Super Meat Boy, Mega-Man, and Super Mario Brothers. Classic platformers, solid inspiration. Will Super Red-Hot Hero be next?
2D platformers are becoming ever more common nowadays. It’s almost as if we have come full-circle. Gaming took off with the genre in Super Mario Brothers. It built an iconic franchise in Mega-Man, and it kicked off the indie scene with Super Meat Boy. These types of games are arguably the purest gaming experience, at their core being nothing but the player, their skill level, and a well-refined stage that tests their platforming skill-set. They are also a very easy game for small teams of developers to put together.
Because of this, we tend to get a lot of platformers that don’t differ much from one another and are just easy and boring. Ones that move with the finesse of a game still in its early stages of movement rather than with the feeling of polish and challenge you would expect after having a full release. Quick cash grabs rather than a solid platforming experience.
Enter Super Red-Hot Hero, an upcoming title by StrangeLight Games that gives me hope for the future of challenging 2D platformers. In it, you play as the Red-Hot Hero and attempt to save the world from the Kazan Army. Like the games it draws inspiration from, combat consists of jumping on enemies heads and shooting them with your arm cannon. Though in this game, enemies don’t just disappear in a poof of thin air.
We can no longer rely on old skill sets.
Destroying an enemy leaves behind a ball of red-hot energy that players can instantly warp to creating a whole new layer of gameplay on top of established mechanics. These balls of energy allow StrangeLight to be a bit more creative with their level design. Levels will see benefits including multiple paths through a stage or by placing enemies in difficult to challenge patterns. Relying on previous jumping skills will no longer work. Adapting to this updated style of play is essential in getting through it.
As the levels get more elaborate, you will find yourself performing complex combinations of moves like punching an enemy and jumping after it while avoiding other enemies projectiles, and then trying to find the next energy orb to warp to before falling into the water and dying. The orbs are constantly adding to the game and they feel like a natural progression of difficulty for the standard platforming gameplay rather than a cheap gimmick. Super Red-Hot Hero is not easy and will challenge you in ways similar to Mario Brothers and Mega-Man. All of my deaths in the demo came from my lack of skill with warping rather than poor level design.
The orbs also fill up your energy bar on the bottom left-hand of the screen. Keeping the bar full is essential for survival, so you have to be constantly moving in order to keep alive.
Varied combat makes for a memorable experience.
The jumping is a little loose right now - I find myself going a step too far in either direction when in the air - but otherwise the game feels good. Movement from left to right feels smooth and has some level of polish on it already. Punching enemies works well with the fast-paced movement and the move has a wide enough span to keep a decent distance from enemies. Unfortunately, I was unable to test out the shooting as it is not available in the demo at this time, though I have full faith in StrangeLight to make it feel just as good as the other mechanics do.
StrangeLight has also incorporated a speed-run time in each level of Super Red-Hot Hero, further encouraging mastery of the game's systems for those who can’t resist competing for the fastest time.
Super Red-Hot Hero has enough going for it that it could be one of the next big 2D platformers if they polish up right. It has the balanced difficulty, some stand out mechanics, and level design that takes advantage of the unique qualities StrangeLight has incorporated. This is one to put on any gamers watch-list.
Super Red-Hot Hero is currently being funded on Kickstarter
By: Max Moeller