Stan Lee's first foray into iOS gaming has debuted in the App Store. Verticus is an interesting take on the infinite runner and certainly has plenty of style to back up its premise. Has Stan Lee created another memorable addition to his stable of super heroes? Or is this title best left to fall into the void of obscurity?
There's no doubt that Stan Lee has had a huge effect on pop culture. A lot of his creations and co-creations are some of the most popular characters in the media, known the world over. But with that said, the man's entitled to a few misses. Verticus, his latest hero, is one of them.
The game puts you in the role of Verticus, a hero with a suit that, uh ... I guess lets him fall in style? The world is threatened when an alien race known as the Obliterators (gee, wonder what they do?), plant a bomb in the planet's core. It's our hero's duty to free-fall from space, down into the deepest reaches of the Earth.
Verticus will have to avoid floating bombs, EMP mines, robots called Gators, and environmental hazards as he makes his way down to the core. You can control him by pressing your thumb to the screen to activate a virtual thumbstick that can show up anywhere. The camera is in a fixed position in the middle, so you can maneuver him in a huge circle around it. This can make it a bit difficult to judge the position of collectibles like coins and purple orbs. At its worst, the angle makes it so that you look like you're about to dodge an obstacle, like rock formations or a bridge, but instead you end up smacking right into it.
Green triangles that you can pass through will let Verticus gain speed, though it's really of no consequence since you'll end up in the core within a few minutes anyway. A cross-section of the Earth in the top-right corner of the screen shows your position during the descent.
There are four distinct areas: the atmosphere, the city, the layers of the earth, and then the actual core. I'm guessing one of the suit's other functions is to protect Verticus from extreme temperatures as well. It won't take very long to get to the core, avoid being killed by the Obliterator boss, grab the bomb, and then burst out through the other side of the planet and into space. And then you get to do it all over again. Fun, right? Because beating a game in four minutes is such a thrilling experience that the developers expect you'll want to do it again and pay money for upgrades so that you can do it faster.
Verticus offers upgrades for the suit in return for the coins that you collect. The problem is that the upgrades come at a ridiculously high price and each run through the game yields a piddling amount of coins, even with bonus multipliers. So if you want to get upgrades (though I don't see how anyone would, considering the game can be completed in minutes), you'll have to spend real-world cash for them.
The one saving grace for Verticus is Stan Lee himself. Though he may not have created a particularly memorable or compelling character this time, he is present in the game as the Mission Commander, who narrates the action and urges Verticus on through the free-falling adventure.
I personally love it when Stan Lee lends his voice to cheesy superhero game, like in 2000's Spider-Man for the PlayStation. But with a $1.99 price tag on what is essentially a five-minute game, it isn't enough to save Verticus from falling out of favor. I'm still a true believer, Stan, but just not when it comes to this game.