahead. Maybe the level needs someone who can shoot a gun to take out enemies in your way, or maybe it needs a character that can fly. Unfortunately, the only way to counteract this is purposefully kill your hero and just hope your next hero is someone better. If your last hero dies then you have unlimited continues to carry on the game, but you will only have the single last hero with one life to try and get to the end. This can work in your favour if your last hero was someone good, or you can be left with no other option than to restart if your last hero was someone less than helpful. It's simply the luck of the draw and you can't really influence which hero the game is going to throw at you next.

The game has an obvious retro vibe with the pixelated graphics and sidescrolling platforming gameplay. The game is played as if you are in a giant arcade machine, with Dr. H8 and his minions in the foreground of the screen trying to put you off. This can be through simply walking across the screen or even accidentally pulling the plug and causing a blackout. These may sound like annoying distractions but they serve as part of the game's charm, and it's amusing to see Dr. H8 shoot the head off a robot for offering him some tea. An upbeat soundtrack accompanies the game; it fits in well with the retro theme for which the game is aiming and manages to achieve very well. The graphics don't detract from the game at all and everything runs clearly and smoothly with no lagging or jumping. Occasionally a character continued to move after pressing the button, which caused a death on more than one occasion. This was a minor issue at the time but could provide more significant depending on where it happened.

88 Heroes EnemiesHow many times do I have to tell you, I DON'T LIKE TEA!

In terms of achievements, there aren't many for you to earn but it is still a fairly tough completion, and potentially a long grind if the game doesn't work in your favour. There are a few gimme achievements, such as completing your first room and killing your first enemy. Things get harder, though, as you must complete each of the three modes all the way to the end. The hardest achievements will be for completing 88 mode with either 16 or 8 heroes left, both of which will be a struggle. It is definitely a doable list, but it will take a while and also a little bit of luck

Summary

88 Heroes is a game that tells the same old saving the earth story but in a unique way. With 88 heroes on offer here, each time you play the game you'll get something different, be it good or bad. The 88 levels themselves are quite short but are more than challenging enough, especially as you get nearer the end. Unfortunately, some of the heroes are literally useless and make it almost impossible to get through the level without them facing an untimely death. Aside from that, and a few control issues, the game is 88 kinds of fun and offers plenty of replayability if you want to earn all of the achievements.
8 / 10
88 Heroes
Positives
  • Huge roster of unique heroes
  • Short but challenging levels
  • Fun and retro look to the game
Negatives
  • Some heroes are useless for certain levels
  • Minor control issues
Ethics
The reviewer spent approximately 6 hours killing baddies, completing levels and seeing the number 8 way too many times, unlocking 34 of the game's 36 achievements along the way. An Xbox One code for the game was provided by the ID@Xbox team for the purpose of this review.
Megan Walton
Written by Megan Walton
Megan is a TA newshound and reviewer who has been writing for the site since early 2014. Currently working in catering, she enjoys cooking extravagant dishes, baking birthday cakes for friends and family in peculiar shapes, writing depressing poetry about life and death, and unlocking every achievement possible.