The life and times of Steve Wozniak are awesome enough already. But now Woz can add ‘becoming an in-game character alongside a badass movie star’ to his achievements — having been rendered in pixel-form for a retro 8-bit style iOS platform game called Vengeance: Woz with a Coz. The legendary Apple co-founder also lends his voice to the game, for voiceover and sound effects, and apparently helped write the script (replete with Spanglish exclamations such as “oh tortillas!” and “ah tequila!”).
The story kicks off with Woz and his wife, J-Woz, taking a romantic segway ride together through the dreary, industrial wasteland of Fusion City when head hoodlum, Ricardo White, rocks up in a van and kidnaps J-Woz — leaving Woz to battle through levels stuffed with knife-wielding, gun-toting gangsters to rescue his beloved. Yep: that old-as-the-hills games plot chestnut.
Woz is just the half of it, though. The other half of the game involves veteran tough guy movie actor Danny Trejo, also translated into 8-bit sprite form. His character is unlocked as you progress, so you can switch from playing as Woz to blasting away baddies as Trejo.
Trejo’s presence explains the Vengeance component of the game’s title, which is a reference to an eponymous forthcoming movie in which Trejo plays an undercover cop accused of a crime he didn’t commit (another, er, classic plot). Not that Woz (or his wife) star in the movie — so this is one double act to file under ‘very unlikely partnerships’. Woz is the cheese to Trejo’s chalk, I guess. In any case, only a fool would try to make too much sense of game plots. (Turns out Woz is buddies with the film’s director/producer — and the rest, as they say, is app history.)
This app caught my eye because I’d previously thought Woz would make a great game character. I imagined something a little more Mario than Street Fighter, though — with Woz transformed into a cutesy looking bear, say, wandering around a nice, cuddly place called Wozland, on a mission to make all the sad pandas happy by dispensing bear hugs. Safe to say, Vengeance: Woz With a Coz is nothing like that at all. But it’s still a lot of fun.
It’s a classic side-scrolling platformer, with obstacles to jump, duck or blast through, as well as baddies to shoot, knife and club. You can buy even more badass weapons with the gold you bag from fallen baddies. And you’ll probably need to get passed the end-of-level bosses.
The main component of the gameplay is endless scrolling — meaning you have to be nimble in your movements to avoid mis-timing jumps and ending up splattered against walls, crates or at the bottom of holes. There are three on-screen buttons to control Woz/Trejo: one for jumping, one for sliding (to duck obstacles) and one for attacking with whatever weapon proximity to your target allows.
The gameplay actually feels quite tough by modern, casual gamer standards — Angry Birds this is not. And, when you die, you end up right back at the beginning of the level no matter how far you’ve battled, so be prepared for a little frustration. Still, with the soothing tones of Woz accompanying your death throes, Woz with a Coz never gets too stressful.
The app, which is made by React! Games on behalf of movie and TV company ITN Flix, went live on the iTunes store today. And the cost of having Woz’s dulcet tones and 8-bit likeness in your pocket? A mere $0.99. How’s that for a Thanksgiving treat?