88 Heroes (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

An evil supervillain has 88 missiles aimed at Earth ready to fire, and it’s up to 88 of the goofiest, most useless heroes to stop him!  88 Heroes is a silly 2-D platformer challenge available to download on PS4, Xbox One, and PC, but reviewed on PS4 here.

In the main story mode, you start out with a randomly selected hero out of 88.  If you die in that level, you’ll get another one, so the 88 heroes act as your ‘lives.’  Once you reach the end of the level, you’ll start the next with a new randomly selected hero.  At first you’ll just have to find a door, but in later levels you’ll have to locate keys to open the door first.  But you’ll have to hurry as each level is timed with only 88 seconds (catch a theme here?).

Each of the 88 heroes has his or her own special abilities and controls, so the challenge comes from rolling with the punches and adapting to each new character as you play.  Some can defend themselves with firepower and swords, while others can double jump or even fly.  Many of the heroes are parodies of other video game characters.  My favorite is a pink dinosaur who looks like the ones from Bubble Bobble, except this one shoots out bubbles from his butt!  Others include “Veronica Vortex,” who has a portal gun, “Boost Goose,” a goose in a spaceship that can fly and controls like the Asteroids ship, “Retro Reptile,” a snake who moves like the classic game “Snake,” “Cath Letics,” who controls like a Track and Field character, and “Bat Bot,” a flying bat robot.  When the bat robot stops moving, all the enemies stop as well, so it reminds me of controlling characters in a dungeon crawling RPG.  With 88 heroes, there’s no way I can list them all, but you get the idea of the variety.

Aside from Story Mode, you can also unlock an 8 Hero Mode where you can select 8 of your favorite heroes to try and make it as far as you can.  There is also a solo mode where you just have one hero.  Collect enough coins in the levels and you can choose one fallen hero to revive.  The action is viewed in a 2-D 8-bit pixel style, but you see it on a screen in the villain’s lair as he watches the action and makes comments and taunts when you die.  After each world he’ll come down and fight you in a boss battle.  I think my favorite thing he says when watching you on the TV is when one of his minions offers him tea with sugar, and he says in his deep voice, “No thanks, I’m sweet enough.”

I think the only problem I had with this game is that it is unfairly difficult.  When you start a level, they’ll give you a brief description of the hero and his or her control scheme, but it’s not always helpful.  Sometimes I would die because I didn’t realize that particular hero’s weapons could hurt them as well, and some heroes just flat out control badly on purpose.  But this is one of those “Just for laughs” kind of games, so if you don’t mind dying a lot at first, you’ll definitely get some fun and chuckles out of this title.

Kid Factor:

88 Heroes wasn’t rated by the ESRB quite yet when I wrote this review, but I imagine it would get an E or E-10 rating.  You can hit enemies with guns and swords, and get zapped by lasers and explosions.  But when anyone dies, they just fall apart into pixels and explode into confetti, so the violence is just Looney Tunes cartoony stuff.  Reading skill is helpful for the text, and younger gamers may get frustrated at the higher challenge level.

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