Double Kick Heroes is a tricky musical rhythm game for rock, metal and heavy metal fans. Since the introduction of gaming instruments, rhythm games have been dominated by playing popular tracks to make you feel like part of a band. Now you no longer need an instrument to play along and instead of playing for the music, you are playing for your lives. So, in this 8-bit graphical style, you must play along to some great metal tracks by accomplished artists.
You play the part of a metal band who have been practising for months to put on a show. But when they finally perform, and the light hits their roaring fans are not what they seem. They are now zombies wanting to eat your brains and have no interest in your music. So, you exit the gig and head for your modified car called the Gundillac, a car with guns attached to the drums which fire bullets as the drums are struck. So as the zombies, wild animals and crazed survivors hunt you down, the band plays their metal jams so the cars guns keep the enemies at bay. You are in the middle of a zombie apocalypse and you need to find a way to the Resistance. Along the way, you see some dialogue with many rock culture and movie references. There are also friendly NPC’s you meet along the way who seem surprisingly familiar to rock fans.
The gameplay very much a standard rhythm game. You hit the note with your button as the glowing notes flow through the highlighted square that scrolls horizontally across the bottom of the screen. But with no instruments, they have utilised the controller to get the most out of the game. You have your tutorial level to get a feel for how it all works and to sort out any latency that some TV’s have with rhythm games. But Double Kick Heroes have tried to inject some variety into the genre. Rather than just being a rhythm game, they have added elements of a shooter to the mix which has varied success.
This is done by you having the A and B button as your main gun drum snares. The A button fires the left lower gun on the car and the B is the right side higher main gun snare. Both A and B can be used to hit the snare note flowing across the bottom. So, you need to consider aim when pressing the button. The enemy horde will start to catch up to the car, so you need to mix up the buttons to make sure you take out all the groups of enemies. For increased difficulty, you can hit cymbal notes which show as a separate set of buttons on the controller which can be customised for your preference. But if that wasn’t enough you can also take control of the car to move it up and down to make sure you are hitting all the enemies.
Now you don’t have to have the cymbals included if you find it too much and you can also set the car to move automatically if you struggle with the multiple tasks that are asked of you. You also get a bonus for consistently hitting the notes without missing any. Your normal gun progresses to a shotgun and eventually to a canon if you managed to get to the highest streak. This obviously makes it easier to take out hordes of enemies, so maintaining the streak is important. The game will also tell you off if you just mash the buttons so you can’t be crafty either.
There are a variety of game modes and options to play the game exactly how you want. If you just want a gentle experience but enjoy the music, you can turn the enemies off and just have a slower beat to have to match. Alternatively, you can ramp up the difficulty and include the cymbal track as well. The speed can be turned up also meaning you will have to hit a lot of notes in quick succession. This alongside having to steer the car will make completing the level almost impossible except for the more dedicated players.
The execution for me I find a little bit off as I was an avid Rock Band fan during its pomp. Depending on the instrument you had you felt the note you were playing as you hit them.. So, the transfer to a controller doesn’t feel that comfortable for me. I also don’t get the same feeling that I am playing the drums as hit the notes. When you add the cymbals into the mix it shouldn’t make it as difficult as it does, but I really struggled with it. I didn’t even attempt to move the car as well as it couldn’t grasp the cymbal track well enough.
Double Kick Heroes is a decent rhythm game with plenty of challenge and is considerably tricky to master. It has a fun zombie story line with a nod to Romero’s classics. The metal tracks are decent to listen to if you are a fan of the genre, and it is fun to play along to at the correct difficulty level. It probably would have been easier to play with a makeshift instrument device, but the experience isn’t lessened by playing with a controller.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.