Iro Hero Review

Posted July 30, 2018 by Cody Rostron in Comic Books

Developed by: Artax Games

Published by: Eastasiasoft

Release Date: July 31st

Available on: Switch (Played on), Steam,

When I was young, my mom bought a bundle of classic games for my original Playstation, included in that bunch were games like Dig Dug and Pac Man But her favorite was Galaga. I remember watching her seemingly breeze past alien ships and cruise through each level. But when I tried to play it, I lasted maybe 15 minutes. Iro Hero brought back those memories of being slightly annoyed but with a tremendous amount of respect for those who can master this type of game. Iro Hero is a particular type of game, and to prove it the arcade mode has a blurb saying “A true arcade for true players.”

When researching the game before playing it, I read that it only had nine levels and thought to myself “Wow that doesn’t seem like a lot.” I figured this would be a quick playthrough; boy was I wrong. It took me a better part of the day to finish just one level. Now that might be to my inexperience or rust with verticle shoot’em up games, but almost every time I died, I knew what I had done wrong and needed to improve on. Eventually, I would make it a little bit farther each time, Iro Hero leans towards a memory game along side its arcade roots. Having to learn each pattern and obstacle ahead is essential to progress. Granted there are a few times when I died due to no fault of my own, but those are few and far between. Stepping even deeper into its retro nature the game has several power-ups that appear throughout each stage making you re-imagine what your strategy should be going into the next wave of ships.

The amount of energy that goes into anticipating what comes next is pretty intense. Your best bet is to keep shooting no matter what and don’t stop moving. The game does have a story and characters, but it’s tough to read there dialogue sometimes cause I’m just waiting for the next bunch of alien ships to shoot me out of the sky. The games art style is interesting. It sometimes looks fantastic with its intense and detailed backgrounds and other times the characters and cut-scenes look hurriedly put together with little care for those previous details. It feels like two art styles pinned together. The synopsis is simple enough, but a lot of the exposition comes in small white text while you’re trying to shoot down enemy ships. Humans have learned how to harness electricity and aliens are farming them for it. That’s the elevator pitch of it, but again I’ve seen that first cutscene so many times after dying that I skip it every time now. I can’t tell if Artax felt they needed to have a story or wanted to have a story.

The game feels a bit more floaty than you’d like, games like this need to be precise and attributing to those deaths that don’t feel like the player’s fault can usually be assigned to over correcting. The UI and menus look nice and simple. Its retro aesthetic looks cool but ships look somewhat generic. it just doesn’t mesh with the character illustrations. That being said you probably won’t play this game for the visuals. You’re probably playing it because you like arcade shoot’em ups and punishing difficulty.

The thing that tries to make this game stand out from other arcade shooters is the ability to switch colors at any moment to shoot down the different colored ships. It’s a neat tool to throw into an already intense gameplay loop. With other interactive elements like color zones and reflective surfaces. It starts off simple enough and before you know it you have to switch mid shot to take out the different types of ships. I would recommend playing with a pro controller or the Joy-Con controller it gets a bit cramped playing in portable mode. Only because you’re trying to make your button presses precisely. It isn’t a make or break deal; the game works just as well in portable mode maybe just don’t play it for long periods of time.

Overall the game has some solid controls and an addictive nature that lends itself to being replayed over and over again. That being said the shifting art styles and the difficulty might turn people away. Playing the game is a push and pull of frustration and triumph getting a little bit further each time also forget checkpoints those don’t exist. If you like vertical arcade shooters that take patience and dedication this game is for you. Otherwise, this game might push you away. Iro Hero does all the things that vertical shooters should do it just doesn’t do any of them exceptionally well.

About the Author

Cody Rostron

Writer, Graphic Designer, and Artist, But most importantly a huge nerd.