GAME REVIEW | It's K.O. To the Rescue In Action-Packed "Let's Play Heroes"
O.K. K.O.! Let's Be Heroes is one of Cartoon Network's beacons of delight within its current roster. With many nods to classic anime, video games, and 80s action flicks meshed with over-the-top humor, the adventures of K.O., Rad, and Enid capture a sort of visual entertainment that viewers of all ages can fully enjoy. It comes as a surprise that in less than a year since its debut, it has already spawned a console video game in the form of O.K. K.O.! Let's Play Heroes, crafted by Super Time Force developers Capybara Games. Take note, AAA publishers, because this is how you do a licensed game right!
Taking place within Lakewood Plaza, O.K. K.O.! Let's Play Heroes has you in the role of the titular character as he is collecting more Pow Cards for his collection and training to be the hero he wants to be. But when the evil Lord Boxman buys the company that makes Pow Cards, he drops all the heroes' ratings down to zero, making everyone in the area useless to be their usual heroic selves. It's up to the can-do attitude of K.O. to raise everyone's levels back up, whilst at the same time leveling himself up to be able to do better deeds for the greater good.
Capybara Games has taken the world of O.K. K.O.! and given it the personality of two different styles of gaming. On one side of the spectrum is the spirit of a point-and-click adventure game, as you have K.O. doing tasks for his mom Carol, best buds Enid & Rad, and the rest of the usual crowd that roams Lakewood Plaza. These tasks range from finding missing items to even upping one's status in the social world. What makes these missions fun is that they feel right in place with the lore of the cartoon itself, with K.O. taking things with the utmost care and importance.
It's the other style this game features that keeps it the most true to the Cartoon Network series, and that's the beat-em-up segments. Battles with the Darrells, Jethros, Shannons, and other "children" of Lord Boxman fire at you in a fast-paced and unpredictable way. Depending on which feisty box you open, you'll either be greeted with a simple one-on-one rotating battle or a hard-as-nails three-on-one rotation that will be as hard on your fingers as it is on your very soul! As you progress through the game, K.O. will learn new moves and abilities that'll make these fights easier to deal with.
Then there is what K.O. refers to as the Powie Zowies. When you've gotten a friend's card back up to a specific level, you will be able to use them in battle for a moment via their super-powered ability. Taking advantage of Rad's laser finger action, Carol's Kung-Fu skills, Red Action's super cannon, or Colewort's farts will lead to battles ending quicker and with more oomph. At the end of each fight, you will then break open a Lord Boxman piñata and collect your skill points that will be needed to level yourself up.
Rarely has there been a licensed video game that made it hard for me to put down. O.K. K.O.! Let's Play Heroes is a huge amount of fun from the get-go, thanks to its geeky personality and surprising amount of coolness. Even when there are missions that might feel repetitive, it's how the story is presented that keeps it from being bored. Watching as Mr. Gar gets flustered when thinking of K.O.'s mom or seeing Boxman's "children" have crises to deal with gives each moment of this video game a sort of spirit that makes it hard for you to turn away from.
Although it lacks the show's hand-drawn visual style, Capybara Games did a stellar job with crafting a cartoonish interpretation that still fits with the world of O.K. K.O.! Let's Be Heroes. With the aid of the original voice cast in tow (which includes veterans Stephanie Nadolny, Jim Cummings, and Kari Wahlgren), the characters deliver the same amount of charm and attitude as their animated counterparts. The worlds also are in tune with the original series, with K.O. roaming a Lakewood Plaza that contains practically every important nook and cranny seen thus far in the show.
Control-wise, this game feels much akin to Konami's glory days as an arcade cabinet king. Smashing buttons, pulling combos, and digging deep to hit those powerful moves are very much in the vein of such classic arcade titles as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Simpsons. Even when my fingers were being given a workout, I never once felt like I was about to cramp up, thanks to the story moments giving us players a well-deserved break from the action. The one downside is that this game feels like it could've benefitted from being a multiplayer brawler during those moments, but because of the way the missions are it would've been tough to fully implement such an idea.
O.K. K.O.! Let's Play Heroes will take you roughly 12-14 hours to beat. Once the story is over, you can return to seek out missions you hadn't completed yet or take part in some mini-games that are scattered throughout the Plaza. Unfortunately there is no New Game+, and if you want to replay levels, you'll be forced to delete your entire progress and start from scratch.
- A great dose of missions
- Fun beat-em-up mechanics
- Excellent story, voice acting
- Minor lip-synching issues
- Lack of replay value
O.K. K.O.! Let's Play Heroes left me shocked by its quality in gameplay and storytelling. Fun from start-to-finish, this adventure with K.O. will make fans of the show weep with joy over the care that Capybara Games placed into it. Those who have never watched the show are still invited to play, as it will more than likely push them to become fans themselves of this crazy, hilarious, and heartfelt series. In short, O.K. K.O.! Let's Play Heroes is one hell of a Powie Zowie that Cartoon Network Games has landed upon us.
Promotional consideration provided by Kim Manuel of Sandbox Strategies. Reviewed on the PS4.
Background Noise: RocknRoll MacHine by Turbonegro - A great gang of heroes needs a fist-pumping soundtrack, and no one does it quite like the kings of Scandinavian deathpunk. On the latest album in the "Apocalypse Dudes" storyline, the Duke of Nothing and his Norwegian misfits find themselves in a cyberpunk post-apocalyptic world, where their combined powers creates a Voltron-like robot that's been built to save the world. But in their usually tongue-in-butt-cheek way, they use their new powers to boogie to such songs as "Fist City," "Hot For Nietzsche", and a power ballad aptly titled "John Carpenter Powder Ballad." Grab your denim and Pow Cards, because this RocknRoll MacHine has come to save the world and the Lakewood Plaza strip mall that resides within it!