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Johnny Nero Action Hero was made in 2004 by I.C.E. for the arcades. Sadly as of making this video the game can't be emulated. Therefore I played and recorded Johnny Nero from real arcade hardware. The original cabinet used the force feedback version of the 45 Cal. gun made by SUZOHAPP. The game gets more and more scarce because of a suicide battery, which helps keeping a key stored in the FPGA.
The game doesn't have much of a story to speak of. The player takes the role of Jonathon Nero, who is a comic book character. Three independent sceneries are available. In "Space Wars" humanity is in war with an alien empire. In "Curse of The Mummy King" Johnny is an archeologist and seeks for a gemstone in a cursed dungeon. "Ghost Town" is about a village in the Wild West which is attacked by zombies and ghosts. As a mercenary Johnny fights the leader of the attacks who is a demon sheriff.
The game just consists of three stages and is fairly short. From time to time Johnny gets into a dangerous situation which triggers a mini game. Dependant on whether the player manages to reach the quota of that mini game, Johnny finds a way out of the situation, or loses a chunk of health as a punishment. In total there are six mini games: Shooting meteors in an "Asteroids" like manner, shooting spaceships similarly as in "Galaga", shooting bugs, shooting mummies, shooting bottles and finally shooting cowboys in a "Hogan's Alley" type mini game.
Johnny Nero Action Hero can be played by one or two players simultaneously. Utilizing both guns there is a dedicated Akimbo mode which is called Guns of Fury. This mode plays a lot different from playing the two players mode alone. Instead of two distinct magazines there is a shared asset of bullets. Off screen shooting with either gun will reload this shared magazine. This Akimbo mode matches the action tone of the game very well. In most cutscenes Johnny is wielding dual guns too. As many enemies take multiple hits until they are defeated, this game can be a chore to the index finger when playing with just one gun. Distributing the effort to two hands, made a tremendous difference to me and I strongly prefer the "Guns of Fury" mode over the standard mode.
Left to the ammunition counter is the so called adrenalin rush meter. It is filled by shooting enemies and some destructible objects. Its level decreases if the player gets hit. Once it is full it triggers the so called adrenaline rush. For a limited time the player gets a spread shot weapon with unlimited capacity while Rock music is played in the background. Taking damage during adrenaline rush will decrease its duration. Losing a live in adrenalin rush will end it immediately. From time to time non hostile people run across the screen. The player looses health upon shooting them. Spinning objects are spread around the whole game. When they are shot they reveal items such as alternative weapons or health. Available are a shrink ray, a flame thrower, a shotgun and sticky dynamite bundles.
Even though the game is aimed towards children, it is pretty gory. Enemies are often dismembered. Especially the zombies and mummies take severe damage. The visuals morph between three dimensional animations and drawn comic cutscenes quite effortlessly. The music is fairly simple but never fails to match the tone of a scene.
Personally I like game. I don't consider it to be on par with the contemporary classics, but I had lots of fun exploring it. In many ways the game is very simple and it doesn't feel as well designed as some other arcade games. On the other hand this game is very ambitious considering its short length. Its selection of 30 enemy types and the 10 boss fights give the game a nice diversity. In my opinion the mini games break the flow of the game but I can't deny that their insertion is an original idea. I.C.E. is still operational today and I would love to see them helping to preserve this game or porting it onto another system.