Random Heroes: Gold Edition is an action-platformer that was originally released on the Newgrounds website as a flash game. Over the years, it has been brought to most gaming systems along with the various app stores before recently being released on the Nintendo Switch. Has this flash game from 2011 aged well? Let’s find out!
Random Heroes: Gold Edition’s story is more of a framing device than an actual narrative. The player is dropped into a world that has recently been attacked by aliens in an attempt to take over the world. You play as one of the various random heroes as you try to stop the alien threat by traversing levels and destroying them all with a variety of guns.
The entirety of the story is introduced in the initial cut scene and doesn’t really develop itself past that point. This isn’t really a big deal with this type of game, as they are designed to give players a basic reason for why they are killing various monstrosities. Though I do feel there was a lost opportunity to insert at least some cut scenes or dialogue that could make the game at least a little more compelling especially to help distinguish between levels
The gameplay for Random Heroes: Gold Edition really seems to try to capture the feel of classic Mega Man games with slightly more exploration options. The two games play very similar as you only use two buttons that allow you to shoot and jump. Other buttons do have functionality, but they perform the exact same actions.
Random Heroes’ core experience of shooting and platforming was mostly solid. I never felt like I was cheated by any tricky jumps or difficult traversal portions of the game. I do wish that the characters had a little more weight to them and felt a little less floaty, but it was nothing that got in the way of gameplay.
The shooting aspect was very similar to other retro style games, but could have done something a little different to stand out. Bullets move slowly across the screen making the game feel slower than it is. I also found myself just holding down the button to shoot as each bullet travels far and could even hit enemies off screen on occasions.
Other than killing as many aliens as possible, players are tasked with collecting gold stars and coins. You can get three gold stars in each of the 12 chapters of each of the 9 levels. You get a star for collecting all the coins in the level, finishing the level without taking any damage, and killing all the enemies. As you accumulate stars you can use them to buy other heroes which despite having different stats, all basically play the same way.
Some heroes do more damage or move slightly quicker, but I could barely tell the difference in my time with the game. This was very disappointing as I have seen other games in this genre handle this so much better. In the Mega Man, when you played through the games as Zero or other characters, there was enough of a difference to warrant another play through. Since all the characters feel and play the same, I really didn’t care too much about unlocking them. This in turn resulted in me not caring about collecting all the stars in each level as there was no real incentive for me to do so.
Gold coins enable you to purchase betters gun that do more damage along with all effects. There are 20 different guns that players can unlock in the game which include everything from pistols to twin bazookas and flamethrowers. Unfortunately, all the guns for the most part feel and play the same way. With shooting being one of the primary focuses of Random Heroes, it would have been nice if there was more effort into making each gun feel unique even if it meant having less options to choose from.
The game consist of 9 worlds each with their own themes such as cemeteries, sewers, and catacombs. Each of the game’s world have twelve chapters that culminate in a boss battle at the end of each. Unfortunately, the differences in the levels are as simply as swapping backgrounds and color palettes.
One of the key thing that really makes an action-platformer stand out is the level design. Great games in this genre have various memorable levels that are very different from each other. They also often use the setting you are playing in to bring new challenges and enemies to keep the game from growing stale or boring. In Random Heroes, every level feels and plays exactly the same.
Whenever you complete a chapter, it really feels no different than when you complete a single room in a game. This isn’t necessarily an issue in most games in this genre as usually it is only two or three rooms or chapters per level. The problem is in Random Heroes you have to play through 12 almost identical rooms which really makes each of the 9 levels feel long and drawn out. This is further exasperated when you factor in the aforementioned identical levels.
This game really could have benefited from even simple changes such as having an ice level which could make traversing more difficult by making it harder to stop or making players slide around. Even an underwater level would have worked just to change the mechanics of the game just briefly. Since every chapter and level were so similar, I just found myself wanting to rush through to get to the bosses just to have something different to experience.
The boss battles felt like an afterthought. For the most part, all of them felt like a normal enemy with a bigger life bar. I barely had to put any strategy into defeating them as their patterns of movement and attack were immediately evident. I don’t understand why bosses were included in this game except as maybe a catalyst for a change in the levels which is kind of unnecessary in light of the final product.
Random Heroes: Gold Edition’s campaign clocks in around 4-5 hours, but honestly felt so much longer due to the repetitious gameplay loop that the player must go through 9 times. Though I initially planned to beat this game in one play through, I had to break up playing it over multiple days just because I got bored so often. My goal became finishing Random Heroes rather than enjoying the game even with it already being a very short experience.
Random Heroes: Gold Edition sounds just like many games from which it pays homage. The entire experience I felt like I was playing a classic NES game just with the sharper sound capabilities of today. This really helped me get in the mood to get through each session.
The music differs only slightly for each level, but was upbeat and energetic enough to keep it on. The sound effects overall were pretty solid as each gun had it’s own unique sound which is a major thing as you will be hearing it nonstop throughout the campaign. I do wish that the developers included more such as sounds to signify the characters jumping and for enemies who attacked in ways other than shooting. With the polish and detail on some sounds and some missing entirely it ended up distracting and pulling me out of the experience at times.
VISUALS & PERFORMANCE
Random Heroes – Gold Edition visuals are a mixed bag. During gameplay, I didn’t experience any glitches, crashes, or lag. The sprites are crisp, clean, and detailed. Unfortunately, there is very little enemy variation throughout the many levels. Most games in this genre would have stage specific opponents for you to face that usually match the theme of whatever level you are playing. In Random Heroes, you basically face the same enemies in each level with usually one or two being added to the roster.
The levels all basically look the same except a swap in the color palette and background wallpaper. This was very disappointing to me as the entire game felt like one big level. If more effort was put into having unique settings with enemies that were tied to them, I feel like this could have been a whole different experience.
Random Heroes – Gold Edition is barely appropriately priced at $4.99. This game technically gives you replayability with content you can unlock, but I personally couldn’t justify wanting to play through this game again based on what you will get. It is a very basic game that wears out it’s welcome pretty quickly.
Story - 5/10
Gameplay - 4/10
Audio - 7/10
Visuals & Performance - 6/10
Value - 6/10
Random Heroes: Gold Edition feels like a series of missed opportunities. I constantly found myself catching things that if they had only put more effort into would have resulted in fun game. While I understand Random Heroes was initially a flash game from 2011, with them re-releasing it in 2020 on a new system I would have expected them to make some changes to justify the this port. With the repetitive nature of the gameplay, I could only recommend this to die-hard fans of the original game for a walk down memory lane. There are just too many action-platformers out there that are around the same price tag for me to suggest this game to anyone else.
- Cheap price
- Good sound
- Boring and repetitive levels
- Lame boss battles
- Short campaign, but not in a good way