American Hero is a Full Motion Video (FMV) game that was originally released for the Atari Jaguar in 1994 and only in Europe and Japan. I hadn’t heard of American Hero until recently, and that was because it was never publicly released beyond the Atari Jaguar which suffered a commercial failure. A restored version of the game was released for Windows in 2021 by Ziggurat Interactive and Empty Clip Studios and subsequently released on Xbox, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation consoles. American Hero Unrated has just released for PC exclusively on GOG on July 4, 2023, with uncensored adult nudity, expletives, gore, and adult content that was recorded and never used. You can watch the age-gated trailer here.
Initially developed by Inter-Active Productions, the game starred several Hollywood actors of the time such as Timothy Bottoms, Daniel Roebuck, Gustav Vintas, and Musetta Vander. In American Hero, players take the role of former military intelligence operative Jack Devon, tasked by his ex-partner Hoover with finding a missing biologist (and former crush), Laura, who developed an antidote to a deadly virus created by germ warfare specialist Karl Von Kruger. It’s as cheesy as you would expect, and it was so bad that I couldn’t stop playing as I just had to find out what happened next.
Due to the original recording of the footage in the oldschool 4:3 aspect, the user interface has been designed with some VHS tapes either side of an old CRT in the centre of the screen. It’s quite a cool not to nostalgia buffs like me and a genius way of retaining the quality of the original and presenting it onto modern TVs and monitors. I started playing the game using the mouse however I had issues with it accepting choices at key moments, so I switched to playing with controller and it ran well after that.
The game starts in a strip club as Jack Devon watches his favourite stripper dancing on stage. In the regular version, the dancer is wearing a bikini but in American Hero Unrated, she is half naked, as are most of the ladies on stage. Here, Jack is met by an army general (Daniel Roebuck) who tells him that the nefarious Doctor Kruger is up to his old tricks again. Jack is seemingly uninterested in an evil plot involving a mind control virus with his focus on the dancer in front of him. That is until he hears that his ex-girlfriend Laura has been captured.
It’s at this point where the first of many choices is presented to the player. Remembering that this is an early 90’s, two choices are presented to you quickly flashing from the dancer beckoning you closer or sticking with the general’s conversation, and both have a one-word description of the choice. In this first choice, choosing to go with the dancer will see you having a raunching good time with her, however, linger too long and it’s revealed she’s working for Von Kruger and injects a substance into your neck, killing you. A short death scene is played where everyone is standing over your tombstone, all upset and somber.
When you die in the game, which happened a lot for me, you restart playing from a previous checkpoint. As this was the very beginning of the game, I hadn’t reached a checkpoint yet, so I had to painstakingly watch the intro scene again. Siding this time with the general, he lays out a plan to infiltrate a science lab where Laura is being held. Outside the strip club we are given a choice of two directions to start our journey, and the one I chose had a truck start barrelling towards Jack. He starts running and we see a painfully slow scene of switching from the truck’s viewpoint chasing him down, to the camera being in front of him as he’s running away. I was given a choice of escape route options, but I was too slow, and the truck ran over Jack – enter the same death scene that we saw earlier.
You can see where the story is headed and all throughout, we are given choices for what to do next. It’s a choose-your-own adventure style of playing a game, and there have been many FMV games produced since then (quite a lot released in the last couple of years actually). American Hero Unrated though has that mix of 90’s film quality and cringe-worthy dialogue, with a raunchy sex scene one minute and then a gun shootout the next. It has some great humourous moments and given the number of choices available, it has multiple endings to experience.
The interface is quite clunky and while it does save checkpoints, there’s no way to save scum and choose different options quickly. If you want to try different options, you must start a whole new game but even then, I saw no clear option to be able to do that other than uninstalling and reinstalling the whole game. American Hero Unrated is often so bad that it was good, and I kept playing as I wanted to see the story unfold. If you’re a fan of 90s action movies, then you’ll likely get some laughs and enjoyment out of the game.
This review utilised a key provided by UberStrategist PR and American Hero is available on Nintendo Switch and PlayStation, with American Hero Unrated available on GOG.