I Am The Hero
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Release Date: 30 November 2018 (US)
Reviewed by Josh Brant
I have a fondness for the beat ‘em up genre with some of my best video game experiences including such classics as Streets of Rage 2, X-Men Arcade, and Simpsons Arcade; as well as more recent titles such as Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World and Coffee Crisis.
The Nintendo Switch has renewed my love for brawlers and developer Crazyant is throwing their hat into the ring with I Am The Hero, published by Ratalaika Games. I don’t think it hits the heights of some of the best in the genre, but I still had a fun time stringing together attack combos and mowing down thugs.
Combo It Up!
I Am The Hero is a 2D side-scrolling beat ‘em up title with a lot of retro inspiration and a unique camera perspective. You are on a 2D plane, but a lot of times the camera is tilted or there are other effects in play that give it an interesting aesthetic which make the game stand out from other titles in the genre.
There is a system in play where when you beat a level you can choose to either gain a new skill or a new character to play as. You can only have one extra character at a time, so any new additions will replace the one you currently have - unfortunately there’s no way to select one of the characters you have already unlocked between levels either.
This can be troubling if you’ve drawn a character you don’t particular like as you can only switch to that character and may lead to some increased difficulty in the level you are on.
You can play either single or local multiplayer, though the multiplayer only unlocks once you earn one of these second playable characters. If you’re playing two-player, the second player will take control of the unlocked character.
In single player, losing all your health will result in you taking control of that second character, with their own health bar and EX meter. So this character essentially ends up working like an extra life, and once both characters die it’s game over, though you can continue from any previously unlocked checkpoints.
Only One Can Be The Hero
Each stage is broken up into multiple segments and every time a new segment starts, new enemies will come in to try and end you. The best part of I Am The Hero is definitely the combat, and specifically its enjoyable combo system. You are able to punch, kick, use special moves, knock enemies into the air and knock them down, and any combination of these moves will allow you to build up well over a hundred hit combos before you make it to the end of a segment. The secondary characters all have unique moves which are fun to try out, but it makes it more difficult to rack up larger combos.
There are also two challenge modes where you can upload your score to online leaderboards. I liked one challenge mode in particular where you had to take on wave after wave of baddies, and another which is timed to see how quickly you’re able to defeat an enemy.
My main gripes stem from not having enough invincibility time when knocked down, meaning the enemy can continuously have you locked in combos with no way to attack or dodge back. Also, even though there are the multiple difficulties for replayability, the main game itself is short, only taking about two to three hours to complete.
Can You Save Us?
For the most part, level design and enemy types are wonderfully made, with the pixelated graphics making stunning visual contrasts. There’s one boss I especially thought was neat to play against, as he was a rapper with physical manifestations of words that attacked you. Most of these bosses are fun to take on, though a few enemy types are annoying to deal with, such as ones that jump around like frogs making them a nightmare to hit.
In typical beat ‘em up fashion, I Am The Hero unfortunately isn’t long enough to keep you engaged for hours and hours on end, though with multiple unlockable characters to earn, challenge modes and difficulty settings, you’ll get more than your money’s worth out of the experience. It is, for sure, not a slow-paced game with break-neck speed being maintained throughout, and mastering the combo system is essential if you want to beat the later levels.
Overall, I Am The Hero is a fun, fast-paced brawler that has an intuitive combo system and a different perspective that makes it a unique offering in the genre. For those that can get into the combo system, there’s a lot of enjoyment to be had if you can look past the repetitive nature of the combat. It can be rewarding to take on harder difficulties once you’ve gained some mastery, and pulling off those combos at higher levels is even more satisfying.
Pros & Cons
+ Combo system is intuitive and fun
+ Pixelated art style is gorgeous
+ Great retro music
- Short game length
- Combat can become repetitive
- Enemies can easily exploit you