Games that come based on a movie or a television series – and vice versa – don’t usually turn out that well. There’s the occasional exception but for the most part, these games are often forgettable. OK K.O.! Let’s Play Heroes is based on the hit Cartoon Network show, but does it manage to stand out as an aforementioned exception? Or does it fall by the wayside? Unfortunately it’s somewhere in between. Let’s Play Heroes isn’t a bad game, let me make that clear from the get-go. However it’s not a game that goes above and beyond, nor does it even try to.
The story stars pint-sized hero K.O. and has you battling hordes of evil Boxmore robots as you venture on a quest to save Lakewood Plaza Turbo from the maniacal Lord Boxman. It’s as straight forward a plot as any given episode from the show, make of that what you will. It’s quite apparent that the game’s target audience is that of a player who doesn’t care about simplistic gameplay and a lack of any real difficulty. Combat for example, this is one aspect of the game that should be its strong-suit, but instead it just ends up hurting the overall experience.
The game boasts that you can level up your stats and unlock powerful new fight moves, as well as collect cards of Plaza characters to call them into battle. The problem here is that these elements of play never quite seem all too necessary. Sure, you’ll be able to defeat enemies much quicker than before once you get your hands dirty, but a progression system in any game needs a steady difficulty that gradually climbs alongside it. Let’s Play Heroes doesn’t build on that, inadvertently making the combat feel dull and repetitive as a result.
Enemies in the initial stages of the game are not tough, but they do take quite a bit of time and perseverance to take down. The illusion that you’re leveling up and becoming more powerful is taken from the fact that enemies go down faster later in the game. Combat is far too basic for its own good. You’re typically tasked with facing off against a range of different enemies in a 2D playing field. Enemies will come from the right and left of the screen, leaving you to bounce around them and put your combo-climbing skills into action. You can utilize a variety of attacks to keep your chain growing, but again, this is far too easy to juggle.
During combat your enemies will often use the same attack pattern, over and over again. You can evade attacks quite easily due to an overly generous jump height, only to slam back down to the ground and continue chipping away at your foe’s health. You can even hold your enemies in the air for long periods of time by dishing out standard attacks, and if you do drop them, it takes one single attack sequence to get them back up there. Mixing up your standards attacks is certainly satisfying at first, but that novelty does begin to wear thin when you’re fighting the same freaking enemy for the umpteenth time in a row.
The pow cards that you can collect helps to alleviate this repetitive play, but it doesn’t do much to make the game feel any more exciting. Pow cards are obtained by completing side-quests for whatever character you’re trying to unlock. You can equip a total of two cards at a time and you will indeed need to wait until they’re fully charged before you can use them. Once charged, you can call in these characters to briefly aid you in battle. While it is interesting to see what each character can offer, it hardly makes the game any less of a chore to get through.
The biggest issue that I have with Let’s Play Heroes is that it’s flat. Every selling point in this game has already been achieved better elsewhere, and there doesn’t appear to be any effort put forward to make this title stand out. The licence and theme alone will more than likely sell copies, but if you’re looking at this and hoping that it offers a definitive brawler experience, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Although well designed, this is an average cash-grab game at its finest.
When you’re not engaged in a battle with an enemy that you’ve already defeated several times over before, you’ll find yourself in the Plaza. This is the main hub and will gradually expand as you complete specific requirements. Much like the combat, this is a pretty standard affair. Players will be taking on a number of activities and side quests that all lean on the same gameplay structure. These activities are more often than not, fetch quests. You’ll be sent to chat with a specific character, take on a fight, visit a section of the Plaza, and so on and so forth.
It’s not particularly exciting, but it is nice to see sections of the Plaza slowly opening up to you as you proceed. The Plaza isn’t presented in the same way that combat scenarios are. Instead of being locked in a 2D field, you’re able to openly explore the surroundings and identify aspects from the show. I did quite enjoy the visuals and the design of the Plaza as it faithfully depicts the source material to a decent degree. After all, this game has been overseen by show creator Ian Jones-Quartey and features voice acting from the series regulars. Still, these few moments of appreciation are continuously slapped to the side by less desirable design choices.
The story mode will take north of six hours to complete, which isn’t a bad point when you take the cheap price tag into account. I really wish there was more to the game than what there is. The whole package just seems to be directly pointed at fans of the show, but almost alienates fans of the genre. The enemy variants are plentiful and the cast of wacky characters and unlocks helps to bolster the adventure, but not so much that it saves Let’s Play Heroes from its average and tedious gameplay functionality. When you’re done (or bored) of the campaign, you can dive into the arcade section.
This is your straight forward wave-based mode that sees you taking on a collection of foes, one after the other. The aim of this mode is to see how many enemies you can defeat and what high-score you can achieve. Being that this mode focuses on one of the weakest elements in the game, the combat, I cant wholeheartedly say that I was having a great deal of fun. It’s a good place to go if you want to sharpen your combat skills, but this is a game that rarely relies on anything other than button smashing as far as this is concerned. In any case, it’s once again a prime example of a bog-standard addition.
Ensuring that you always know what you’re doing you can take a peek at your journal. Here you can change some settings around as well as glance at your collected cards, rearrange them, and find out what your current objective is. I cant say that I ran into any issues with the performance of Let’s Play Heroes. Despite the occasional lengthy loading screen, the game runs well on all fronts. I really wanted to like this game more than I did. The bottom line here is that Let’s Play Heroes is a basic overly simplistic brawler that brags a solid licence, yet fails to achieve greatness with it.
OK K.O.! Let’s Play Heroes is a prime example of licence cash grabbing. It’s not a bad game, but it’s clearly an experience that focuses on fans of the show, inadvertently alienating fans of the game’s genre. There’s no depth and innovation within, leaving players with nothing more than a bog-standard brawler that does very little to excite or excel.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.