Gamers of a certain age will always have a soft spot for bad graphics. As much as I might love games with silky smooth graphics and amazing frame rates, I’m always gonna crack a grin when I’m playing a game that’s built on pixels. Half the reason I enjoy web comics like Diesel Sweeties is because of the glorious pixel art. So when I see an iOS game with retro graphics inspired by 16-bit gaming classics, I feel compelled to try it out. I had heard good things about Random Heroes, and decided to give it a spin.
What is it and what does it do
Developed by Ravenous Games, makers of the award-winning League of Evil, Random Heroes is a pixelated action platformer.
- 40 levels, 4 worlds, 24 characters, and tons of different weapons to try out
- Unlockable GameCenter achievements, plus iCloud game saves
- Responsive controls and charming retro graphics
- Awesome retro soundtrack that sounds like it’s straight out of the arcades (or possibly an early 90s home console)
- Some enemies take a surprising number of bullets to kill, especially in the early levels
- Your hero can be killed with just a few hits, a la Super Mario Bros
- Character and weapons prices seem set a bit high
I’m not usually a fan of virtual controls: my fingers and thumbs have a tendency to drift during gameplay. Plus, they aren’t always as precise as tilt-based controls. That being said, the simple virtual controls in Random Heroes are very responsive. It feels like playing on a classic NES system. Controls are limited to A (shoot) and B (jump/drop down), as well as left and right buttons.
Another thing that makes this game feel nice and retro-tastic is the level of difficulty. The levels are quite short, but they are still very challenging. Your character can be killed with just a few hits, which makes this game a bit difficult at times. This platformer reminds me of the original Super Mario, in all the right ways.
As you progress, you can collect coins that are lying around or released when you kill enemies. These coins can be used to upgrade to more powerful weapons. You can also buy different character avatars, from Honest Abe to an Indiana Jones-type character to a humble nun. I do wish these upgrades didn’t cost so much. Of course, you can buy in-game currency…but that sort of feels like slapping a Game Genie onto this retro-tastic game.
Conclusion and download link
Random Heroes is that rare pixel game that features both retro-style gameplay and the retro look that pixel fans crave. It’s just tough enough to be a challenge, without ever becoming frustrating. And if you like Random Heroes, there’s a sequel.
Version reviewed: 1.4
Requires iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch, iOS version 4.3 or later
Download size: 12.3 MB