What do you get if you cram a plethora of superheroes into a single platforming game? You get 88 Heroes, or as this Nintendo Switch version calls itself, 88 Heroes: 98 Heroes Edition. Do all the heroes come together to make an everlasting impression on players, or will they try squeezing through the same doorway only to never make it through? Eh…It’s more-or-less the latter.
The story is a by-the-numbers superhero plot. There’s this big bad guy named Dr. H8, and he’s threatening to destroy the world if he doesn’t get paid $88 Octillion. 88 heroes venture off to save the world from his grasp as they traverse through 88 floors of his evil lair. It’s a premise that doesn’t take itself seriously by any means, especially considering the kinds of heroes that the game throws in to the action.
I thought the presentation was fun and cartoon-like. The playing field of 88 Heroes is displayed on Dr. H8’s computer monitor, and there are cute touches that occur within the room. In the actual levels, however, the visuals are comparatively devoid of anything really interesting. It looks a lot like League of Evil due to the blocky designs of each level; while it gets the job done, it doesn’t look impressive by any means.
There’s not much in the way of scores, but what’s there is upbeat and the voiced one-liners are a real Saturday morning treat (The slight muffle effect also gives it somewhat of an ’80s feel). I especially love the lines spoken by Dr. H8 whenever a hero is killed; the hammy delivery almost helps alleviate the pain of losing the hero in question. Almost.
88 Heroes is a 2D platformer where you have to go through 88 levels, each within 88 seconds. You are randomly provided with one of the 88 heroes as someone to play as through the duration of the level – unless the hero dies. Said hero gets swapped out for another after either event. On paper, it’s an intriguing concept. After all, each hero has something to offer, and the heroes themselves look like they belong in a line of action figures. There are even a few heroes that derive from other games as references.
Cute as these things may be, however, 88 Heroes has a weird habit of making simple levels become annoying to overcome. Because the chosen hero is totally random, you have to relearn basic mechanics every time you start a level. Sometimes, you can’t even do that because a function could actually end up being the difference between life and death. Cheap shots are everywhere in these otherwise bland levels, whether they be obstacles you can’t avoid in time or projectiles that players can easily kill themselves with by accident. To top it off, if you lose all your heroes, your only other option is to restart the level with just the last one you’ve used.
Overall, 88 Heroes: 98 Heroes Edition isn’t easy to swallow. You would have to tolerate a lot to enjoy the most of it. There is certainly potential for a much better game, but the execution doesn’t really do it enough justice. It’s got a sense of humor, but not quite a sense of consistently gratifying game design.