By Jacob Grindstaff / August 21st, 2020
|Title||Two Bit Hero|
|Release Date||May 22nd, 2020|
|Genre||Retro, Metroidvania, Indie, Action|
|Platform||PC (Steam, Gamejolt)|
As a huge fan of the Metroidvania genre, I was delighted to dive right into Two Bit Hero and carve it apart, for better or worse. Looking at the game’s trailer and images, it’s hard not to see that the game is very simplistic. This isn’t necessarily an issue, but it may deter some folks from spending 10 dollars on it. My main concern with any game is if the gameplay is actually good, and if it can keep me sated until the end. So, I dove into the game with one question: Is this game fun?
Upon first booting up the game, it greets you with 4 menu options – New, Load, Mode and Exit. This was a concern for me, as there are no ways to change options, limiting players to a specific set of keybinds. More importantly, this also meant zero audio adjustments (without changing the audio manually on Windows itself.) Mode changes the difficulty from Hard to Easy and vice versa. Disappointingly, even though the game (on the pause menu) says that it’s playable with a gamepad, it is not, at least not with an Xbox One controller.
Leave the game on Hard, I pressed New. The game launches you into a small cutscene. Our fair and noble bitular hero is running through a field of grass and flowers. A group of frog men run past you, screaming as you see a caped frog hero dive in, and out. Afterwards, the scene changes, and good gracious it is BLINDINGLY white with patches of black.
Refreshingly enough, the game doesn’t give you any guidance on where to go at this point. It doesn’t bombard you with tutorials or instructions. You’re free to go where you want. I personally love this, as I’m a huge fan of exploring rather than being driven down a line. Pressing the pause button (ESC) gives you a few tidbits of information as well as the keybinds you’ll be using to traverse the lands. Confusingly enough, some of the information looks like it should be commands or inputs but are later found out to be actual upgrades as part of the game. We’ll discuss more about these upgrades in the near future.
Moving along, you’re able to jump, move left and right, shoot bullets, pull up a map, and use a slashy pokey sword stick. The good news is, I never felt like the controls or the movement was fighting against me.
The map for this game is actually pretty killer. It moves along with you and shows locations you’ve been to previously, as well as upgrades you may have missed and enemies in those quadrants. It’s honestly my favorite part of the game, and I want more games to implement this feature.
Combat gets dull over time as it’s just jump, shoot, slash. To its credit, however, the upgrades make the combat more enjoyable as it feels satisfying to kill enemies with one blow, but by no means is the combat challenging.
The music is there. It’s nothing super special, but, it definitely matches the tone and theme of the game. Fortunately, you’ll be able to listen to different tracks as you progress! Woo!
Enemy design is simple. You’ve got your blobs with red eyes, your blobs with red eyes that fly, your moving fly boys and so forth. The blobs with red eyes on the ground have two variants – ones that run towards you and away, and ones that shoot lasers at you. It was a bit difficult figuring out which ones would shoot lasers as there’s no differences in look. After some clever sleuthing and using the brain machine, the ones that shoot at you move away from you as you move towards them.
Like any true Metroidvania game, this game also includes different pixelated versions of biomes. You’ve got your standard castle biome, hell biome, forest biome, and so forth. The art design for each of these are rather quaint and feature different enemy types. Exploring these zones can benefit you with a variety of upgrades, health, and ammo. The main four upgrades are the ability to pass under gaps, double jump, pass through gates, and pass through fences. There are also upgrades for your sword, gun, and map.
Finding your way through these biomes isn’t that difficult. At no point in this game did I ever feel super lost, other than having to backtrack once or twice (expected in a Metroidvania title.) It’s very straightforward into what upgrades you’ll get next, or what you need to do to progress to the next area. Though that’s not to say the game doesn’t get tricky.
Later on, you’ll find several portals that’ll transfer you from the white dimension to the black dimension, allowing you to go to places you couldn’t previously access. If I had to compare it to a existing game, it reminds me of the Dark World / Light World Mechanic in The Link To The Past.
Boss design is jank, and I adore it. Some of the bosses are goofy and creative, while others are more serious. From a buzzing lightbulb looking mosquito to a giant cyclops, this game doesn’t suffer from kooky design.
The game, for better or worse, is short. I’m personally fine with this, as I dig short games that I can finish in one session if they’re arcade-like. I mention this because it can be a deterrent for purchasing. To add to this, if you’re looking for a story game, this game doesn’t have much of one, if any at all.
After exploring every nook and cranny, it took me roughly 3 hours to finish. By no means did I 100% it, but I feel like I at least completed the game 95% of the way through. According to the Steam page, there are three endings. I’m pretty sure I got the average ending. To a player trying to 100% it, I could see this game taking about 4-5 hours depending on the level of player knowledge with Metroidvanias.
To answer the question I posed at the beginning of the article, I’d say the game is indeed fun and is worth it at its current price point of $10 if you really like Metroidvania titles. Though the game suffers from a few flaws such as screen flickering and a lack of overall options, Two Bit Hero is a quick little romp from a developer who seems to know how to design a track without having to force the player on the rails. Kudos to you, Ezekiel Rage.
Game was provided by Publisher