Is it a bird? Is it a plane? no, it’s an iPhone playing chillingo’s new superhero actioner.
The superhero game has never faired too well in video games. Sure there are some standouts throughout the years, mainly with Batman. But give the hero super powers, such as flight, and for some reason things take a turn for the worse. It’s strange really, I mean on paper it should work, but a look back at Superman 64 is evidence to the contrary.
Step up Chillingo then, with their latest title the Hero – created by Traplight Games – a side scrolling action game that puts you in the boots of a super hero and take flight to rid the world of evil.
You are presented each level with a large scrolling metropolis which you can explore at will. Each one getting larger and more detailed as you progress. Your mission is to rid the level of all wrongdoers. How do you do this? Fly into them of course. What makes this game a winner is in it’s simple game mechanic… playing like Mini Squadron but with people instead of planes, using a virtual stick (or accelerometer if you choose to) you simply point The Hero in the direction you want to go. As enemies appear, a small arrow pops up showing the direction of the threat, as well as flashing to indicate the importance, for example falling babies or timed bombs. Flying into the threat will destroy it, or in the babies case, save it. Most require a simple nudge, but larger enemies require more power. Luckily you have a button which will boost your speed in any direction, and turn you into a super powered battering ram. Power ups also become available, such as ‘freeze’ which lets you encase all enemies in the vicinity in ice, making it easier to pick them off one by one.
Being invincible of course means you can’t actually die, but with great power comes…. a great big head! Yes our hero thrives off his celebrity, as he’s only doing this for the fame. Dotted around the levels are civilians. High-fiving them as they lean out of windows will give you more fame, and in turn more power. Lose your fame though, either by not giving your public love, or by failing to destroy enemies in a timely fashion, and your power will deplete. Lose all your fame, and our Hero will simply stop dead in his tracks and turn his back on the world letting mayhem consume the city.
The Hero is presented in a great cartoon style. He wouldn’t look our of place in Pixar’s The Incredibles, with his big head, square jaw, broad shoulders… but tiny legs. When idle he strikes a pose and bobs up and down in the air, until you move the joystick and he hits flight pose. The enemies come in all shapes and sizes, from simple bombs, to parachuting babies, killer wasps, alien bugs, striped bank robbers, ninjas and large tanks. At times the levels can seem overwhelmed with enemies but, due to the cartoon graphics, the game never stutters and continues to scroll smoothly (60 frames per second on a 3GS). A nice touch is that you can fly our Hero high up into the sky, and to the edge of space, he peacefully bobs about and takes in the views… while no doubt contemplating his place in the universe.
The Hero is tremendous arcade style fun. It doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the table, but it somehow feels fresh none-the-less. It offers a generous amount of levels, replay value with the ever popular survival mode, a multitude of enemies in all shapes and sizes to keep things interesting and achievements and online leader boards to taunt your friends with. For only $1.99 it certainly packs a punch.