Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Kill the Heroes

It's nice to see the bad guys get more of a spotlight in recent fiction. Yes, it's fun to uphold truth, justice and the American way and all that nonsense, but it's ALSO fun to trash the truth, thwart justice and spit on the American way.

(No offense, American readers. I'M not doing the spitting.)

Thus it is that Kill the Heroes, which is VERY aptly named, came into being. Guess what you wind up doing?


Kill the Heroes begins as an amnesiac awakens in a high-tech facility. Groggy and disoriented, he finds and dons a rather villainous-looking outfit that he assumes is his own. Soon after a bevy of heavily-armed heroes try to infiltrate the facility and kill him. Cue a tower defense game! You must defend Mastermind, who just wants to be left alone!

... and possibly to kill people! There's always a chance.

Kill the Heroes has a surprisingly well-developed storyline for a Flash game. Not in the sense that it's terribly deep or complex, but that it's consistent. Every level is introduced with some dialogue, used primarily to showcase new weapons or abilities, and there is some interaction between characters that's occasionally funny. My favourite part of the story bits by FAR were the captions on the 'Next Message' buttons, which were usually sarcastic and/or remarkably apathetic to Mastermind's plight.

Plot aside, Kill the Heroes is a tower defense game with a twist. The heroes walk along a set track in a pre-determined pattern. You must set up defensive turrets, drones and traps to kill them. Their destination is Mastermind, the bulbous-brained fellow at the top of this screenshot:

Mastermind can shoot back and take a decent amount of damage, but leaving him exposed is a bad idea. Thus the game also includes a set of teleporters which, at the cost of a bit of money, allow Mastermind to zip from place to place in a hurry. The end result is as much a tower defense game as it is a quasi-shooter. Interesting combination, and fun to play.


Got a mouse? You're set. Click on stuff. The menus are unobtrusive and respond to clicks, so controls should seldom ever be an issue. I played the whole thing on a laptop trackpad without difficulty.


Kill the Heroes is kinda fifty-fifty on graphics:

- The characters are nifty. They don't move a hell of a lot, but I liked the chibi look. Mastermind himself is just about the goddamn weirdest-looking villain I've ever seen, and as a comic book fan, that's saying a lot.

- The backgrounds and environments are boring. The tracks all look the same. I don't know that variation would be appropriate to an industrial setting, but... bleh...

Final say? It looks okay. Not spectacular, not offensive. It's easy to keep characters and defenses sorted, which is probably the most important thing for tower defense.


The oratorical offering of this game is kinda bleh. There's one track throughout the majority of the game, a 'let's go kick some ass' tune that gets old after a while. Variety would be nice, but this is a free game so I won't complain too much, yadda yadda.

Challenge Rating

Kill the Heroes manages to hit a nice little difficulty sweet spot that's too high in some other tower defense games. It's challenging, but not impossibly so: the defenses and money provided are usually just enough to get you through a level with three stars. What's better, the game doesn't typically force you to use gadgets you'd rather avoid. All of them are useful throughout Kill the Heroes. And if you don't like how you upgraded your weaponry? No prob, you can reset your purchases.

That said, I found that upgrades made the game a little too easy. It's not that hard to earn stars for upgrades, and those upgrades - along with some proper placement - can shred enemies. The teleporter exacerbates this ease: for a rather paltry sum Mastermind can jump out of danger with little to no effort at all. In many cases it's just a matter of idly watching the heroes run the circuit, then hopping to another teleporter whenever they get too close. Whittle whittle whittle, success. Perhaps a cooldown time on the teleporter and applying upgrades would notch up the challenge?


I think I may actually have pointed out more flaws than high points, so believe me when I contradict myself: Kill the Heroes is a lot of fun. Every level presents a new challenge... literally... and playing through the story is neither a chore nor ragequit-worthy. I recommend giving this villainous little game a chance.


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