My initial thoughts on Gnomic Studios’ Square heroes was ‘where that I’ve seen this before?’, there was a nagging that this game was familiar but I couldn’t place it until I started playing through the tutorial. Worms, the bold colours, the cute demeanour of the main character while he batters his not so square enemies made me think of my childhood playing worms. But there was something different the map layout with its floating islands also reminded me of another game, Towerfall Ascension. Mash the cartoon graphics and the guns from worms with the chasing of your enemies around a 2D map that is Towerfall and you have Square heroes.
The controls are a little difficult to handle, not because there are too many buttons to press but because using 2 analogue sticks to do 2 different functions takes a little time to rap your head around. The rest of the controls are basic and easy to use which is great but twiddling that second thumb stick can be costly when you have limited ammunition. For me that made the whole floating around and shooting things very frantic but not in a good way I felt that I was concentrating too hard to really enjoy what this game had to offer. That being said it still was enjoyable to play.
The graphics are vibrant and cartoonish and I can’t help but compare them to the Worms games. The changing facial expression of your square crusader are childishly funny, the look of effort on his face as you aim your rubber chicken ready to strike is amusing. The floating land layout is also reminiscent of the Worms games but also Towerfall, and I think these types of graphics are perfect for this combination. The contrast between the characters floating through the map and the back ground make it easy to spot your next victim.
Sound wise the game is good, the sound effects fit with the game but they do sometimes fade into the background as you concentrate on trying to win. One thing that caught my attention was the scream of suicide when you accidentally kill yourself, it’s out of place and not needed, a cheeky OH HO would be a better fit. On the whole the sound is good the still fits the overall cartoonish nature of the game, it’s upbeat and fun but can be drowned out by the abuse you will hear from the rival sofa as you batter each other to death.
Single player game play is good but once you have played through all the game modes game play can get a bit stale this isn’t a reflection on the game itself it is more a reflection on the type of genre the game falls under. The game works best in local multiplayer, when you and you friends can face off and insult each other while being in close proximity. There are single player, online multiplayer and local multiplayer for you to get to grips with. There are various different game mode ranging from simple death match to team gnome stealing. Team gnome stealing is exactly like capture the flag. When you start a single player game you start with a short tutorial teaching you the controls and showing you what to do and how to progress through the game buy upgrading your weapons. Each time you start a new game you get given the chance to change your loadout, you always start off with a bashy object of some kind which means that the very start of the game is a level playing field. This is great because it give the newer players to the game a chance to better the seasoned veterans.
As you advance through the game you unlock new weapons for your battles and you also unlock new hats for your square heroes. There is a nice character customization option in the game allowing you to change the colour of your hero and also which hat you want to wear. The weapons you unlock come in 3 different categories primary, secondary and special, as you unlock new weapons they will become available to you in the loadout screen just before the game starts. During game play you have a set amount of health and ammunition, but scattered throughout the map there are health and ammo boxes for you to break and replenish your supplies, as well as a special mystery box that will reward you with a random prize.
Square Heroes is a well-rounded package that lends itself best to playing with friends. The game will appeal to all gamers both older and young. But the single player will appeal more to the younger generations, whereas the local multiplayer will appeal more to the older gamers there is something that only an older gamers will understand about finding joy from seeing the look on someone face as you killed them with a rubber chicken.
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