The horde of the undead are approaching and your only hope is to speed away whilst blasting blood pumping, face melting, mind bending metal. Double Kick Heroes is a rhythm based shoot ’em up that has your band keeping in time with the beat, surviving the zombie apocalypse the only way they know how.
With the guns connected to the kick drum, the player needs to keep in time with the beat. The controls are relatively simple, either requiring you to press A or B to shoot at the zombies on the upper or lower lanes. The game will slowly introduce new techniques, especially considering the difficulty setting you choose to have it on. In world 2, you’ll be introduced to using the snare drum with the L button, which further complicates how you hold the controller. I found that the best way to play it this way was to place the controller down on a flat surface and treat it more like a launchpad.
There is a great emphasis on landing combos as the longer you can string them together, the better your weapons will upgrade. You’ll start off each level with a rusty rifle and with more combo momentum, you’ll soon be mowing down groups of zombies with a mighty shotgun.
The gameplay can tend to blur together at times, making you miss the small intricate details of the surroundings and enemies. Drummers will certainly have an advantage with this game, that’s for sure. The beats can also be quite rapid at times to the point that by level 1-2, I stopped using my thumb and opted for my point and middle finger to alternate between the A and B buttons. As Double Kick Heroes was originally developed for PC, likely with a keyboard in mind, this makes sense as simply relying on your thumb won’t cut it. To summarise, this game is not easy and there’s no shame in playing on an easier difficulty setting. Luckily, you can change the difficulty partway through the story campaign, and there are a lot of customising settings to mess around with.
I was very surprised when I realised that Double Kick Heroes has no HD Rumble, or any rumble for that matter. It feels like a glaring omission as some tactile feedback in line with the beat could have helped with keeping in time.
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Exclusive to the Nintendo Switch version, Double Kick Heroes uses motion controls with the Joy-Cons. I didn’t have high hopes at first, but I was surprised at just how responsive this control method was, finding myself scoring higher on my second time round. Using motion controls eliminates the previously mentioned issue of having to press the buttons rapidly, rather you would swing the Joy-Cons independently like drumsticks.
As you progress in Story mode, you’ll drive along the open road in topdown Super Mario Bros. 3 style. While it doesn’t add much to the gameplay, it certainly provides a perspective of distance travelled whilst allowing the player to look back on their adventure.
Each level is short, only averaging approximately three minutes. Being a rhythm game, the level only goes as long as the song (unless you die, of course). This works perfectly for the Switch, allowing for quick pickup and play action.
Story / Personality
As your ragtag band escapes the zombie hordes, there is a lot of personality to be had in between songs. The band is quite a large group and each character’s personality stands out with charm and tongue-in-cheek humour. In addition, there are a lot of rock/metal references, with knockoff characters to famous artists, the first encounter being Marlene Branson (a reference to Marilyn Manson).
I was surprised to see that this game has an ESRB ‘T’ rating considering how many times the F word is used. By no means do I have an issue with this, on the contrary, I found that it fit in well within the themes of the game and is primarily used during high-strung moments in dialogue, I just certainly thought that it was noteworthy.
Graphics / Art Direction
The art style is purposefully crude, adopting a 90s comic art style with thick black outlines. It compliments the themes well and its grunge style is accompanied with some bright colours to not go too hard on dreary black and greys.
Music / Sound Design
If you don’t like metal, then you’re probably not going to like Double Kick Heroes much. Although, I think that goes without saying based on the game’s title, synopsis, art style, basically everything about it. The hard emphasis on the drums is crucial to the gameplay and above all, each track will make any metal fan raise their thumb, point and pinky finger.
As you approach each level on the overworld map, it’ll advise what genre the song will be, as well as the song length and title. I swear I’ve never heard of the genre ‘Beach Metal’ before, but it certainly provides a good idea of the tone before diving in.
Final Score: 75%
If you’re a fan of metal and rock music, Double Kick Heroes is a must buy. It’s certainly not an easy game and players will certainly struggle with timing if their rhythm isn’t their strong suit. Simultaneously concentrating on the rhythm beats and the SHMUP action isn’t particularly intuitive but if you’re one who’s good at multitasking, you may gel better with it; so be mindful of that before you splash the cash.
Thank you for checking out our Double Kick Heroes switch review, thank you to PR Hound for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support:
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