When I first saw Powerup Heroes, I thought it would be a dream come true. The ten-year old in me screamed for joy as I saw people acting out fireball motions to throw energy balls and pulled down lightning from the sky on their foes. But there was a question that remained in the recesses of my mind; the part of me that has learned never to judge a video game by its trailer no matter how much in-game footage there is still needed to know: is Powerup Heroes as fun to actually play as it is to watch? Let’s find out in our review of what’s HOT and what’s NOT in Powerup Heroes.
I was extremely surprised to find that every aspect of this game is absolutely gorgeous. I honestly could not spot a single detail in the game that was not absolutely spectacular to look at for extended periods of time. Even though Powerup Heroes takes your Xbox avatar and uses it to portray the main protagonist throughout the game, that does not cause the graphics or animations to seem reduced. Instead it actually lends to bright colors and powerful displays of super moves and landscapes as it sets the tone for the game as a whole.
The idea behind Powerup Heroes is an idea so simple, I’m surprised that no one has thought to make a game for the Kinect like this before. A fighting game that requires the player to stand in front of the Kinect sensor and perform simple hand and body movements in order to perform powerful special moves. When I first started playing this game I was having a blast; Hadouken motions translated into electrical blasts, raising my arms and dropping them brought down a powerful storm on my foe and I loved it…..for a while.
Poor Execution/Timing is entirely too unforgiving
While the idea behind Powerup Heroes is great, the enjoyment level quickly deteriorates as the stages move on. It’s frustrating enough when a game does not respond properly to your commands when pushing buttons, that frustration becomes ten-fold when you are flailing femurs, tilting torsos, and rotating radii (that’s your arm bone btw). Now I’m not sure if this is due to a limitation of the technology, Dance Central seems to prove otherwise, but when I am trying to perform a move as simple as lash a whip (performed by raising right arm and bringing it down) my character should not be dodging to the left (performed by tilting torso to the left.)
Cool-down timers in a fighting game?
Another thing that resonated with me was that each time my character would perform the wrong move, it would trigger the cool-down timer of the move I was trying to perform. Each of the suits you acquire, think of them as playable characters you unlock, have three special moves and all of the moves have cool down timers tied to them, timers that the computer do not seem to have. Granted you are able to use two suits during each round, to switch suits you simply raise your left arm, so that gives you six timers altogether but as quickly as I was able to perform all six moves, I then had to wait around for anywhere from five seconds (in a fight that’s a very long time) to near twenty seconds. I mean really, who puts cool-down timers in a fighting game?
While the gameplay in Powerup Heroes is not complex in the slightest, this simplicity lends itself very well when translated over to multiplayer. However, due to the unforgiving nature of timing required, no true skill helps determine who wins the battle, it merely boils down to who is lucky enough to have their body movements read properly by the game this round as a single misread move can cost you the entire round.
I honestly can not tell how this game is meant to be played, because I ran through the entire campaign in about four hours. It became extremely frustrating in about one hour because by that point I was facing opponents nearly eight levels above me. You are able to level up your character but I honestly don’t see it helping because there are no points to spend in specific attributes, and even though stats are maxed (the Volto X suit Speed is maxed out) computer opponents still run circles around you. Powerup Heroes is entirely too short, but at the same time it is entirely too long because of how quickly the game becomes frustrating.
With the graphics and idea behind it, Powerup Heroes had the potential to be a great addition to the Kinect’s library; but poorly executed game mechanics, incredibly frustrating gameplay, and the limitations placed upon how often you can do specific moves, it simply falls short of expectations. I recommend renting this game before spending the money to permanently add Powerup Heroes to your Kinect collection.
[Editor’s Note: PowerUp Heroes was reviewed on the Xbox 360 platform. The game was provided to us for review purposes by the publisher.]PowerUp Heroes Review,