[Beyond PlayStation] Underhero Review
Underhero from Paper Castle Games and Digerati is a colorful and fun RPG platformer on Nintendo Switch with an interesting premise. Learn more in our Underhero review!
Underhero presents an interesting premise for a game: the chosen hero has failed the quest, which forces an underling of the evil king to take its place as the new hero that will “save the day.” Underhero is a colorful and charming 2D game that presents a platformer with RPG timing-based combat that might remind some of you of the excellent Paper Mario series. It’s a game with turn-based combat, but without the “turns” part of the equation. The RPG side has you leveling up as you go, gaining access to new skills and abilities that will help you triumph over evil… sort of.
Your adventure will take place in the Chestnut Kingdom, where generation after generation of princesses have been kidnapped by evil entities. Because of this, many heroes have risen to the occasion to save the day, as well as the kingdom, from impending doom. As mentioned before, this time around the chosen one has fallen in battle, unable to make the most of the legendary weapon, which up until that point had been used to defeat all evil creatures, in order to collect the magical stones that are the symbol of a true hero. You will actually start by playing as the chosen hero so that you can take part in his “fall from grace” experience.
Once the hero is no more, you will collect the magical stones and Elizabeth IV – the legendary sword – from the hero, and another underling will take Underhero to Lord Stitches – a.k.a. Mr. Stitches – the big and evil fiend who has kidnapped the princess, and who was waiting for the hero for the final battle in the game. Lord Stitches decides to free the princess, as well as to dispose of the underling that knows of what Underhero has done. It turns out that he has a new plan: to have Underhero bring the magical stones back to the different bosses that were guarding them in the first place! This will have you take one of the stones to the Moth Queen in Moth Forest, and it is here that your adventure proper will begin.
At first, Underhero reminded me of The Legend of Zelda, particularly of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, which, for me at least, is certainly a good thing. The game’s presentation is superb, with colorful and animated characters and locations to explore, and a solid soundtrack that does a great job of complementing the overall experience. It has a hint of the Paper Mario series as well, which is just more good news for those of you thinking about giving Underhero a go on Nintendo Switch.
While you’re exploring each 2D area, you will move your character around with the left analog stick or the D-Pad, jumping – and parachuting – with the B button. You can interact with things or characters with the Y button. If you want to talk with Elizabeth IV, you can do so by pressing the ZL button. Once in battle mode, the left analog stick – or the D-Pad – can be pressed up to jump or down to crouch, and you can also still jump with the B button. The Y button will be for your sword, while the A and X buttons are for your hammer and slingshot – once you’ve unlocked them. You can raise your shield with the ZR button to defend. There’s also the option of bribing enemies with the – button, in case you feel that spending some gold coins is the best option.
It turns out that when Elizabeth IV changes bearers – that is, “chosen ones” – then she loses all of her powers and abilities, so you’ll have to once again train and get stronger to be able to stand a chance against Lord Stitches. You see, Elizabeth IV’s goal is to defeat the great evil, and since Underhero is now her bearer, she bestows upon it the quest of all quests: to save the kingdom and defeat the evil Lord Stitches. It sort of makes sense since the main boss DID kill the other underling, so who knows what he’ll do to Underhero once his quest is over?
You’re going to have to collect a ton of coins during your adventure so that you can purchase upgrades, as well as unlock the save spots in the game. Each area that has a save machine will require that you pay a one-time fee to unlock that machine forever so that you can mark your employee card and save your progress. There’s also the conveniently named – and located – Evil Store for you to browse. You could, for example, unlock being able to carry one more potion in your inventory, upgrading your hit points, or unlock a magic anvil that can allow you to fix your shield at any time.
As for battles, you will need to make good use of your stamina meter, represented by the green bar next to Underhero, so that you can make every action count. Every time you attack, you will use up some stamina points, and if you don’t have enough stamina, then you won’t be able to do anything. The bar will recharge as the battle progresses, so be ready to use another action as soon as possible so that you can be victorious!
You can also refill your stamina bar more efficiently by paying attention to enemies so that you can evade their attacks by jumping or crouching, which will give you a stamina boost. Jumping is for evading medium height attacks while crouching is for high attacks. Pay attention to enemies, and you will be able to tell what type of attack they’re about to use! You can also try and block enemies’ attacks with your shield. Using it will cost one stamina, but if you time things right, you can parry an attack, leaving your opponent open for a counterattack. Your shield will receive some damage every time you use it, so be sure to repair it at the Evil Store or by using a magic anvil item!
And then, there’s Rush Mode. When in battle, if your stamina and Rush meters are full, you can unleash Rush Mode by pressing the L and R buttons at the same time. The Rush meter fills up as you take and receive damage in battles, and it’s represented by the circle behind Elizabeth IV in the battle command UI. Once you’re in Rush Mode, you’ll be able to chain powerful combos by hitting your opponent in time with the overall beat. Fail to hit a beat, and you will lose your combo, but you can give it another go as long as you have some stamina left.
Something that is fun to do in Underhero is talking to the enemies you will face. Since you’re all underlings, there’s no reason why you can’t communicate with each other, right? Just press right on the D-Pad, and you’ll be able to start a short conversation and say hello to your fellow minions. The one thing to remember is that you can only talk with a minion in battle before you attack. Pressing left in battle on the D-Pad will instead use one of your potions so that you can recover some of your overall health.
Once you’ve gained enough experience from winning battles, Underhero will get to level up. When you level up, you will get a chance to select one upgrade between the available options, so that you can start to shape up Underhero to be the best non-hero it can ever be. Will you boost your attack points so that you can deal more damage in battle? Will you instead focus on your hit points so that Underhero can resist more attacks? Or perhaps you might want to get a stamina boost so that you can take more actions in battle?
Underhero is a great platformer/RPG combo that stands out on Nintendo Switch thanks to its colorful graphics, fun platforming, and solid battle gameplay mechanics. It reminded me a bit of The Legend of Zelda series, in specific of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, as well as of the Paper Mario series that mixes the Super Mario Bros. platforming universe with some RPG gameplay mechanics – a solid winning combination. Underhero is now out on Nintendo Switch for only $16.99, and it’s an easy one to recommend.
This Underhero review is based on a Nintendo Switch copy provided by Digerati.