Vertical 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.
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.