In an alternative timeline of the 1970s, all of London’s super heroes have been vanquished and a group of evil villains seek to take control the city using their dastardly super powers. Only a motley crew of average Joes can come together, with the help of their super gauntlet, to eliminate the evil doers. Deadbeat Heroes, the debut title from the seasoned developers at Deadbeat Productions, puts players in control of resident good guy, Felix. Felix wasn’t born with super powers, but he’s all hero just the same.
Before starting any missions, Felix has free run of the heroes’ headquarters. Here players can choose upgrades for the gauntlet, or take it out for a spin in the gym to practice new moves. When they’re ready, they’ll find a flashing red phone that once interacted with provides a menu for that phone’s designated chapter. Each chapter of Deadbeat Heroes is broken down into bite size missions, each of which has a letter grade goal. Its up to the player to match or beat that letter grade goal in order to continue on to the next chapter. Should the player fail to complete the mission at all, they will be lose their progress not only on that mission but also the letter grade they earned on the previous mission. This system even holds true for the boss battle. All other missions in the chapter must have their grade goal met before unlocking the boss battle, but should players die during their attempt at taking out the boss they are pushed back and lose their progress on both the boss and the previous mission.
This method of taking away progress adds tension to each level, but its a mechanic that can become frustrating very quickly. Each chapter follows a familiar formula, which results in Deadbeat Heroes feeling repetitive during longer gaming sessions. Standard goons are introduced early in the chapter, and there’s a healthy variety of them to take out including goons with bats, goons with pistols, goons with shotguns, and goons with machine guns, goons with – you understand where this is going. The majority of these enemies can simply be defeated by running jumping to dash over their heads and then attacking them from behind while they’re confused. Additionally, some rooms in the level will include NPCs that Felix must stand by to rescue. If these NPCs are hit by either the player or the goons before Felix is able to rescue them then they will run from the room screaming. Rescuing them successfully, however, nets Felix some cash.
The second or third mission of the chapter will see the introduction of a Lieutenant, a special enemy featuring the same power as that chapter’s designated boss. Felix can take the Lieutenant out, and in doing so can snatch their power for his own with his glove. Picking up the power lets Felix take on the form of that Lieutenant’s superpower and then use it against him or her. Powers include being able to force an explosion that damages nearby enemies in its area of effect, or shooting enemies with a freeze that turns them into a block of ice that can be destroyed with a single punch, and more. Each missions level grade takes into consideration how many times Felix is hit by enemies, how many NPCs he rescues, and even the percentage of how many times Felix’s attacks are hits or misses.
Once players successfully defeat a boss, Felix is able to take that power for the Deadbeat Heroes to use. Prior to starting a new mission, the player can choose which of the unlocked abilities they would like to have on stand by. Once you have successfully earned enough cash from rescuing NPCs the special ability can be called in like a care package. It will drop to the middle of the room that the player is in when the drop is requested, and the power will be used when the super meter surrounding the hero is drained.
The name of the game is Deadbeat Heroes, and as such Felix is not the only member of the Deadbeat team. As players progress, up to three more heroes become available, and players can choose between them before starting each mission. Don’t get too excited about this ability to switch up, however, as there is literally not a single difference between any of the heroes except character design and voice acting. That said, the additional heroes remain at headquarters, serving as back up lives should you fail a mission with your hero of choice. Rather than having to restart and losing a letter grade, as in earlier levels when Felix is alone, players can choose to retry a mission with another hero. Fair warning, however, that if you fail with all of the heroes you’re right back in the same boat as before with losing progress in the current mission as well as the letter grade for the previous mission. This includes boss battle progress.
While combat in Deadbeat Heroes can be conquered with some well timed button mashing, the game does suffer from the occasional micro freeze when there’s large amounts of enemies on the screen. This can result in some lost letter grades, and maybe even a little rage quitting when successfully completed levels lose their grades and access to boss battles is lost. Following these micro freezes, the game’s already low poly graphics manage to take a hit and become blurry, as well.