This fast-paced vertical shoot em up was developed by Artax games and Published by EastAsiaSoft. Set in the future, it sees an alien race called Nyagu that have taught humans how to create electricity from their own inner energy. However, this lesson came at a price as greedy humans have started to exploit their own race and are now farming humans for this energy source. There is also another alien race called the Re-Wu who are also looking to farm humans for energy. And so, a hero needs to arise to put a stop to it all. Then as the Re-Wu come to attack a power plant to kidnap humans, up steps Iro; a heroic pilot who wants to save his mother from the alien attack.
So, from the story which has hints of The Matrix about it comes the gameplay that in most ways is quite a standard vertical scrolling shooter with 16bit style graphics. But Iro Hero has a game mechanic to set it apart from some of the others in that you can switch the colour of your ship. This is important, as enemies come in two colours – red and blue. Whilst your ship is red you can hurt blue enemies and absorb red bullets. Your bullets will also not hurt red ships and vice versa when you are blue. So, this means throughout the level you will be constantly switching colours to attack the right enemies and to absorb the bullets which you may not have been able to dodge. Absorbing the bullets from the enemies also has another function, as when you have absorbed enough to power the special meter gauge you can fire your special Tesla shock weapon, taking out a lot of enemies on the screen at once.
But don’t let all these weapons and tricks fool you; Iro is still very hard and unforgiving. In the main story mode, you get 3 lives to tackle the level with and each life has 2 hit points…well, sort of. You can be hit by a bullet once before you lose a life but if you collide into an enemy ship you lose a life straight away. If you lose all 3 lives before completing the level, there is no continuing here. You will have to start the level from the beginning and do better next time. Yet the level and the enemy attack patterns are the same, so part of the way to completion is memorising the level. There are 9 levels to get through, and once you complete a level then you can start from that point on future playthroughs should you so wish.
Once you have completed the game there are a few other game modes to try extending the longevity. You have the normal mode described above, allowing you to have 3 continues to complete the whole game in one play through. You have the arcade mode for true players – you don’t get any continues and must to try and play through the whole game in a single sitting. There is also a harder setting still, but that needs to be unlocked, I am sure fans of the genre will relish the challenge mind.
Iro Hero is everything you expect with a vertical shooter in that it’s tough, fast-paced and repetitive. The extra mechanic of changing colour is fun to use, and it does test your reflexes and gives you a bit more chance of completing the game. There is not a great deal of content to keep you interested in the long haul, but it still a good enough game for you to jump in straight away and get going.