Let’s Play Heroes…Really does have you playing heroes!
If someone had told me that this past week I’d be spending 90% of it on my PlayStation 4, beating up random robots called Shannon, Darrell and various other names, as well as enjoying a TV-show turned video game… I’d have laughed and ignored you completely.
But that is what happened and, to be honest, I’m not sure how.
O.K K.O.! Let’s Play Heroes is a smash em up brawler that’s based on the American cartoon from Cartoon Network. The main protagonist is a lovable little guy called K.O who tries his best to be a hero of the Plaza like all his other friends, in hope that one day he’ll get his very own POW card. POW cards are given to everyday people in order to show off what level they are, hero-wise.
Though when you have heroes, you’ll also have enemies. This is where Lord Boxman, owner of Boxmore comes in… His always hated the Plaza (where KO and all your friends hang out) because he sees friendship as a weakness. Though he takes it to the next level in this game when he turns all your friends POW card levels to zero.
And that’s where our adventure begins!
A cast full of delightful characters for you to enjoy!
Meet Enid, voiced by Ashley Burch who is really, really (no I mean, REALLY) great. While she appears to be the lazy teen behind the counter, she, like many of the characters you’ll meet in this game, offer a lot more than meets the eye.
Throughout the game, you’ll meet all in the Plaza that KO values. From Enid to Rad, another slacker in Gar’s bodega where KO works, to Gar himself (KO’s boss) and KO’s other friends such as Denny, a robot who everyone accepts as one of them. But the character closest to KO, and the one I felt really close to throughout my time playing was none other than Carol, KO’s mom.
KO himself is super lovely to play. He’s enthusiastic and cares about his friends, he’s funny and genuinely a likeable hero – so his relationship with his mom really hits home to me. While not good at everything, he’s easily the guy everyone goes to when there’s a problem and his mom encourages his behaviour because she see’s the good in him even before the events of the game.
…I’m not wiping tears from my eyes, you are!
But seriously. I didn’t expect such depth when it came to KO’s friends, I honestly just thought it was going to be a badly made, smash-em-up brawl with gags and shallowness that I’ve come to associate with video games based off cartoons like this.
I was wrong. So very wrong. Yeah, it’s funny. Yeah, it’s got some gags and puns that are clearly meant for children. And yeah, while some of the animations can be jarring (the lip sync in this is terrible, just awful,) it doesn’t make me regret playing it.
But even beyond that, are the characters or narrative shallow? No. Not. At. All.
Moving on from how ridiculously good the cast is, let’s talk about some serious stuff like GAMEPLAY.
So to do that, I’ve got to mention these little beauties up above. These are the POW cards I mentioned earlier, and if you’ve watched Yu-Gi-Oh you’ll know that if you play a card down then the monster from the card appears too. Yeah, well, O.K K.O! Let’s Play Heroes does this as well – apart from these monsters are your darling friends and family.
How to activate these cards (the maximum being two characters per loadout) is by filling up their character cards during fighting your robotic enemies. Or getting your ass kicked by them, either one works. Once you’ve managed to do this, press the triangle or circle button (or vice versa) and the character of your choice will perform their ‘Powie Zowie’, aka their special move, and help you take out the trash!
The blend of real-time combat along with inserting in other characters and their moves to beat up your enemy is tremendously satisfying, especially when you spam both circle and triangle and both characters are involved in unleashing epic showdowns. What’s more, the combat is challenging even for me, who really digs a good brawler game like this one. I struggled more than a few times, so it’s easy to see why the Powie Zowie cards were brought to help with balancing issues.
That said the combat can get tiring after a while. I found myself avoiding some of the Boxmore robots that descended from the skies, unable to see why I should bother with them apart from maybe earning some EXP in order to get a trophy. It’s a shame because the only thing I felt that was keeping it fresh was the numerous Powie Zowie’s you collect each time you help a character out, something I was eager to complete so I could advance the story.
The art style is vibrant and fun
I can only applaud the artists who worked on O.K K.O! Let’s Play Heroes. While I’ve read a few complaints about how people wanted the game to feature the same art style as the cartoon, I can’t help but say to these people: why?
The art is fun without losing the cartoony style that makes it stand out, instead, it reinforces the playful tone that the game resonates. It doesn’t take itself seriously, and it most likely doesn’t expect you to either, and that’s what makes it so much more exciting to play.
The enemies, which are just as varied as KO’s friends and family, are detailed with their own quirks and personality that can be seen in their appearance. The Raymond’s, in particular, are my favourite with the care and detail the artists have chosen to include in their looks and mannerisms. The slick of the hair, the use of the heeled feet and long-claw like fingers – it looks simple, but it adds so much.
The art is very enjoyable, I honestly can’t think of one bad thing about it.
I mean, apart from…the fact it’s very rare I don’t see something new from the background. That may not sound like a criticism considering how much I enjoy the artwork, but trust me, it is.
Repeatability lets this down
And oh, believe me, it infuriates me like no other to admit this, because overall? OK KO is a fantastic game, definitely one I’ll replay in the future, but it so repetitive at times that it was easy to become distracted and lose track of what I was doing.
I’m going to call the Plaza the Purgatory of this game, because half the time its heaven and half the time I’m wondering why I’m unable to go to other places outside of it. I understand that 90% of the narrative is centred around the Plaza, but after a while, everything inside the Plaza just loses its charm. It’s no longer exciting to wonder what Rad, Enid or Gar will give you as a task because you just know it’s going to be in ONE of the areas of the Plaza anyway.
It becomes a routine. And not an enjoyable one. Funnily enough the combat, which I mentioned above as tedious at times, was what helped break up the moments where the routine just became too much.
Is It Me? Or You?
Perhaps I wanted too much from a game like this, or perhaps it offered too little. I’m still not fully sure.
Regardless of this though, I can say that O.K K.O. is worth your time if you’re interested in a good smash-em-up game with a fair bit of side quests to do. It goes without saying that if you’re a fan of the show then don’t even hesitate and just lose yourself in its universe once more, trust me, it’ll be worth it.
My one piece of advice for fans of this kind of genre when going into this game is this: be mindful of keeping a balance. Don’t be like me and just focus on one thing, otherwise, like me, you’ll become tired before you’ve even begun to get into the good stuff! And you don’t want to do that, because this game deserves better than that.
So try it out! Then let me know what you think!
As for me? I’m off to go watch some O.K. K.O! Let’s Be Heroes…
I’m not ashamed.
Final Verdict: 3.5/5
Available on: Steam (PC), PlayStation 4 (Reviewed) and Xbox One; Publisher: Cartoon Network Games; Developer: Capybara Games; Players: 1 ; Released: January 23rd 2018; MSRP: £15.99/$19.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a PlayStation 4 review copy of O.K K.O.! Let’s Play Heroes given to Hey Poor Player by the publisher.