It's very easy to bestow the pizza curse on someone - you just need to use the word "pizza" in their vicinity.
And just like that, I've just cursed you twice. Don't worry, though - all it does is make you want pizza, and I wouldn't be surprised if you stepped away from reading this just to order some. When you return, you can read about how Astrohound Studios has taken the curse to a new level. They've made a game called Pizza Hero where you're not seeking pizza - you are the pizza. Of course, this comes with its risks: every creature within a smell radius wants a bite out of you.
The thing I love about video games is that they've opened the doors for anyone and anything to be a hero if you just make it so. That's what I think happened when Pizza Hero was born - that or the designers were just hungry. The story is pretty straightforward, if you can believe that: A dog finds a discarded pizza box with a slice of pizza inside. He picks it up to do what comes naturally, only for the slice to spring to life with the help of a power pack built for flight and shooting stuff. It's good timing because, at that moment, the duo is surrounded by monsters and needs to cut their way through to victory.
You can't just rely on absurdity to sell a game - it needs to be functional and, one can hope, fun to play. Pizza Hero delivers on multiple fronts. It starts strong with a solid and detailed pixel art style. The pizza, the environments, the pet companions, the enemies, and the weapons all have sharp and colourful visuals to feast your eyes upon. Look too closely at the pizza and you may be tempted to lick your screen, but know that it doesn't taste even close to what you're imagining - trust me.
The sheer variety of the weapons and the enemies is impressive. Each topping grants you a different weapon, and they can all fit into different strategies. Some are better at eliminating enemies further away, while some are designed to give you more options - but you learn quickly that you can't stretch yourself too thin. The enemies will come in waves but can have different movement patterns designed to mess with your movement, while bigger enemies have the privilege to shoot projectiles at you. You'll come to depend on your pets and seek out any randomness in the field for any additional edge you can get.
While pizza has such a reputation that even looking at it leaves a good taste in your mouth, when you eat it too fast, you'll be scalded by what is right there in front of you. Pizza Hero burns the roof of gameplay's mouth with some technical issues. With all the sprite work and Survivors-like mechanics, this game needs to be able to handle a lot of things on and offscreen. Even with stronger devices like tablets, there's a risk of lag - which can break the flow and throw you into back-to-back damage during the spontaneous monster mosh pits.
In terms of the onscreen controls, these work well, but again comes down to actually following how the player will behave. It's a hectic style of game where sometimes you need to make quick decisions or just allow your panicked decisions to take effect. It becomes frustrating and disappointing when you're trying to do so, and then the game decides not to read your finger taps and slides because you've left the UI's limited field of vision. It's not a common occurrence, but it can happen at the absolute worst times.
Pizza Hero is a 2D top-down Vampire Survivors-like game about a flying piece of pizza with weaponized topping teaming up with animals to fight monsters. It's odd, humourous, nice to look at, and enjoyable to play, while also having a challenge to make you take it seriously. The technical issues of possible lag and controller neglect are apparent, but it is possible to adjust to them over time so that they don't drag down the experience. After all, this is pizza we're talking about, and any attempt to make it more heroic is an attempt that warrants another slice…with extra cheese, please.