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Vintage Hero (PC) artwork

Vintage Hero (PC) review

"Vintage Hero feels more like a sampler than a classic meal, but it's certainly not without merit."

Valve should probably be careful, judging by the fact that Frog The Door Games has brought Vintage Hero to Steam. After all, the game seems to release exclusively on digital platforms that are doomed to crumble within a brief time. First the title was made available as an indie release on the Xbox 360 marketplace in 2013. Then it came to Desura in 2014. Could its recent arrival on the most successful distribution platform signify a disastrous change in 2018 or shortly thereafter? Only time will tell.

Vintage Hero deserves better fortunes than it has thus far received. It's a competent action game with familiar mechanics that owe a lot to the Mega Man franchise, executed well enough that most people won't mind seeing so many similarities. In either series, players choose from one of several levels they can tackle in any order, and defeat bosses at the end of those stages to acquire new weapons that will make their adventure easier to complete. Both heroes work for an elderly paternal figure, and their efforts will quite possibly determine the fate of the world.

Unfortunately,Vintage Hero doesn't take things far enough, or branch out enough to provide a particularly memorable adventure that truly stands on its own. There are only four introductory stages, and a few after that, which means the typical player should be able to clear the whole campaign in the span of around an hour or two. After that, there is a higher difficulty level to entertain those who thought the adventure wasn't challenging enough the first time around, but otherwise you're done.

Vintage Hero (PC) image

Levels are about the right length, though, with only a few checkpoints placed along the way (the exact number apparently depends on the difficulty setting). This can make things somewhat difficult if you're not used to platforming action, since your supply of lives is limited on all but the easiest mode. Spikes are lethal, and foes hit fairly hard, so you have to be careful as you progress toward the boss encounter you'll face at the end of the current zone. However, there aren't enough unique or inventive enemy designs to keep you on your toes for long. Though the environments feel fairly expansive, resistance is fairly light and you face the most risk from hazards such as spikes and pits.

In some respects, the game also gets easier as you go, since around the first two thirds of it can be cleared in the order you choose and your character gains experience points along the way. These points can then be applied to expand his life meter, boost his defenses, allow him to carry a larger stockpile of special ammunition and enable him to hit harder with his regular shots (which, by the way, were more than sufficient to take out all but one or two enemies in the game). Suddenly, formerly challenging gauntlets can't help but feel a bit toothless.

The classic Mega Man titles were delightful at the time of their release in part because they looked beautiful compared to much of the competition. Go back and look at the carefully rendered environments in even Mega Man 5 or Mega Man 6. They are beautifully detailed, and still impressive to this day. Meanwhile, the stages are packed with carefully placed adversaries and sometimes even alternate routes.Vintage Hero looks and feels quite plain in comparison. There's also less reason to experiment with the special weapons, which are no more effective at clearing your path than the standard cannon in all but a few brief instances.

Vintage Hero (PC) image

While Vintage Hero is disappointing in some respects, however, it does feature a soundtrack offering a selection of tunes you might almost expect to hear accompanying the blue bomber on his next mission. They're not quite as upbeat or memorable, but they do a nice job of evoking positive memories if you played the "vintage" games that clearly inspired this particular outing.

One of the game's more surprising strengths is its plot, which doesn't have a lot of time to evolve but still manages to make the most of a limited cast of characters and adversaries. Even if you anticipate some of the twists, you'll likely be surprised by the narrative conclusion and your place within it, which feels a bit grim compared to the lighter fare the simplistic and generally cheery visuals seem to promise. It's a shame there wasn't more time for the writer to develop the tale in even more interesting directions. Maybe that can happen in a sequel.

Vintage Hero is probably not the right choice for someone who hasn't already played through the various Mega Man games, along with some of the highly regarded clones they inspired. If you've already exhausted those options, though, and you're looking for something in a similar vein, you could certainly do worse. For a very reasonable price, Frog The Door Games' project provides a generally enjoyable way to pass a couple of hours before you move on to something a little more ambitious or time-consuming. Keep it in mind for just such an occasion.


honestgamer's avatar
Staff review by Jason Venter (January 01, 2018)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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If you enjoyed this Vintage Hero review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

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Masters posted January 02, 2018:

Good review, Jason, of a game that I had requested myself, only to get a figurative hand in the face! Hmm...

Anyway, your review summed up nicely (and rather charitably) what I was afraid the game would be all along: a plain Jane Mega Man clone.

I found a few things that require your attention:

"WhileVintage Hero is disappointing in some respects, however, it does feature a soundtrack offering a selection of tunes..."

A missing space, and the "while"/"however"agreement seems a bit funky here.

"One of the game's more surprising strength is its plot..."

A missing "s."

Anyway, kudos on kicking things off for 2018.
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honestgamer posted January 02, 2018:

Thanks for catching those! I use Dragon NaturallySpeaking to write my reviews now (and have for the last few months, due to RSI issues), and sometimes the software makes errors of that sort that I wouldn't likely make if I were typing by hand. Spacing issues are common, and words that sound the same but are spelled differently (or are singular when they should be plural). I try to catch everything in edits, but sometimes I just don't.

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