Iro Hero is set in the year 2036, a hundred years after Nyagu showed mankind how to generate electricity from their inner energy. After this discovery, enterprises across the world have begun exploiting humans to farm energy out of them; a gift had now become a curse. While the game’s protagonist, Iro, manages to avoid a sick fate, his mother is not as lucky as she dies during the farming process. In order to avenge his mother and save mankind, Iro sets off to change things.
Iro Hero is a classic vertical shmup, or shoot’em up if you will, where you navigate your way through treacherous areas filled with enemy vessels trying to mow you down. Unlike most traditional shmup, Iro Hero features a unique mechanic, which long time shmup fans might remember from Ikaruga. Iro Hero features a colorized polarity system which means that Iro can switch his vessel and firepower’s color in order to take out enemies. By that it means if you see Blue enemy ships, the only way to take them out is to switch your spaceship to red; if you remain blue, you’ll absorb the enemies’ bullets and they’ll be invincible against your blue bullets.
As you progress through the game’s 9 levels, you’ll be able to upgrade your firepower in order to give you an edge over the competition. Considering you’ll often see enemies of diverse colors on screen at once, it will require players to make use of their quick reflex in order to switch between colors quickly in order to take out the enemies.
Unlike most shmup where it’s basically 1 hit kill, you have three lives to use and before losing one, you can take 3 hits. The little annoyance with this is that the ship’s health bar isn’t really clear; your lives at the bottom of the screen serves as your health meter. When you start, all 3 vessels representing your lives will look fine, but as you take damage, they’ll become shaky and fuzzy. Not really intuitive and can be difficult to determine how close to death you are. While you can eat 3 different bullets, hitting an enemy ship will result in instant death.
Iro Hero has four different modes to keep players entertained. There’s the story mode, Normal mode where you’re only allowed 3 continues, Arcade mode where only 1 continue is granted and finally, 1CC, which needs to be unlocked where players have 0 continues. Unlike most shmup, Iro Hero’s pace is slower than most. It doesn’t mean it makes things easier, far from it. You’ll often have a bevvy of enemies on screen at once all firing at you. Fixed ships will simply fire forward, but moving ships will shoot from every which way.
Seeing as it’s a vertical shmup, the story slowly develops on each side of the screen as its where character interaction occurs during “calmer” period. While it’s a nice touch to mix story progression while we roam around in our vessel, it’s easy to get screwed while trying to read what is being said. The achievements in this game are easier to acquire than it is to finish the game. Within the first 5 minutes, you’ll have obtained more than half of them. You can easily get 1000Gs within the first two levels.
The game has a nice little cartoonish look to it while the characters have a bit of an anime feel. It does lack in detail somewhat, the background is colorful and well designed, although they are basically invisible considering you have to keep the focus on your ship and incoming bullets. Ships aren’t anything really special; whether it be yours or enemy ones. Sound wise, there’s nothing really special. It’s a cutesy soundtrack you’ll hear throughout your adventure with a chorus that’ll stick in your mind hours after playing.
Iro Hero is a fun, yet simple shmup. While it can get rough as with 99% of shmups, its slower pace can be beneficial to newcomers to the genre. The polarity mechanic is also refreshing (despite being done better in Ikaruga). For the price, Iro Hero is a great entry point into the genre for players hesitant to dip their toes in the brutal shump genre and add a quick 1000G on top? This makes it a no brainer.
- Challenging shump
- Slower pace makes it easier to plan your next move
- Already been done better
- Throwaway story