Cartoon Network’s ongoing quest to make video games based on animated television that do not suck reaches a new level with OK K.O.! Let’s Play Heroes, a sweet little beat ‘em up developed by the makers of Super Time Force and Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP. It does not suck at all.
Announced around the same time as the excellent (if a bit buggy) Steven Universe: Attack the Light, Let’s Play Heroes is a lighthearted adventure based on one of Cartoon Network’s newest hits, OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes. The show is about a young boy named K.O. who wants to be the world’s greatest hero. Helping him with this task is a colorful cast of strange heroes who hang out at the Lakewood Strip Mall, where K.O. holds a job at Gar’s Hero Supply and Bodega. K.O. and friends also defend the strip mall against the evil Lord Boxman (who owns the big box store across the street) and his army of robot children. It’s a pretty funny show. My kids dig it.
In OK K.O.! Let’s Play Heroes, Lord Boxman takes over the company that makes official hero POW cards (every hero has one), resetting all of their hero levels to zero in order to shatter Lakewood’s morale. It’s up to K.O. to run about the strip mall beating up robots and performing tasks for its residents to help restore their lost hero levels.
Rather than copy the show’s art style, developer Capybara has done its own interpretation of the people and places of Lakewood. It’s quite lovely, filled with detail-rich static backgrounds a large character sprites that scale wonderfully as K.O. goes about his business.
That business involves lots of little chores and quests. For a kid who works in a bodega, K.O. does not do a lot of bodega work. Instead he’s procuring GIFs for his kappa friend Dendy, helping arrange social media friendships for his big sister figure Enid or helping alien teenager Radicles preserve the sanctity of his awesome van.
When not running back and forth, looking for things and stuff, K.O. takes on the robotic minions of Lord Boxman in simple yet engaging 2D beat ‘em up battles. He punches, kicks, dodges and uppercuts his way through robotic enemies in battles that take place on a static stage. Sometimes power-up crates drop onto the field, adding items like devastating giant anvils and electrifying light bulbs to the mix. Enemies drop bombs or fire missiles that K.O. can punch, turning their weapons back on them.
Collectible hero POW cards come into play in battle as well. Once O.K. has unlocked a hero card’s special power (generally by performing quests for the character), he can summon them in battle, unleashing devastating attacks that make challenging melees much less so.
The lovely art, engaging combat and some very clever writing all add up to a delightful little game that’s far better than any cartoon tie-in game has a right to be.
OK K.O.! Let’s Play Heroes is now available for $19.99 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Steam.