Octagon with the wind
Eight is a great number. It rolls off the tongue nicely, it’s useful for jokes about why the number seven is a bastard to nine and it rhymes with hate. I love this number, which you can flop on its side and then gaze at how it how transforms into the infinite. It’s also a running theme throughout 88 Heroes, a game which loves the number as more than just a friend. When you’ve got a cephalopod-themed villain obsessed with all things octal, you know you’re in for a weird ride.
88 Heroes entire premise is simple enough: 88 stages, an 88 second time limit per level and 88 of the titular heroes to make use of. Heroes who sit on a spectrum of ability that ranges from mildly useful through to downright pointless. That’s the real charm of 88 Heroes however, as no mater the obstacle before you, there’s always that one hero waiting for a moment to shine.
It’s gloriously stupid stuff.
If you’re lucky, you could start a level with the time-stopping skills of Batbot or the wall-cracking sword of Gonan the Barbarian. If you’re unlucky or your chosen deity just straight up hates you, you’ll most likely fumble around with heroes whose powers include having a ladder or being able to fetch a frisbee with canine precision.
88 Heroes has a hell of a roster, a motley collection of would-be saviours in lycra who contribute to a system of gameplay that is sometimes classic platforming action and rogue-like experimentation, and most other times infuriating and relentless. That’s the charm of course, as navigating your way through a devious death-trap with the right hero will take a few tries. 87 tries in some cases as Doctor H8 watches on and never misses a chance to mock you.
The biggest stumbling block in 88 Heroes however is its own design at times. The entire idea of Doctor H8 keeping an eye on you is novel, but also a constant distraction until you can tune it out. Minions walk around on the screen, blocking that one pixel that you’re aiming for in a jump, character bios take up half of the screen real estate whenever you respawn and the Doctor has a habit of always chirping in at the worst possible time.
Not game-breaking stuff, but certainly annoying whenever it pops up. What 88 Heroes does have going for it in the long run however, is a unique premise that it leverages every possible second out of to create a fun and challenging experience. Try your luck with the Magnificent 8 mode and a randomiser, or just stick to the core game and it’s Raid-like setup of ascending a tower of escalating threats. Either mode isn’t just fun, but solid in its execution.
That’s kind of gr8.