Verticus, an upcoming mobile game from comics icon Stan Lee, enlists anyone with an iPhone to save the Earth from alien invaders.
Lee and the game’s developers debuted a trailer for Verticus during a Saturday morning press conference at Comikaze, the homegrown pop culture convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
The trailer opens with a view of Earth from space as Lee’s distinctive voice narrates: “The world is in peril. An evil alien race known as the Obliterators has infiltrated the Earth’s core, where they’re constructing a horrific doomsday device… No weapon or ordinary human has any hope of reaching it in time, except for our hero.”
The hero is Verticus, a new character created by Lee for the game, which is slated for an October release. Verticus was developed by Moonshark, a fledgling publisher backed by CAA and Qualcomm. The company aims to connect Hollywood creative talent with independent game developers to create mobile games — like this summer’s DancePad, a popular app developed with Jennifer Lopez.
“There’s a massive explosion in mobile entertainment, and in particular mobile gaming, over the last few years,” said Moonshark’s chief executive Matt Kozlov. “On the one hand are Hollywood creators who are extremely talented and intelligent and creative and innovative, and who have spent their careers defining their style…. On the other side, there are tons of great independent game studios who are putting out phenomenal products that may not get noticed as well as they might deserve.”
Moonshark connected Dallas-based developer Controlled Chaos Media with Stan Lee to create the free-falling superhero game. The process was extremely collaborative, Kozlov said, and Lee contributed his likeness and voice talent (he voices the game’s mission commander) in addition to character and story design. Moonshark, which began in 2011, decided early on to recruit Lee.
“He has created literally the most beloved characters in the world and some of the most popular characters in the world, from Spider-Man to Iron Man to the X-Men to The Avengers,” Kozlov said. “Stan Lee is an American icon for hero development and character development, and in games, every game has a hero.”
In Verticus, Lee created a futuristic hero whose high-tech, heat-resistant suit allows him to freefall through the atmosphere, diving past skyscrapers and through caves and tunnels on a journey to the center of the Earth. In the core, Verticus does battle with the alien menace, defuses a bomb and comes up on the other side of the planet, ready to take on more missions using gravity to yo-yo through the Earth’s core.
Kozlov called the game “an infinite faller,” comparing it to the popular iOS game Temple Run. In typical arcade fashion, the game doesn’t end, but rather increases in difficulty. Players collect coins and orbs, allowing them to upgrade their suit and weapons. Gamers using social media will be able to compete against each other for high score and longest distance traveled.
Though the character wears a “Tron”-like suit, he bears some resemblance to classic superheroes like the Rocketeer and Iron Man.
“[Lee's] DNA is really infused in the game,” Kozlov said. “You, Verticus, are singlehandedly responsible for the fate of the planet. That’s a very Stan Lee conflict.”
The game will be available on all iOS devices — including iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch — this fall. No concrete plans have been made for an Android version, Kozlov said.
“We have a lot of great plans to expand the universe and to dive even further into this world and these characters,” he said.
– Noelene Clark
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