NOT A HERO: Super Snazzy Edition Review
There will come a time in every gamers life that they will have this one singular thought: “I wish I could take the side-scrolling, 2D action of games from yesteryear and incorporate all the brutality and attitude of today’s games”
Luckily for all the gamers out there publisher Team17 have made that dream a reality for gamers on Xbox One. That dream comes in the form of side scrolling, tactical shooter NOT A HERO: Super Snazzy Edition.
The general premise of the game is a simple one: you are one of many foot soldiers in the employ of BunnyLord, an anthropomorphic purple rabbit who has come from the future. Your goal is to do the Bunnylord’s bidding (mostly killing things and blowing things up).
The gorgeous retro pixel art style is reminiscent of early Super Marion or Megaman – but this is a style as you remember it, not as it actually was. There’s real style and depth, with bright vibrant colours making you not want to peel your eyes away from the screen for a second. As your character runs left and right, takes cover (this is at heart a 2D cover shooter) or hides in the shadows, you can’t tear your eyes from the screen.
The audio is also something to cherish, matching the cheesy storylines and 80s action movie stylings perfectly; the hollow clank clank of a clip as the last few bullets are expended lets you know it’s time to strike as your enemy hurriedly scurries for cover, or drop back and reload. Audio and visuals combine perfectly throughout the game to great effect – the Bunnylord’s rousing speech is a nonsensical honking noise, subtitled naturally.
Completing tasks for your mighty master earns you a rating – and invites you to replay to improve your performance. King of England is an exemplary ranking, of course, but why wouldn’t you push for Global Megalord? At least that’s what you’ll tell yourself when you hit Restart for the 18th time.
One of the most satisfying things about NOT A HERO is how easy it is to pick up and play. Its short, sharp levels are perfect to fill half an hour, whilst intuitive controls mean you can pick up and play straight away. NOT A HERO uses a grand total of four buttons – keeping it old school. Movement is on the d-pad (or analogue), whilst actions are on the face buttons (or triggers, if you must). Nothing in the generation feels so much as though you should be playing on a SNES pad.
Whilst much of the design is designed to evoke nostalgic love, the level of graphic violence on display is distinctly 21st century. The humour too – which doesn’t always hit the mark – is distinctly modern, too, touching on the surreal. And Bunnylord’s twisted side isn’t the first indication that this game isn’t all that it seems.
Playable characters – there are a total of nine – are unlocked by progressing through the game, each more crass than the last. It’s important to learn each character though, as they all behave slightly differently. Some can move and reload, some are fast but have limited ammo, some are slow but tooled up. These quirks define how you’ll play, but more often than not you’ll be tackling levels methodically rather than blasting through.
There is a truly astounding level of violence on display here – in any other style it would feel over the top. However, the ridiculous premise and 8-bit art style wraps the whole thing up in a gentle cocoon of absurdity.
NOT A HERO is undoubtedly a fun experience. Its simple pick up and play mechanics means it can be played in short bursts, or in longer sessions if you are hunting down those objectives. The charming visual style and bouncy soundtrack are offset perfectly by the surreal storyline and graphic violence. A molotov melts one enemy while another loses his head from being at the wrong end of an angry Scotsman’s shotgun, all depicted in bright and cartoony visuals.
The development team has nailed the balance between old school and new school – as perfectly demonstrated in the design of your the Bunnylord’s enemies. There’s very little else that screams modern British society than fighting Upgraydd’s gang in Bredrin Park. Upgraydd’s gang are (not so affectionately) referred to as rude boys by shotgun-wielding Cletus, and you must try to avoid or annihilate them while they harass you for a “Quid for the bus” all the time searching for a bomb to destroy their reserves of “Dank Weed.” Brilliant.
Far be it from us to tell you how to spend your money but NOT A HERO is definitely worth the asking price – and is even better value for money if you pick it up as part of the Bunnylord Pro Hater Pack which includes NOT A HERO: Super Snazzy Edition and OlliOlli2 Welcome to Olliwood XL Edition (check out our review of that game).
NOT A HERO: Super Snazzy Edition is available from 24 May from the Xbox Store, priced £9.99. The Bunnylord Pro Hater Pack will set you back £14.99.
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