Hands-on with high score platformer game 1000 Heroz for iPhone
Aside from line-drawing and its endless Flight Control wannabes, perhaps no other type of game is more prolific on iPhone and iPod touch than the endless runner.
1000 Heroz can be counted among them, though Finnish developer RedLynx has a different take on the sprint platformer.
Rather than focusing on endless running and certain doom, this colourful high score chasing game focuses on short sprints and bits of humour in the race to hold your attention on iPhone and iPod touch.
0 to hero in 60 seconds
The game puts you in the shoes of a hero who must run through a brief level filled with pitfalls, raised platforms, and a variety of obstacles. Your goal is to post the shortest time, running and jumping your way through the level to reach the 'finish' line.
Floaty physics throw things for a loop, however. Your hero's head bobbles, momentum makes a running an effort, and nailing a long jump is all about timing.
While the exaggerated nature of the physics is a point of concern, it's an intentional move to encourage the development of skill.
In other words, RedLynx wants to push you into replaying each level in order to hone your skills and post your best possible time. Since each level is preset, you're able to memorise the layout and tackle it over and over again to get it just right.
1,000 hand-crafted levels on the wall...
With a new level and hero introduced daily, however, there's a limit to how much you can practise. True to its name, 1000 Heroz features 1,000 heroes, levels, and relics awarded upon successful completion of a stage. These aren't randomly generated, but individually crafted.
Each day brings a new level, hero, and relic. If you buy the game weeks after its initial release, you're welcome to go back to earlier days and play through those levels and unlock relics. Past levels are compiled into books, such as The Hungry Age of Famished Farmers, that act as histories of the 1000 Heroz world.
It's a fun setup that augments the natural inclination to come back to the game on a daily basis in order to post a high score. Not only is the urge to beat your personal best here, but you're rewarded with new content on a daily basis.
Relic hunting with friends
Although the differences among heroes are largely cosmetic, the levels and relics are unique. Levels come with distinct layouts, objects, and obstacles, whereas relics serve as quirky collectibles that chronicle your time spent with the game.
Along with regular items such as a fur coat and a lounge chair, there are oddball relics such as a pocket knife equipped with a revolver and a script for the world's deadliest joke.
Leaderboards and achievements also note your progress, although the game's most appealing feature is the ability to play in password-protected leagues.
Within these special groups you can track competition with friends with ease. This sort of attention to detail is exactly what has made previous RedLynx games successful. Even if the floaty platforming raises a red flag, the polish and feature set is noteworthy.
1000 Heroz will be available for iPhone and iPod touch this summer - no price has yet been announced.
Tracy Erickson 29/3/2011
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