Hero’s Duty Interactive Comic (iOS) Review
- Marketed toward older, action-oriented fans of Wreck-It Ralph
- Animation and sound effects makes comic come to life
Not so much?
- Quick read
- No voice acting or spoken narration
- Autoplay mode is too fast
- A little too dark and serious for small children
Hero’s Duty Interactive Comic carries very little Disney or Wreck-It Ralph branding, and appears to be marketed toward the older Wreck-It Ralph fan (or at least the ones that like their video games a little more action-oriented). It’s a 22-page motion comic that gives the backstory to the Hero’s Duty game, featured in the movie, as well as one of the main characters Sergeant Calhoun.
Wreck-It Ralph is a Disney computer-animated family film, but that doesn’t mean that it’s simply for children. It does take place primarily between a retro-style 1982 pixelated arcade game of Fix-It Felix, Jr., and a modern, candy-coated Mario Kart-like clone, Sugar Rush, which features cute and stylish Strawberry Shortcake-esque female drivers. Thanks to the savage and action-packed world of sci-fi shooter Hero’s Duty, there is some something more sophisticated for the preteens and young adults. By “sophisticated,” I of course means “guns and violence.” Unfortunately, we don’t get to see a lot of the cybernetic bug infested world of Hero’s Duty in the film. Thankfully, there are apps like the Hero’s Duty Interactive Comic to help fill-in those spots.
While the Apple App Store has its fair share of Wreck-It Ralph games and applications, it’s the Hero’s Duty Interactive Comic that interestingly carries very little Disney and Wreck-It Ralph branding. Outside of a small logo on the game’s icon, and the Disney logo on the splash screen, this app seemed to be marketed towards a non-Disney audience. Almost as if it’s designed for those gamers who may consider themselves to be too old to admit to liking Wreck-It Ralph, but still quietly enjoy some of the film’s content. It’s like the difference between driving a Scion and driving a Toyota. Scions are owned by Toyota, but if you wouldn’t know that unless you were really looking for it. Maybe the name Toyota, to the young, means old and boring, but Scions on the other hand, well they’re just the trendiest!
Hero’s Duty Interactive Comic is a prequel to the film’s video game world. To provide you with some context, in the film, Hero’s Duty is a light-gun-style first-person arcade game. The environment is dark and rocky, where massively armored space marines are at war with enormous cybernetic bugs. In the film there is a lot of gun fire and explosions (fiery ones as well as goo-bursting cy-bugs). The game is likely supposed to be a mix of Halo and Call of Duty, but Hero’s Duty actually feels more like world in the film Starship Troopers (minus the excessive violence and gore).
This interactive comic provides some back story for one of Wreck-It Ralph’s characters Sergeant Calhoun, who is voiced by Glee’s Jane Lynch. In the film we learn that during the battle against the cy-bugs, Calhoun fell in love with a fellow soldier, and were engaged to be married. During their wedding ceremony a surprise attack by the cy-bug resulted in her fiancee being gobbled up by a large bug.
The 22-page comic follows the tale of Calhoun’s future beau Brad, and how the two of them meet while fending off a cy-bug attack. We also learn that cy-bugs were originally intended to be a toy which grew and evolved alongside a child, but thanks to a greedy corporation, the cy-bugs became an ultimate weapon. Of course everything backfired and chaos, and world of quickly multiplying cy-bugs, was the result.
The app offers two ways of reading the comic. The default mode, allows you to read at your own pace. You are prompted to swipe your finger to proceed after each panel and page. The autoplay – obviously — automatically proceeds frame by frame, and page by page. I don’t really recommend autoplay because it ran too fast for my taste. Unless you’re a speed reader, or are just looking at the pictures, the app will leave you in the dust.
In terms of interactivity the only control you really have over the app is swiping to proceed with the story and turn pages. The app feels more like a motion comic, where frames and content slide into place. Some of the drawings will feature a brief animation, but offers nothing overly sophisticated. There are plenty of sound effects and music clips to help set the mood.
The one thing that I really felt was missing was any sort of narrative or voice track. For such a short story, which can be completed in about 10-15 minutes, I really felt that having the dialogue and narration acted out would have made for a much more enjoyable experience.
I also don’t recommend this app for very small children (keeps your eyes out for our forthcoming review of the story book app for Wreck-It Ralph, which I recommend that one instead). As I point earlier the Hero’s Duty Interactive Comic is branded in a way that separates this action-oriented and violent tale from the family-friendly Wreck-It Ralph film. While there is no blood or gore, there are some light swearing (“What the hell?”) and crude-sounding, but not offensive slang that you may not want your little ones repeating, like “shut your chew-hole.”
The Hero’s Duty Interactive Comic was reviewed on an iPad, but is also compatible with the iPhone and iPod Touch. The larger screen of the iPad is definitely nice, and feels more like a real comic book.
Considering normal comics cost at least $1.99, I thought this about the normal cost for most paper and non-interactive digital comics. The experience is over quickly, though.