Preview: Million to One Hero

24 Feb 2019
One of my creations in progress.

Creative games that let you build your own stuff are popular these days. I myself have spent a good deal of time streaming Super Mario Maker so people can watch me torture mysel…err…have a blast playing custom Super Mario adventures. It’s a lot of fun both making levels and playing other people’s creations – a dream come true of mine ever since Super Mario Bros. 3, when I made up my own levels on graph paper back in the day as a kid. So it’s no wonder why such games have been enjoying success.

Now we come to my inbox, with an invitation from Over the Top Games to try a game called Million to One Hero, a game that offers another custom world for me to play in. Needless to say, I was excited. The game starts up with Chronos, Greek God of Time, rambling on about modern things like Netflix and video games, before introducing you to a hero of ancient times, Epicus, who failed at being a hero 999,999 times before finally succeeding. Now, hopefully, I will be able increase his success rate as I guide him through this Ancient Greek-themed world.

The graphics use colorful pixel art, reminiscent of early platform games on the PC. It does feel a bit generic, and I would like to see more tilesets, but what is there looks great and there are plenty of decorative objects to liven up the landscape. The music is pretty good and suits the game, although there are only a few tracks and they are rather short. I imagine that the selection will increase over time though.

In Play mode, you have the option of playing individual levels, complete “Adventures” containing multiple levels on a world map, along with a weekly challenge. Your hero, Epicus, definitely has a bit of a Mario feel, with momentum to his movement, powerups to collect, and enemies to fight, though he’s equipped with a sword to use instead of jumping on things. The control is fluid and there are a variety of movement mechanics. Epicus may not be Mario, but he’s definitely a capable platform jumper and felt really good to play. He does has the added bonus of a life meter (though some hazards can one-hit kill). The one thing I felt was missing, though, is big boss monsters to fight, and none of the levels I played really tried to set up a boss encounter type of thing (so far.) Hopefully that will make it’s way into this Early Access title.

Every level you play was created in the in-game editor, so naturally you’re going to want to try your hand at it yourself. The good news is the editor is very easy to use, and very closely follows the example set by Mario Maker, with many of the same components, objects, and features. Million to One Hero goes a step further, though, and includes a simple logic-gate based scripting system that potentially allows you to create complex puzzles and goals (although I had a hard time figuring out how to set them up). Many objects have options, and you can just click on them and then click icons to make your platform-on-rails move quicker, make deadly lasers spin faster or slower, and so on. There is a lot to work with and you’ll probably spend many hours before unlocking the full potential the editor has to offer.

I spent many of the hours for this preview in the editor, as I do in just about any game that has one, and managed to upload something I thought was pretty challenging, as it took me a while to upload it. Just like with Mario Maker, you must beat a level in order to upload it. However, you don’t have to play the level from every checkpoint – a flaw that could allow levels to be uploaded that are potentially impossible from a checkpoint.

This game is very much a Mario Maker clone on PC, and while I keep bringing that name up, it should be considered high praise. Million to One Hero is well made with most of the spit and polish of any commercial release. If you really enjoyed Mario Maker and have been wanting something like it on PC, then I have no doubt you will have a good time with this; I definitely recommend it. Million to One Hero is available on Steam Early Access from February 27th, 2019.

Preview copy provided by Over the Top Games on Steam. Screenshots taken by author.