There is something special about skin-tight spandex and inverted underwear that positively warms our hearts. Chillingo and Traplight Games have captured the essence of that specialness and synthesized it for the iPhone, with the release of The Hero [AppStore].
The Hero is a largely understated title for a game that puts you squarely in the rubber shoes of a top-heavy, Mr. Incredible-esque crime fighter with a penchant for destruction derby and loop-the-loops. Our brave hero zooms in from space, taking it upon himself to fly around each gorgeously crafted city to complete a number of tasks (by ramming them with his head) to keep secure his charges (the fair citizens), whilst causing as little damage as possible to the surroundings itself.
Of course, asking our Hero to go about his duty of catching falling babies, putting out fires, culling down the army, killing giant insects or downsizing orbital laser-barraging satellites (to scrape but the surface of his repertoire) without the occasional high-five would just seem rude. If The Hero has started to sound absolutely insane, that's only because it is. That simple fact can also be credited with why collecting High Fives from the town's citizens is the fuel source for your three super powers -- Freeze, Blast or Zap-- each of which help cut down your foes when you're feeling overwhelmed.
And overwhelmed you will be, as though The Hero starts of at a very relaxed (almost boring) pace for the first 5 or so levels, those who stick with it are rewarded with a manic adventure that will test your digit reflexes. The Hero has two control options to direct his flight, a virtual analogue stick or a tilt option; your Hero handling much more like a bi-plane than a Batman. This may seem frustrating at first, as you attempt to wrest your Hero into pulling tight turns to little avail, until you realise that the controls more closely resemble games like MiniSquadron, requiring you to loop to turn around. You attack enemies by simply ramming them, assisted by a boost button or by letting loose with one of your superpowers, which are gradually unlocked in the Campaign mode.
The Hero measures your progress each level by your ever present Fame meter. If you fail to stop the incidents being brought to your attention or if you receive damage yourself, your fame will decrease. If your fame reaches zero before completing all the assigned tasks it's "Fame Over", and you have to restart the level, something you'll see quite regularly as The Hero is certainly no walkover. The Campaign levels pose their own individual challenges too, tied together in a very loose but very funny storyline. There are 15 Campaign levels to complete on both Easy and Hard difficulties. There is also a Survival mode with 4 increasingly large and challenging cities that are gradually unlocked, where your Hero faces all manner of obstacles to build up the best score possible.
It's hard not to recommend The Hero simply due to its terrific style and over the top humor. Whilst some may find the airplane-like handling of The Hero to be counter-intuitive and awkward, those open to the gameplay will undoubtedly enjoy cannonballing through an army of enemies, including a number of challenging boss archetypes too. The open-ended Survival mode will whet competitive appetites and potentially add many more hours to The Hero's already substantial content. Oh, and did we mention you get to fight Zombies?
Be sure to check out the gameplay trailer above for a further look at The Hero. Impressions from our discussion forums are flowing in thick and fast, and are overwhelmingly positive. And a heads up to you lucky 3GS owners, there's an easily overlooked option which switches on a 'high' 60-fps mode.
App Store Link: The Hero, $1.99.