Trust Stan Lee to steer clear of convention. The superhero creating legend of the comic world (he gave us Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, and many others, for those not too steeped in comic history) has stepped into casual gaming with Verticus – a $0.99 offering for iOS. And at a time when the world is going crazy into endless running games, he has decided to use the same concept. With a spin.
Verticus, you see, is a game which is all about falling.
The rationale is simple – an alien race called the Obliterators have found their way to the Earth’s core where they are building a machine that will destroy the world. There is only one way to save the day – don the suit of our fearless hero and fall towards the Earth, dodging mines and picking up coins, boosters and other articles the way, and then indeed tunnel to the very core of our planet and destroy the diabloical machine.
Think of Verticus as Temple Run in reverse. You control the direction in which your character keeps falling by using an onscreen D-pad that, in a very neat touch, can appear on either side of the display – so left-handers can play it as comfortably as right-handers can. Your task is to keep swerving past bombs and landmines, slaloming between them, and all the time trying to improve your prospects of survival by collecting orbs, coins and other boosters – some could improve your armour, some could increase your speed and so on. You can also use coins and orbs collected to boost up your suit and equipment and if you are falling short, well, you can just purchase some (aha! The in-app purchase beast rears its head). And just as in Temple Run, the long you travel and the more goodies you collect, the better you are seen to have done.
It is incredibly simple and is helped along the way with some decent, comic-book like illustrations (including Stan Lee himself as a Mission Commander who keeps exhorting you to do a bit more – very gruffly). All of which makes Verticus perhaps the most addictive game that we have played for a while. Yes, we would have perhaps have loved an element of motion-sensing – tilt your device to play – in it, but even in its current avatar, what shines right through is its incredibly simple gameplay, garnished liberally by some typically over-the-top dialogues, comic strip intermissions and scenarios by Stan Lee. Does our hero EVER reach his goal? Ah, we are not telling you that – find out for yourself.
Download it. Get addicted. The endless falling game era has begun. Now, bring it to Android, Sir Stan.
Available from: iTunes App Store ($0.99)