STAFF REVIEW of 88 Heroes (Xbox One)

Tuesday, May 2, 2017.
by John Elliott

88 Heroes Box art The 8-bit style of gaming has had a huge resurgence over the past few years with quite a few hits and a whole lot of misses, so when one comes along it’s almost a crap shoot of what you’re going to get in the retro style genre of gaming. 88 Heroes is a new title brought to fans by developers Bitmap Bureau. They have taken their shot into the fray of 8-bit glory to see if it can attract old and new gamers alike.

88 Heroes is definitely a standard platformer on the surface as it has all the basics you would normally have in game found in the genre, which includes a lot of jumping, attacks, and of course untimely deaths. What makes this platformer stand apart is that you aren’t just one character, nor are you just two, as you play as 88 characters who happen to be some of the worst heroes in the world with some really bizarre powers.

The heroes range from a child who randomly turns into a monster, a cat that shoots lasers, a basketball player who can jump high and throw his ball, and of course a big bad ass with a sword. These are just a few of the 88 Heroes who have banded together to take on Doctor H8. Doctor H8 has pointed 88 warheads at Earth and has given the world a demand to pay him 88 Octillion dollars in 88 minutes or he will launch the warheads. This is where our ragtag heroes enter the fray as they work together using all of their unique abilities to solve 88 levels in those precious 88 minutes.

After I learned all that I could about this game it quickly became a must try and I jumped into the fray, and I have to admit that I died a lot to start off. With each death I got to play a new character which came with a bit of a learning curve as you have to figure out how you’re going to solve the particular level with their unique ability. Luckily, as you learn each of these 88 heroes abilities you collect some coins throughout the game, and if you collect 88 (Go figure eh?) of these coins you will be able to revive one of the heroes back into your arsenal.

I can say this game is quite challenging but it doesn’t incur the rage that I have with other platformers. It challenges you to make sure your heroes stay alive so you can complete the 88 levels within those precious 88 minutes that is for sure. Did I mention you only have 88 seconds to complete each level? Aside from learning each of the heroes abilities you find that the controls work really well and are intuitive if you played your share of platformers. If you haven’t don't worry as it is still easy to pick up.

Along with the 88 Mode you are further challenged with the Magnificent 8 Mode where you are graced with picking 8 of your favourite heroes to complete the challenges you barely did with 88. This was quite a challenge and I do admit I didn’t fare too well within this mode. Another challenge is Solo Mode where you pick just one hero and have 88 lives to complete the 88 levels, which on the surface seems a bit easier than the Magnificent 8 because you would obviously pick your best hero; however, having the variety of powers at your disposal does make the game infinitely easier.

Graphically, 88 Heroes is exactly as you would expect from the genre with the pixelated heroes and enemies moving throughout the screen. Of course there are the familiar platforming elements like traps, jumps and platforms scattered throughout the environment to create the challenge that is 88 Heroes.

Interestingly enough, the levels are viewed on a huge security monitor while Doctor H8 and his minions watch on and provide commentary. With this revival of 8-bit gaming I have gone back to play some of my favourite 8-bit games that I loved during my NES days. This led to me thinking to myself “How did I ever play these games?” Bitmap Bureau have done a wonderful job of taking the 8-bit history while putting a modern touch on the graphical presentation.

This also extends into the music and sound effects that heighten the world and helps the game deepen the atmosphere that oozes nostalgia. The upbeat tempo of the music carries you from level to level which interacts well with the variety of jumping sounds that each hero makes, along with the sound of swords, lasers, guns or a good ole fist to the face that completes this 8-bit experience. As I mentioned Doctor H8 does provide a bit of commentary, especially when you die as he doesn’t turn down a chance to mock you at your failings, but he will also sarcastically congratulate you on your victories. My favourite is when he gets mad at his minions for doing a horrible job trying to kill you.

Bitmap Bureau has done a top notch job of creating a game that provides you with the nostalgia of the golden age of gaming. They manage to bring their own twist with everything in the game revolving around the number 88, which seems a bit odd at first, but once you get into the game it is what makes it truly enjoyable and makes 88 Heroes stand apart from other platformers. I have to say that I am definitely looking forward to what Bitmap Bureau has to bring us next, perhaps an 88 Villains or 99 Heroes is around the corner.

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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