Retrospective Reviews Reviews

Iro Hero: A Retrospective review

Developer 'Artax Games' have brought the late 80’s/early 90’s coin ops experience to players’ homes in 'Iro Hero'. The title is an unforgiving take on arcade classics such as ‘Galaga’ and ‘Ikaruga’ with some gameplay mechanics such as vertical scrolling levels and unlimited ammo. But unfortunately, Iro Hero misses some necessary ones.

Players find themselves in the protagonists Iro spaceship. Without ruining too much of the plot, an alien race has taught earthlings how to harness electricity from within the human anatomy. The plot thickens akin to the ‘Matrix’ franchise by literally farming less fortunate humans.

Negative or Positive?

Iro has the ability to change the polarity of his inner electricity, this plot point is used to back-up the red and blue colour shifts in the protagonist’s ships and ammo. This mechanic is used offensively to damage the opposing coloured ships.  As players go through levels, various pickups are available to increase ammo radius etc., but not much else.

Iro Hero 2
“We Better Bounce Iro”

Iro hero is its own worst enemy in not providing challenging checkpoints throughout levels or any guidance throughout to overcome the games nine levels. It sounds typical of a modern gamer to complain about difficulty, but one believes there is engaging difficulty and just plain old unfair difficulty. Imagine a platforming title with ledges spaced just a little too far apart for players to land an effective jump.

Holding On to the Past

Adding to this, gamers of today and yesteryear might not have the patience to tackle just a daunting undertaking. Yes, arcade games in the same vein are also very challenging however they also provided checkpoints and certain abilities to combat level fatigue. The levels themselves are simply too long, almost like listening to your grand-parents bang on about the price of butter in your local supermarket.

“Well, this just got super cerial!”

Enemies follow variating attack patterns and try to save the games levels long haul approach, but even that does not escape the un-needed length of Iro Hero’s vertical scrolling moments. The sides of the level are used for character interaction; however, players might find themselves ignoring plot points just to ensure their toil isn’t in vein.

Skip, Skip, Skip to the Game!

If this reviewer is being honest, the narrative is a passive affair. From the opening screen and throughout Iro Hero, players are greeted with blocks of text in an awkward font. Unfortunately, this approach simply reverses what the plot is trying to achieve. Although it has potential, for a title such as this, it is not necessary to have a thick undercurrent of character drive.

“It Don’t matter if you’re Red or Blue…”

The presentation of Iro Hero also follows in its fore father’s footsteps; a coin-ops style pixel art is utilized in all its crisp arcade cabinet glory. All special effects and attacks are animated in the same fashion bringing a nice sense of authenticity to Iro Hero. Whilst the graphics are presented in high resolutions, with substantially more detail than early 90’s titles, it still feels like it could live in a cabinet somewhere in a dusty storage locker.

Iro Hero’s soundtrack is a synth/bit chip experience that tries to move away from the well-trodden pixel art and bit chip sound marriage. Whilst it sounds great, it is not something I’ll be actively looking to listen to again but it serves its purpose. Sound effects are also in the same vein.


Presentation: 6.9
Graphics: 7.9
Gameplay: 5
Sound: 6.5

Overall Score: 6.6/10

Iro Hero sets out to take players back to the golden age of arcade/coin ops gaming. And whilst the effort is obvious, its execution is one of missed opportunities and polish. Iro Hero looks the part but does not deliver quite as well as it should.

Platforms: Nintendo Switch (Reviewed)
Release Date: 22/06/2018
Price: £11.69 (eShop)
Publisher: EastAsiaSoft
Developer: Artex Games
Pegi Rating: 7+

Review copy provided by publisher


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