Bitmap Bureau's "88 Heroes" for the PS4 is the epitome of 80's geek culture done up in retro gaming fashion. Through deviously difficult gameplay, action packed 2D platforming levels, and 88 playable heroic misfits you'll see various hints of 80's entertainment culture scattered about in pixel form. Character designs included in the generational mash-up mock everything from 80's action and horror movie icons to video game characters from the 8bit era, and even computer references that only geeks will get, among other things. All of which is implemented in a unique theatrical way seen through the televised spy monitor, and commentary inclusive perspective of the game's main villain, "H8". A display in which you control, and use each of the randomly placed 88 heroes as well as their abilities, or lack thereof.
As far as objectives go you have a set time of 88 minutes to get through 88 levels, and stop H8 from doing his devilish deed. There are all sorts of enemies, and environmental hazards to face as you play through one of the games three modes. Those modes being the standard "88 heroes" inclusive playthrough, and two unlockable modes where you tackle the same obstacles with only one (Solo) to eight (Magnificent 8) heroes that are personally selected by you. While the levels themselves aren't randomly generated you will find in the base, and eight character modes that the heroes themselves provide that rogue-like element of surprise. It's an experience that will have you laughing at the ridiculousness of it all as well as crying when you realize how hard it is to beat.
During my playthrough which included a near completion of the "88 Heroes" mode, and the "Magnificent 8" mode I took note of the character bios that appear in the form of textual pop-up windows as well as the voice acted character specific dialogue. It was a treat going back down memory lane trying to figure out what each hero was a parody of. Some were more obvious than others while there were a handful that were a mixture of various pop-culture references of the same sort. If you were a child of the 80's or perhaps even a teen back then you'll no doubt find yourself reminiscing about those days of old as you play. I personally liked the humor that Bitmap Bureau implemented. It could be considered slapstick, or even a tongue-in-cheek style comedy, but it made me laugh out loud despite me dying numerous times over things I know I could have avoided if only I were a little more careful.
The level design throughout the game's entirety is a virtual work of genius. The levels, in particular are brilliantly made, and are a proper homage to those challenging Metroidvania style 2D platformers of the past. They usually provide multiple paths to an end exit with the purpose of keeping you guessing as to which direction is the best approach. Of course you also have to factor in your current heroes wacky ability, or lack thereof as you attempt to make progress. Sometimes these abilities will get you to the end quicker, and sometimes they'll slow progress indefinitely. It's something, as the PR said, that is both fun to watch and fun to experience first hand.
Without spoiling too much more I will say that at this point this is definitely a game I'd recommend. At the $14.99 price for the digital edition, and the $19.99 price for the physical edition which includes some extra in-game content it's not a bad buy at all. With that being said though this is a preview article, and supposing it has caught your attention you might want to stay tuned on the release date in March for my full review, and detailed breakdown of the game. Until then don't forget about what I said regarding, "88 Heroes"! Later Dudes & Dudettes!