As previously seen here at Any Button Button, shoot-em-ups are plentiful. The genre is as classic as an Atari, yet as contemporary as KFC offering Vegan alternatives in 2020. (Seriously, look it up). Naturally, because it’s such a widespread genre doesn’t mean it is devoid of duds or games that don’t quite measure up as they could do. Which leads me nicely on to this review; Iro Hero.
Another entry from eastasiasoft, Iro Hero welcomes players in with familiar (see; nostalgic) pixelated graphics. The action is fast and furious as you’d expect. The developers even went as far as to include a story alongside the gameplay.
“So Far, So Good” You’ll Think to Yourself
Truth be told, it does look good on paper. Iro Hero even plays around with a reverse-polarity system to combat enemies, making it slightly more niche than other contemporaries.
Rather, the problem is in how Iro Hero delivers all of these features. The gameplay takes place in a trio of vertically-split screens, with your adventure taking precedence in the centre screen. Either side of you is information on your current performance (how many enemies defeated, types of ships defeated, etc).
Playing on the Switch in portable mode, this could be really handy or intriguing for players.
Played out on a big-screen console, the sides are merely just that; sides. You won’t find yourself staring at it for ages trying to see how many enemies you’ve beaten against how many you still have to go through for one simple reason; You won’t have enough time to check it out!
It gets worse as the aforementioned story that Iro Hero boasts (more of in a moment) plays out either side of you as well. Again, on a portable screen like on the Switch, that wouldn’t necessarily be an issue. When you’re also trying to dodge around bullets, enemies, or even the landscape, the story plays out to an audience of none!
Beautiful, Yet Flawed
Sure, there are inter-level cut-scenes, which are beautifully drawn and rendered for you to enjoy. However, it won’t be what brings you back to the game time and time again.
That would be the gameplay mechanics. As mentioned above, Iro Hero toys with a reverse-polarity system in combats. For the uninitiated, that simply means you need to change your ships weapon system from one to another to match your enemies. In Iro Hero, this takes the form of shifting from blue to combat red enemies, or red to fight blue enemies.
The puzzle/intrigue factor gets racked up a little bit when the game introduces purple and orange/yellow targets to aim for. Meaning you have to know your primary/secondary colour wheel off-by-heart.
As Promised, the Story;
“Year 2306. A century after the Nyagu taught mankind how to obtain electricity from their inner energy, enterprises started to exploit humans in farms to produce energy. What had formerly been a gift became a curse, reducing people to the condition of power supplies. Only when his mother dies in one of these farms Iro realizes he has got the power to change the order of things”.Iro Hero website
Even in comparison to other games in the genre, Iro Hero simply feels like it has something else it could give you. There are the usual modes to choose from and tackle, each offering different difficulties. Once you’ve completed it, there isn’t too much else to look forward to.
For anyone wondering, the game modes include;
- Arcade: The original vision for the game. No continues, but you can exchange some of your points for lives at the end of each level.
- Normal: A more accessible challenge. In addition to the possibility of exchanging points for lives, you also have 3 credits to continue the match from the same level you died.
- Story: The easiest mode. Once you finish a level, the next level gets unlocked and you can henceforth start the game from there.
- 1CC: The hardest challenge for the most hardcore players. No possibility of buying ships and no continues.
So, as you can see, the usual amount and types of gameplay options available. Iro Hero, therefore, is your typical shoot-em-up game. Unfortunately, this does not make it an easy game to get into owing to a lack of interesting options.
For hard-core fans of the genre, you’ll love it. The challenges presented are a great mix of puzzles and pew-pew-pews (I needed a “p” word, sorry). The polarity-driven fighting will have you constantly shifting and keeping on your toes. For everyone else, there isn’t a lot of reward for such high risks.
The one great point I can make about Iro Hero is that you could, feasibly, unlock every trophy/achievement within the first level. Great for all you trophy hunters, then!
For more information on Iro Hero, visit their website. Alternatively, you can follow them on Twitter or Facebook. For more information on eastasiasoft, check out their website. Iro Hero is available on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
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Iro Hero Review
- Overall - 5.5/105.5/10
Whilst not the easiest of genres to make a name for yourself in, the shoot-em-up has seen a fair few gleaming gems in its array. Iro Hero doesn’t quite stand up to some of its more polished contemporaries. That’s not to say it’s a ‘bad’ game, however. Rather, there are some points it does well, and others where it could do with being more refined. The story is acceptable (considering the genre, stories aren’t the main selling points), but falters on delivery. Overall, Iro Hero is a game that hardened veterans will thrive in, but newcomers will struggle to find their groove in.
ABG’s Senior Editor (News), YouTube content creator/streamer.