The Hotline Miami franchise is one for the ages.
At first, it’s a cheeky little fun bastard for all the wrong reasons; most of the allure is to satisfy a niche fantasy of playing Grand Theft Auto: Vice City in 8bit. The music is very decadent of the era and isn’t grossly overproduced or annoying. And that’s fine, considering it pretty much is a spiritual copy destined for pixelated greatness.
Then you play the damn game and realize the tremendous margin of error Dennation Games made in this action packed, shoot em’ up homage to the golden era of 1980s macabre, even among the initial hype of the original and subsequent sequel.
All the makings of a rainy day classic are there, but fall short just on directional practicality.
The central thematic concern of the protagonist unravels worse than the 1981 season of Saturday Night Live in an attempt to outdo every propaganda Anti-Communist B-movie the eighties ever spawned. It’s so bad that it makes Little Nikita appear to be an overlooked Oscar contender.
In 2016 it is a waste of creative energy to try and spread fear mongering against Russia, even in a period piece. Using a mentally disturbed assassin being forced into suicide missions from mysterious callers for the cause should be considered exploitative and xenophobic. What agenda is really going on when inference is given to crazy killers mowing down Russians in the name of America?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for freedom of speech and have no problems with the way the developers chose to tell this story. There just needs to be more responsibility in the thoughts and actions presented in a shoot em’ up title that thrives on killing a particular ethnic group or exploiting those than have mental illness. Slapping it together in a non-clear and concise manner with a rushed patriotism vamp for comedy carnage is just not funny.
The original premise becomes lost in the sequel as a floating plot point in between a weird mental breakdown of the protagonist. It is still unclear about the business with the film in production and how it’s used as a device to justify the carnage or the reveal of imaginary and real voices motivating the protagonist violent tendencies. It didn’t work for Hatred and IS Defense, and it is definitely not working for Hotline Miami.
However, the draw is the actual engagement in tackling the missions, which provides a great challenge for the self-proclaimed marksman. That is, until players fully understand what a pain in the ass all the enemies are in the quest of mowed down bodies.
It is utterly ridiculous how enemies attack you once and kill you instantaneously, but when the tables are turned they can respawn from a strike, or even crawl away. That literally means having to kill them one by one; if they gang up on you its lights out and checkpoint redux. Successes and failures in these endeavors are measured by letter grades, which definitely are not on a bell curve.
And that would be fine, had cheat codes been an option to truly indulge in the carnage.
Let’s call a spade a spade. The biggest injustice to the first Hotline Miami are the lack of hacks to present the option of infinite ammo, selection of weapons, and infinite health. Even the beloved entry this one spoofs had THAT. More disgustingly, the coding for the game was such a catastrophe that not even the known trainer scenes could make a trainer that could work with it.
After all, nobody likes a shotgun shootout with two shells and no options for reload.
So it should be no surprise that many players complained incessantly about bugs in both entries. Granted, this is the modus operandi of GOG Game titles (see Omerta: City of Gangsters for more details). When Cheat Engine is crashing and burning trying to run addresses to modify your indie game, you’ve definitely made a hell of a lot of wrong turns at Alberqueque.
To Dennaton Games credit, some things were cleaned up in Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number. Trainers were easier to make, but not without issues due to bad code on the developer side. However, it was still nice to have infinite ammo and limited infinite health for a short while. Whether or not the trainer was used, crashes were abounding at certain parts of the story, forcing replays that rarely saved in level progression.
No one likes a tease. Making a title with the it factor as a fun on the run shooter should not be bogged down with unnecessary baggage from personal biases and improper coding. And yes, cheat codes SHOULD be mandatory to get the full blissful experience of mowing down these tough little pricks that caused you unlimited do-overs.