Vertical Drop Heroes!


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Rating: 4.1/5 (149 votes)
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DoraVertical Drop Heroes!Vertical Drop Heroes! by Nerdook is platforming meets action meets Plinko. The goblins have captured the princesses and, in a remarkable bit of foresight, have also rounded up and locked away every single hero the land has to offer, leaving the king with no choice but to turn to you for help. The game is played on a vertical field where you start at the top and work your way downwards, collecting treasure, trouncing enemies, and rescuing your fellow heroes along the way. At the bottom of most levels you'll find a key that will let you access the temples where the princesses are being held... or you might find a super powered monster looking to eat your face.

Move with [WASD] or the [arrow] keys, and activate whatever special powers you might have with the [spacebar]. In the beginning, the only special ability you have as boring ol' you is "try not to die"; you can kill some enemies by jumping on them, but for stronger foes you'll need to bring out the big guns by rescuing heroes more qualified than you. To rescue a hero, stand on top of their cage and press [down]; doing so will actually transform you into the hero and grant you their abilities. Just be careful since a single hit will make you lose those sweet new skills and turn you back into Generic Guy Who Runs Away A Lot, and too many hits means death. (So be sure to keep an eye out for red health potions!)

You can unlock various abilities for each class that you can set before you start a new level. The Ranger, for instance, has a Hydra Arrow technique that allows three arrows to be shot at once, while the Mage has a Soul Rip spell that will destroy every enemy on screen. (And presumably makes you really unpopular at parties.) Although nifty, these abilities usually eat up a lot of your limited pool of mana, so use them wisely. When you're done with Story Mode, you can also check out Survival Mode, and even 2 Player Mode, which allows you to duke it out with a friend at the same keyboard, or with the computer AI.

Vertical Drop Heroes!Analysis: These days, developers are under more and more pressure to put out "original" game concepts and ideas. It doesn't matter how good looking or polished your platformer is; there will always be people waiting to point out that it's "just" a platformer. While you might not agree with that sentiment, everybody should agree that developer Nerdook have been busy establishing himself as someone who thinks outside the box by combining different genres, and being remarkably open to feedback from fans in an effort to tweak and polish his games. Vertical Drop Heroes! is an odd combination; Nerdook calls it an "RPG meets Tetris", but I would more compare it to certain levels of SNES-era Mario meets Zelda. It's bright, cheerful, and very different.

Vertical Drop Heroes! isn't particularly difficult unless you set out intending to unlock absolutely everything. Unless you're a completionist and absolutely must collect every coin you can to unlock Bigby's Swooning Mustache for your character, there's no real reason not to just grab your favourite character class and fall down either side of the screen to the bottom with minimal interruption along the way. The various stages also feel a bit too similar to each other to really seem distinct apart from aesthetics, and as such the gameplay winds up feeling a bit one-note. What's nice is that the different skills you unlock for each hero can completely change how they play. This gives you a reason to try out all of them, and keeps each hero from feeling identical to one another. Unfortunately, the Thief still winds up feeling like he controls the smoothest next to the comparatively slow and clunky other classes, and will probably be a favourite one you unlock an attack ability for just that reason.

But while I might liked to have seen a bit more variation in the gameplay beyond "fall down and try not to die", Vertical Drop Heroes! is still fun and charming and easily worth a play if you've been looking for something different. Plus, I think we can all agree we've harbored the secret desire to own both a monocle and a beanie at some point in our lives. Not only does Vertical Drop Heroes! indulge that fantasy, you get to rescue the princess at the same time. Suave.

Play Vertical Drop Heroes!

30 Comments

Controls are terrible. Is this just me? Other than that this game is good.

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This is a fun game.
I am having trouble unlocking abilities for characters, though. I have Familiar, Hammer Arror, and Wrist Blade.
Sometimes a character's double-jump doesn't work, but I still think its enjoyable.
XD
I'm going for all abilities and all masks, so I keep getting frustrated.
I <3 the thief once he can attack.

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You earn an extra life by

completing a level without being hurt.

You earn artifacts by

doing what the level asks you to. So far I've seen different amounts of gold.

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Nerdook is quickly establishing himself as one of the best flash developers

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Uhmm... is the point of most classes to have awful control? Because if I press left, im stuck running left for a couple of minutes, and then if I turn to go right, the same thing. Jump time lags, and openening cages lag.

I am on a vista on internet explorer.

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Fun little time waster. Nothing too deep, just enough to kill a little time. I'm a little frustrated with obtaining some of the masks, however. I've completed levels using only the Barbarian, Paladin and Thief, yet the game will not give me the associated masks. I've gotten masks for finishing only using the Ranger and Mage, however.

Anyone have any ideas as to why this happens? At first, I thought it might be that I lost that particular heroes abilities and then regained them, until I finished a level flawlessly with the Thief.

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The thief seems inspired by garrett from the Thief series, with the hood and eye scar :)

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Okay, nevermind, just got all three of those masks (the last three, I might add) without a hitch. Not sure why it didn't work before.

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menschenjaeger August 26, 2010 2:10 PM

Am I missing something, or is there no save feature/continue feature? It saves all my masks/artifacts, but I keep having to start from the beginning, which gets a little annoying. But maybe it's right there and I'm not seeing it.

I was kind of hating the game in the beginning, but once you score a few artifacts, the fun arrives. Particularly the runes that allow you to keep heroes after taking damage.

On one occasion, I finished a level with a Paladin, only to be stuck in a hole (no double jump!) after scoring my first hit on a boss. Me being stupid again, or is this a problem that can only be solved by suicide?

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No, there's no progress save feature, but the game takes about fifteen minutes total to finish, so it doesn't seem necessary.

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Anonymous August 26, 2010 4:11 PM

I think there's a bug- against the first boss (Jinxed Jackal), if you bring a Paladin in against him you automatically lose. He can't hurt you but you can't reach him because there's a hole in the way, and you can't double-jump. Aww.

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For bosses which you can't reach, let yourself get hit so you revert back to normal status. That way you can reach the bosses no problem. This game is ok, got bored of it after a few levels though.

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repairmanman Author Profile Page August 26, 2010 5:46 PM

do not use the invulnerability armor if you want to face bosses, the paladin can't even jump up 1 block with it

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thanks for the fair review! hope everyone will enjoy the game... oh, and do give the two player mode a try, you can set the AI to be your partner if you can't find a friend. :)

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My biggest issue was getting into situations that were unwinnable - for instance, there's an artifact for the Paladin that halves jump height - which means you can't even jump one block up, so it's really, really easy to get stuck. Even without that, there were a couple times when the random generation put me between a three-high wall and the edge of the screen. I think the thief might be able to double-jump out of that, but nobody else can. Very frustrating.

Next-biggest issue was how repetitive it was. Not a big enough issue to stop me playing through, but certainly enough to stop me from being a completionist. There's just not much difference between levels, and even the bosses are almost identical. I thought the artifacts were kinda cool, but not worth grinding to pick up. Honestly, even without artifacts, the thief's mobility is such a game-winner (or, perhaps more accurately, everyone else is so pathetic) that I'd take a bare thief over an artifact-powered other class any day.

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cinder calhoun August 26, 2010 7:16 PM

I find this game addicting once you start getting the different artifacts. I find the rogue with the evasion amulet to be particularly effective. Also the necromancer.

@menschenjaeger -
Doesn't the paladin have the 'stop' ability that breaks the block beneath you, thus allowing you to continue on?

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BuenoCabra Author Profile Page August 26, 2010 10:14 PM

I have been loving this game. It's a great concept and so many variables that keep it fun for a long time. I had a couple of gripes, but nothing too serious.

Then, this happened:
http://img828.imageshack.us/img828/2314/stupidgame.jpg

After I died several times trying to defeat a boss, I finally got to him with the Barbarian and beat him. Then I got hit with a stray spear in the last few meters. Not that it mattered, since none of the classes would have helped here with the artifacts I had equipped.

I've gotten stuck in a couple of places I couldn't jump out of, and that's no fun, but this is different. It's flat out ridiculous. I'm unable to swallow this as "just part of the game" and have to direct my rage toward the developer. Wish I hadn't already rated it a 5.

It's a shame, because I was really loving this game. Done with it now, though. :(

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BuenoCabra, actually, you could have gotten her if you had the paladin using his stomp ability. Agree that it's definitely NOT ideal, though.

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You can get new artifacts two ways:
#1: Meeting the gold goal will get you both an artifact and an extra life.
#2: Temple levels always give you an artifact, whether or not you meet the gold goal.

Runes are special. They provide a modest benefit to all your classes. The paladin's Rune of Endurance may be the best one, as it allows you to avoid losing your hero when you take a hit (as long as you can pay the 5 MP activation cost). If you prefer the "vanilla" version of a given hero, there is almost always no reason not to use their rune. The Ranger might be the only potential exception.

For the curious, the artifacts are as follows:

Barbarian (can double jump, has a melee attack)

Shadow Scimitar: Replaces Berserk. Creates two copies of you that run away like morons in both directions. Not very useful.
Berserker Mask: Replaces Berserk unless no enemies are onscreen. Teleports to all enemies on screen in turn and kills them rapidly Pretty good, but it can leave you stuck!
Broadsword: Lets you deflect missiles. Eh.
Summoned Swords: Sends two swords spiraling outward. Can destroy chests. Very inaccurate.
Bloodlust: Leaves your default Berserk ability, but grants you health and double gold while using it. Missable.
Rune of Revenge: Grants all heroes 10 seconds of invincibility when they hit 1 health. One of the least useful runes.
Personal Favorite - Berserker Mask

Mage (fireball can break blocks)

Necromancer Robes: Replaces fireball. Creates a kill-all effect that lasts for several seconds and gives +1 gold per kill. Very nice, but leaves you no way to destroy blocks. Also relatively cheap for its effect!
Icicle Staff: Replaces fireball. Your projectile turns normal blocks and enemies into breakable ice blocks. Not as useful as being able to straight-up destroy blocks, probably.
Warlock's Familiar: Replaces fireball. Summons a demented raven that careens insanely around and SOMETIMES decides to destroy enemies.
Staff of Flames: Increases the cost of fireball, but flings them in a burst: Out to the sides, straight up, and diagonally upwards in both directions.
Sanctuary Staff: Creates an effect that smashes open all chests (which you could do if you could reach them anyway, and if you can't, you can't get the treasure), and restores HP (nothing wrong with that).
Rune of Energy: For all heroes, max mana gets +15, energy potions restore 10 mana. Not bad!
Personal Favorite - Necromancer Robes

Paladin (sluggish, has a melee attack, can stomp to destroy most floors)

Dragonlance Boots: Stomp affects every block below the paladin. Slightly more economical. Otherwise pointless.
Platemail Armor: Can stomp for free, and gain TOTAL INVULNERABILITY. The downside is that you will almost inevitably end up stuck somewhere because you can barely move at all.
Ironmirror Shield: Deflects missile attacks. S'alright.
Chainlink Armor: Better movement but vulnerable to missile weapons.
Holy Shield: Functionally, an extra hitpoint. Yehaw.
Rune of Endurance: All heroes are NOT lost when you are hit, as long as you can pay the 5 MP cost.
Personal Favorite - Rune of Endurance

Ranger (can double jump, fires arrows)

Shadow Arrows: Arrows can pass through blocks and enemies. Why?
Stonebreaker Arrows: Arrows can smash blocks. Definitely handy for not getting stuck or getting at treasure.
Cleric Robes: Enemies turn into health potions when killed. Handy if you die a lot.
Arrows of the Hydra: Fires additional pair of arrows at 45 degree diagonal.
Raven Wings: Double jumps cost 1 MP, but you can do as many of them as you want.
Rune of Rescue: All characters' projectiles can smash cages, causing them to drop treasure like smashed chests.
Personal Favorite - Raven Wings

Thief (agile as heck, can double jump, can hit space to teleport randomly)

Assassin's Amulet: Invulnerable for two seconds after using escape. Can prevent some disasters, but teleport is usually relatively safe.
Wristblade Daggers: Thief gains a melee attack. The shuriken is better.
Black Shuriken: Projectile attack. Bounces off of targets and can potentially destroy others.
Pendant of Evasion: Any time you would take damage, you instantly trigger escape instead if you can avoid it. Practical invincibility as long as you don't let your MP run out.
Robe of Shadows: Screen turns black for five seconds. You gain three gold per second and cannot interact or be interacted with by enemies or blocks. Also seems to cause weird issues with the screen scrolling way faster than normal.
Rune of Greed: All heroes gain +2 gold from treasure chest items.
Personal Favorite - Pendant of Evasion

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I love this game! I am more of a "treasure hunter + collect them all" type of person. So even if story was standard, the little details and achievements made it fun =) Like the comic in the beginning your hero shadow changes to what ever mask you beat the game with. It was interesting to see what every artifact does to each hero. Overall it was a fun little cute game that I'd enjoyed =)

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thanks for all your comments! glad you enjoyed my game.

@buenocobra: i'm sorry that the game made you so disappointed and angry, agreed that the random generator does throw out some really unexpected duds sometimes. would need to work on it some more. my apologies!

also, side note: the different levels actually have different hazards, with the 'forest' being the safest. 'Desert' levels have the sinking sand blocks, 'ice' levels have ice blocks and geysers, while the 'temple' and 'volcano' levels are much more dangerous.

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StaleMilk August 27, 2010 10:35 AM

I might just be missing something completely obvious but how do you see the achievements for each level?

Apart from that, this game is very very god as a fifteen minute break. I personally like the ranger and barbarian best.

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Sure there could be some refinement with the procedural level generation, but this game is not a serious plotty game. It's quick, light arcade platformer. You'll run into things like pits and such now and then, but you just press q to quit, take the hit and try again. It doesn't happen that often.

(Barbian's Omnislash is win, especially against bosses.)

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ThenAgain Author Profile Page August 27, 2010 6:51 PM

Some more set levels would be a good thing to add, I think. Special level designs that are already laid out such as graveyards or specific towers or something with a special boss at the end.
I've rather enjoyed it so far, now just to work on getting all the artifacts.

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The biggest annoyance, to me, was the ginormous tips/hints bubble that pops up and follow you. "Mage can throw a fireball by pressing the spacebar!" for what seems like an eternity, blocking a good portion of the screen, causing me to miss treasure and get hit several times. Make it go away much, much quicker, make it semi transparent, and have an option to turn them off. I quit playing the game because of this.

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BuenoCabra Author Profile Page August 28, 2010 2:11 AM

@nerdook:

Sorry if my comments were harsh; I was raging at the time. It's still a really fun and solid game overall. Virtual pat-on-the-back to you!

I agree with Tempos about the tutorial pop-ups. Maybe just have them in a static position at the top or bottom?

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Fun game, but it's definitely quite frustrating to get stuck, especially at the very end with the princess... I huess there's not much you can do about that with the random generator, though. But still, quite a bit of fun! I just wish the characters weren't all so horizontally sluggish (except the Theif).

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The Thief rocks with the wristblade daggers *-*

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Leopardmask Author Profile Page March 21, 2014 8:12 PM

The random generation can be a little annoying, but otherwise I love this game! My favorite classes being Ranger and Mage, because I'm all about the long-range weaponry. Especially when it can break trapping blocks.

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Questioner Author Profile Page April 26, 2014 3:17 AM

I believe something is wrong...

I've finished the game 3 times, and gotten almost all artifacts and masks. The only one left is the mask you get for finishing after beating a boss. For me, the bosses never appeared. Any idea what the error could be?

Another thing is that the exit appears three times for me, shouldn't it only appear once?

/Questioner

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