The Retro Critic

My Hero

Do not let the crappy-looking start-up screen or the cutesy title above fool you, My Hero is not for the faint of heart.

Released for the arcade back in 1985, the game followed a dude whose girlfriend is randomly kidnapped by a street thug going after the latter in an epic beat ’em up journey which involved ninjas and ape men.

When the game finally landed on the Sega Master System a year later, however, the whole sci-fi/fantasy theme was toned down and the three levels (which go on and on in a continuous loop unless you die) became the city streets level three times instead of depicting three different locations.

The core “plot,” which belongs in a silent movie or an old Popeye cartoon, remains the same.

Plot My Hero

Plot 2 My Hero

Talk about having a bad day!

I like that the guy’s first instinct isn’t calling the police but putting his karate skills to the test by going on some thug-hunting suicide mission like he’s Steven Seagal.

The graphics are pretty basic, nothing too worthy of mention there, really. The music, though, is pretty awesome I think you’ll agree:

I mean, is this a rescue mission or is the dude on his way to a Bar Mitzvah?

This really isn’t the angsty heavy metal tune I was expecting, frankly. I like it, though: the bouncy beat keeps you nice and on edge throughout, which doesn’t help when you’re meant to slow down and pay attention to whatever jumping, spitting frogs stand in your way.

Frogs My Hero

The enemies you face are about as ridiculous as you’d expect. I mean, sure there’s no ape men, but the remaining sprites are still completely random and arbitrary.

I get why the street thugs are there, obviously, but why am I having to kick several bulldogs in the face?

Bulldogs My Hero

I guess if I’m desperate for logic I could just assume that the thugs just released the hounds on me Mr Burns-style but why then am I also having to jump over pigs in the middle of the city?

Pig My Hero

These street thugs are either the most creative street thugs out there or a travelling bunch of bad-tempered farmers with a lot of time on their hands.

The techniques they use to get rid of me are unexpected, granted, but they are also lazy. They could, of course, send a car after me and shut me down that way but no.

These guys have seen The Dead Pool, the ONLY Clint Eastwood movie with a remote-controlled car chase scene (and Jim Carrey).

Toy Car My Hero

They know how scary toy cars can be.

Turns out… not really that scary at all.

At best, these thugs’ plans are more annoying than genuinely threatening, even if they make the game difficult. In fact, I’d say that the most dangerous enemy in the game is fire!

Fire My Hero

That jump, believe it or not, isn’t all that easy to get right.

Fire, much like sand, gets everywhere.

Plus it’s always awkwardly placed so it’s usually hard to avoid and that’s likely to break your flow.

There, that should clear that up for ya.

The game’s often mentioned for its difficulty and how short it is but I should point out that it’s also pretty fun. The punches and karate kicks you throw are awesome because they send bad guys literally flying off-screen, which is always enjoyable to watch.

Fly Kick My Hero

Another cool thing is how light-hearted and knowingly silly it is.

The main boss you face is the street thug who kidnaps your gal and you usually fight him on a beach at sunset somewhere. Now, that seems to me like a weirdly romantic place to have a punch-out but I guess if it’s good enough for Mission: Impossible II, it’s good enough for My Hero.

Take that as you will.

Face Off My Hero

Anyway so the way you fight this guy is rather frustrating: you walk up to him and try to hit him but he keeps stepping back constantly, which doesn’t help.

Basically, you just have to be as feisty and insistent as you can and try to get any sort of hit without letting him get close to you. It can take some time but stick to your technique and you should win eventually.

Boss Fight My Hero

Now if that’s not winning I don’t know what is.

Every time you do win, by the way, your character gloats as his girlfriend is finally freed.

Boss Win My Hero

But this game does not reward gloating or any kind of selfishness.

This game, in fact, I would argue is a deep message about reaching one’s goals and how you can lose sight of what matters. My Hero, in many ways, is a clever 8-bit existential pondering about Man’s lack of nobility and humbleness. This is why the game is an endless loop: because that’s what you get for being a self-involved fool!

Look what can happen:

Rekidnapped My Hero

Maybe this guy doesn’t deserve to save his beloved!

Though his efforts are admirable, he is certainly no hero.

Which brings an ironic dimension to the game’s melodramatic title: no matter how heroic this man’s actions may seem, they are but a smokescreen for how careless and happy with himself he is.


Guy My Hero

Is the face of our weakness and, ultimately, our doom.

Or not, whatever.

I recommend you try the game since it is genuinely likeable and entertaining. It’s nothing special, really, but if you’re looking for an engaging, colourful challenge then this is a good one. And if you don’t believe me when I say the game is tough, check this screenshot out:

Fire Thug My Hero

I mean, obviously we’ve all been in this situation but I think you’ll agree it’s not something you’d want to get up to every Wednesday.

I’d much rather sit at home and listen to this game’s music on a loop, personally.

Mazal Tov.