Genre: Puzzle, Racing
Release Date: March 15, 2011
Platform: Nintendo Wii, Sony PSP
Price: $9.99 (OR LESS!)



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It appears that the future is upon us and as far as I can tell, it’s all about giant silver balls racing along rooftops. At least that’s what Vertigo for the PSP would have me believe.

The premise behind Vertigo is to control a giant sphere, or “Xorb” in this case, along sky-high tracks in an attempt to make it to the finish without running out of time or rolling off the edges. You’ll have to make your way through twists and turns, frequently speeding up for jumps or slamming on the brakes before flying off into the abyss.

The game requires a delicate balance of speed and finesse that will have you both pulling your hair out and jumping for joy, depending on your level of success. You can also trying jumping from platforms to lower portions of the levels, but if your shortcut bypasses a checkpoint you’ll receive nothing more than a “Level Failed” message waiting for you at the finish line.





There are a total of 54 stages that span 9 different worlds which can be played in a few different game modes. Career mode takes you from world to world, conquering all of the tracks one by one. Arcade mode lets you beat levels to unlock new levels through a pyramid-styled branching path. You can then go back to any finished stages and play through again to take different paths and unlock all the levels. There are also time-trials and a practice mode to help you learn the nuances of the more difficult stages, turning hair-pulling into joy-jumping. The final mode is called Xorb Bowling. Send your Xorb down the lane to knock pins over. You’ll have to make sure to go fast enough to knock pins down but so fast as to lose control or fly over the top of the pins entirely. You can also play Bowling with up to four friends.

The controls are extremely tight and have thankfully been kept simple. Use the directional pad or analog nub to move the Xorb; pressing X gives you a turbo boost, the O button is the brake and L and R move the camera. Its easy for a game like this to ruin itself with shoddy controls, but Vertigo is responsive to your commands at every turn.

Being “the future”, all the levels are full of neon lights, funky techno music and futuristic sound effects. They all work in a kind of silly “Future in the 80s” kind of way and add to Vertigo’s charm. Despite this, the graphics looked more like an original Playstation game and less like what I have come to expect from Sony’s current-gen handheld.

For more than twenty years I have waited for a modern remake of Marble Madness. Super Monkey Ball came close but it didn’t have the look of Midway’s arcade classic. Vertigo might not be Marble Madness ’11, but with Midway out of business it’s probably about as close as I’m ever going to get. And honestly, that’s not such a bad thing — Vertigo is fast paced and fun. It’s both futuristic and retro all at the same time which isn’t something a lot of games can say. It may sometimes make you want to launch your PSP across the room, but it fills a void that has been empty for a long time and is well worth taking a look at.














– Keith White Jr.

Follow Me @KeefWhiteJr