Arriving on the Nintendo Switch courtesy of publisher Eastasiasoft and developer Artax Games is Iro Hero, a hardcore vertical shoot-em-up. Anyone who knows me is aware that I love shmups of all kinds, and being a new Switch owner (with just a few games) made my anticipation even greater. What I found is that Iro Hero plays similarly to beloved Treasure game, Ikaruga. Not just the switching of opposite colors, but the feelings of reward and frustration.
Iro Hero takes place in 2306, a futuristic time where humans are harvested for energy purposes. Humans are now farmed by the alien race, the Nyagu. You play as Iro, the hero who seeks revenge for the death of his mother during harvesting.
What sets the game apart from other shmups is the color polarity system used during combat. Iro’s ship can change colors, either blue or red (in earlier levels). When you are blue your gunfire only kills red enemies and vice versa. This means that during combat you’re required to switch colors while dodging projectiles. If that was not hard enough, you are limited to just three lives. I preferred to play Iro Hero with undocked joycons and found the control layout to be intuitive and responsive. What makes the game so addictive is that any mistakes you make will be of no fault of the game. In time I found myself memorizing enemy locations and gritting my teeth through tense moments.
During levels there are dialogue sequences that show up on the left and right sides of the screen. Taking your eyes off the action to read them can prove to be a catastrophe. This problem could have been solved with voice acting, but alas there is none to be found. I did however greatly enjoy the upbeat soundtrack and cartoon art style of the characters.
For $12.99 USD you are getting a fundamentally sound shoot-em-up with high difficulty. There are a few game modes to play: Story, Normal (Only 3 credits), Arcade and 1cc which is unlocked after beating the story mode. There are 9 total levels and 10 final bosses to take on. Depending on how much you love shmups and how much punishment you can take, you will find a lot of value in Iro Hero. Casual fans should beware, there will be no hand holding in your quest to avenge your mother.