If Guy Ritchie ever made a 2D arcade action game it would probably look, sound and play a lot like Not A Hero, a bite-sized arcade action title by the folks over at Roll7, the creators of the skateboarding indie classic series Olli Olli. Not A Hero revels in its ridiculously irreverent “Landan cockney geezer son” swagger to the point where it threateningly comes close to sinking the whole experience into cringe worthy territory. However, is Not A Hero: Super Snazzy Edition’s slick, fast-paced gameplay enough to save the day or is this Roll7’s first career misfire? Let’s pull the trigger and find out…
An anthropomorphic rabbit from the future is running for mayor (Yeah, you read that right) and his name is Bunnylord. In a bid to take control of the city and fix the future, Bunnylord has tasked you with taking down the local gangs and drug empires vigilante-style. Not A Hero: Super Snazzy Edition pulls no punches – this is a bloody, violent, stylish bloodbath of a game.
Each mission is a short action vignette, which usually boils down to eliminating factories full of rent-a-goons, whilst also fulfilling an important mission-related task, such as assassinating a gang’s boss or turning on the power to one of Bunnylord’s election billboards which have unfortunately fallen into the wrong hands. There are also three randomly generated challenges per level. These range from collecting a certain number of bizarre objects (parrots or cakes, for example), to killing a certain number of criminals without getting hit, to performing a certain number of executions, to completing the level in a set amount of time. Satisfying the criteria to these challenges aren’t essential to complete the level, but they do give bonus points to help encourage high score-chasers to nail that perfect-feeling run.
As the game progresses you’ll unlock new characters – nine in total – and each character has unique abilities that they bring to the blood-soaked table. Samantha, for instance, can run and reload, run and shoot and can perform quicker executions, however, the rub with her is that she lacks accuracy. She also hails from Swansea, Wales and has a fitting regional dialect as she exclaims things like: “Over here boyo!” as she brutalizes her opponents. Very cute.
The gameplay is pretty straightforward stuff and takes place on a 2D plane within buildings which all look pretty much identical. The twist to the gameplay is that you can shoot from cover… within a 2D game. It takes a little getting used to but it’s thankfully a lot of fun learning the fluid, snappy rhythm of when to shoot, when to take cover and when to do both. Sliding into henchman and knocking them over and then executing them while they are defenceless on the floor is as delightfully satisfying as it sounds. At times, the game can feel just as exhilarating and gratifying as the game’s publisher Devolver Digital’s other indie action hit Hotline Miami. When you nail a level in one deliberately executed gauntlet of death – after dying repeatedly to the same handful of bastards who have stood in your way – Not A Hero feels great and tickles a similar sensation to Hotline Miami‘s hardcore risk-reward precision satisfaction.
There is a caveat, however: it’s just not quite as mechanically deep as Hotline Miami or Roll7’s last game Olli Olli 2. Sadly, there are moments when the game feels a touch repetitive and I occasionally felt like I was going through the motions, particularly in the later, more challenging levels, which is a real shame. Sure, Not A Hero does shake things up with a diverse selection of unique playable characters and the game does throw some different enemies at you, such as sword-wielding ninjas, SWAT teams and some other enemies that I won’t spoil for you here, but on the whole Not A Hero: Super Snazzy Edition can sporadically meander into shallow and repetitive territory. Essentially, the gameplay somewhat lacks that addictive, long-lasting secret sauce that Roll7 is renowned for.
The moment-to-moment gameplay is punctuated with a mixed bag of humour and dialogue, mostly delivered through Bunnylord’s incredibly annoying, incoherent voice which is translated and expressed via subtitles. Its very British, irreverent tone reminds me of the ridiculous and silly TV shows The Mighty Boosh or Look Around You, which sounds great on paper, but here it falls a little flat. If the writing was up to snuff, Roll7 would’ve had something really rather special on their hands.
Not A Hero: Super Snazzy Edition is an entertaining, 2D action game that goes straight for the jugular. It’s bloody and it’s gory and when the action is flowing smoothly, it really can become a wonderfully exhilarating experience. However, its engaging gameplay only carries it so far and it can unfortunately become a touch repetitive, particularly in the final act. Nevertheless, if you’re in the mood for a 16-bit Guy Ritchie style 2D shoot-em-up, you could do far worse than pulling the trigger on this one.
I just wish that Bunnylord had a less annoying voice.
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