Cartoon Network Revisits Old-School Brawlers With Its Newest Show And Game
OK K.O.: Let's Play Heroes blends side-scrolling beat-'em-ups with light RPG elements.
It might seem a little unusual to announce a video game adaptation of a cartoon that hasn't even premiered yet, but it's fitting in the case of OK K.O. The upcoming Cartoon Network series draws much of its inspiration from video games, and the game spun off from it, OK K.O.: Let's Play Heroes, was developed in tandem with the cartoon and had direct input from series creator Ian Jones-Quartey, who worked on other Cartoon Network shows such as Adventure Time and Steven Universe.
OK K.O. revolves around the eponymous K.O., the newest employee of Gar's Bodega, a convenience store for superheroes. K.O. dreams of becoming a superhero himself, and both the cartoon and game follow his adventures to be immortalized in his own POW card (collectible cards for each of the town's heroes). Despite its ties to the show, however, Let's Play Heroes isn't an adaptation in a traditional sense; Jones-Quarty considers the game to be its "own canon" that explores the series and its characters from a different angle.
Fittingly, where the OK K.O. television series draws inspiration from video games, Let's Play Heroes takes many of its ideas and elements from cartoons. Players can freely explore the town of Lakewood Plaza, but the transitions between each area resemble "cuts" to a different scene, and dialogue between characters is framed as an over-the-shoulder shot/reverse-shot. It's a unique effect that certainly makes the game feel like an interactive cartoon.
The game plays out like a traditional, side-scrolling beat-'em-up with light RPG elements. Players take on quests that typically involve battling Shannons (the robotic minions of the series' antagonist, Boxmore). You unleash different combos depending upon the directional input of your attacks; for instance, players can juggle an enemy by uppercutting them into the air or knock them to the ground by holding down on the control stick while attacking. It's a simple but surprisingly flexible battle system, allowing young players to approach the game while still providing depth for older players to explore.
A further layer of depth comes from the aforementioned POW cards, which serve as the basis of the entire adventure. Your main objective is to collect POW cards and restore their powers because all of them have been reset to zero by Boxmore. After completing a quest for a certain character, you'll restore power to their POW card, which in turn allows you to equip it and summon their skills during a battle. Much of the fun of the game stems from trying out different combinations of POW cards; in our hands-on time with the game, we used K.O.'s friend Rad to run over foes with his van and summoned the hulking Mr. Gar while they were in the air to swoop in and spike them. Developer Capy Games says there will be many kinds of POW cards, each with unique abilities, giving players a lot of freedom in how they approach the game.
OK K.O. premiers on Cartoon Network this August, and it'll be followed by Let's Play Heroes this fall. The title is coming to PS4, Xbox One, and PC via Steam. For a closer look at Let's Play Heroes, be sure to check out our almost 20-minute playthrough of the game's demo at the top of this story.
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