We love rhythm games a lot, like A LOT. Here in Japan, there’s a plethora of them to choose from whenever you enter an arcade, and each one provides a truly unique experience. If you like a more relaxing, low tempo vibe they have classical style rhythm games. If you enjoy the more fast paced up tempo style, then you’ve got an enormous selection to choose from. Whatever your taste, rhythm games are just about anywhere. This brings us to our review of Double Kick Heroes, a rhythm game shmup hybrid that takes you on the road with a band of heroes out to save the world from bloodthirsty zombies, chickens, dinosaurs, and other nasty creatures. This is an absolutely cool combination of two incredibly classic genres, and when you actually start to jam out to all the songs while zapping enemies, it really gets your heart pumping full of excitement. Anyone who enjoys the challenging aspects of rhythm games accompanied with the action style shmup mechanics will surely have a kick out of Double Kick Heroes. As an early reminder, the game is still in early access so expect there to be a lot more content implemented down the road.
What to Expect
Unlike in most rhythm games where if say, you miss a lot of notes on screen you fail, in Double Kick Heroes you lose by taking damage from the incoming horde of freaks that constantly chase your vehicle. So you could miss a ton of notes on screen but what that ultimately leads to is more zombies inching their way towards your vehicle to tear you apart. So your timing must be on point at all times while keeping a close eye on what’s happening on screen. It all sounds quite demanding at first but once you get the hang of how to play, hitting the right notes will start to feel like second nature. Each level and song will get progressively more challenging than the one before, with every song stemming from a different genre of rock. You have wide array of metal tracks to keep your adrenaline high and keep the hype alive while playing.
There are various difficulties to choose from and so, if you’re new to rhythm games, it’s perhaps best to stick with the easier difficulties until you learn how to develop better hand-eye coordination. That’s perhaps the most pivotal aspect about Double Kick Heroes because like we mentioned earlier, the game combines shmup and rhythm based mechanics into one definitive style which means that your level of focus needs to be high at all times otherwise you’ll encounter a lot of deaths (and we mean a lot). Be that as it may, Double Kick Heroes is an addictive experience that must be played, and so now, we’ll dive into what makes the game stand out and what areas need a little tweaking.
On the basis of visuals, Double Kick Heroes isn’t a masterpiece by any means; in fact we love the retro style it implemented because it really creates that nostalgic feel of those classic shmups from back in the day. That combination of old and modern aesthetics are what truly give the game life and it creates a truly immersive experience. The story isn’t really new since we’ve all come across at least one post-apocalyptic game where zombies come into play, but that’s not where the game shines. As we’ve stated before, Double Kick Heroes is all about the rhythm game appeal and really working at mastering your hand-eye coordination to score big points, while staying alive. You travel across various parts of the world and interact with various characters who provide advice along the way, with many of the characters paying homage to their real life counterparts. Marlene is of course the iconic Marilyn Manson while another closely resembles Danny Trejo. The list goes on but we’ll leave it to you to figure out who’s who as you traverse through the game.
Double Kick Heroes gives you the option to play with a drum set ala Rock Band, a fightstick, gamepad, or just regular keyboard if you don’t own the previously mentioned. We opted for the fightstick since we loved the sound of each button tapping to the beat as we rocked our way through each boss battle, so to each their own. Going back to earlier where we mentioned failing missions, you have to be extremely careful not to mash your way through the game because your weapons will overheat, causing you to lose points but also lose access to your weapons until cool down. As you progress further, the game will introduce new methods of play which add even more difficulty to the experience, such as having to move your vehicle around to avoid incoming damage from the enemy.
So not only do you need to be pressing the right buttons in sequence, but making sure to keep an eye on enemy patterns is another thing. Other elements like grenade throwing are also thrown into the mix but they’re primarily fixed to the notes you need to tap. If you successfully hit all the right notes for your grenade meter your vehicle will launch a group of grenades in the air which will take out a horde of zombies behind you. Additionally, each button you press will have a direction attached to it so for example, one button will shoot enemies on the upper portion of the stage, while pressing another will eliminate enemies on the lower half. So it’s not just about pressing buttons in hopes to score big but there’s also a method of strategic planning in order to fend of enemies from hitting you.
That’s perhaps the fun part about playing Double Kick Heroes because you really feel rewarded for keeping up with the song being played, killing enemies as they approach, while learning new upgrades to provide a more enjoyable experience. No game comes without its cons of course and Double Kick Heroes falls under that category, but not as much as you think. The overall flow of the game is wonderful and you can go at your own pace, since replaying levels have no serious penalties. You’re constantly driven to improve at your game and each new level presents even more surprises that just make playing for long periods of time a total blast. We did also experience some stuttering while playing however which actually affected the gameplay, since the game would momentarily freeze at times despite the music still playing in the background. Of course like we said, missing a few notes won’t necessarily be the end of you but it still created some issues nonetheless. Definitely one of the better indie games we’ve played this year! Great stuff!
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Despite a few flaws here and there, Double Kick Heroes is actually a game that we totally see ourselves playing over and over again, mastering every song until we can perfect each one. One awesome thing as well is having the ability to throw in your own songs via the Community Level Editor, so if you grow tired of all the metal (which we don’t think you will) you can opt for your own selection. The excessive swearing during dialogue could’ve been toned down a little and a little voice acting would’ve given the game a little more life in the story department, but we don’t think that was the main focus of the game to begin with. If anything it felt more like a filler just to provide some incentive to play the story before perhaps diving into the arcade mode, or other modes available. It allows the more casual players to enjoy a little direction while the more hardcore players will find more enjoyment in just aiming for the high score every time. It’s a win-win for everyone and we totally recommend this game to anyone who feels they can handle the challenge.
Really awesome soundtrack with a diverse selection of tunes to rock out to.
Easy to pick up and play but definitely one that takes time to fully master.
It caters to both casual and hardcore players with 5 difficulties to choose from.
Retro style visuals add more zest to the hybrid style gameplay.
30 levels to destroy!
Design your own levels and more!
The swearing could be toned down a little.
Honey's Final Verdict:
We hope you found our review of Double Kick Heroes to be helpful in making your purchasing decision a lot easier. We know that this type of game is a niche and will cater to a certain audience, but we still encourage you to try it even if you’re not familiar with the genre. It has enough juice to keep you coming back for more, and the rockin’ soundtrack will keep your head banging for hours. Be sure to follow us on Twitter to stay updated on all the latest game related topics, and Twitch to check out our live streams!
As always, for all things sweet, with news straight from Japan, be sure to keep it locked here on Honey’s Anime.
Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!