Vetica Review

Warning: Level 2 may contain slightly offensive words.
Wim Crouwel, a well-known Dutch graphic designer and typographer, has an interesting quote about Helvetica in Gary Hustwist’s documentary of the same name. “It shouldn’t have a meaning itself,” Crouwel said in praise of Helvetica’s neutral qualities. “The meaning is in the context of the text, not in the typeface.”
While few people are probably unaware of Helvetica’s existence at least peripherally — it’s used in everything from advertisements to street signs — Crouwel’s quote is particularly apt for describing Vetica, a vertical shooter based entirely around this most popular of typefaces.
q|A, the new project from the creators of Interior Semiotics.
I’m not going to bother trying to come up with a greater cultural explanation for why Vetica was created — it seems pretty obvious that in this case the “context of the text” is that Helvetica’s neutrality makes a pretty funny graphical basis when its constituent parts combine to resemble the typical iconography of a shoot-em-up. (Read: it is.)
Vetica’s is very straightforward. Your ship is the letter A, and your weapon types are different punctuation marks. Enemies are cleverly formed from mirrored and combined characters, with spinning S’s, rotating O’s and waves of alternating D’s and B’s dancing toward you — it’s particularly fun to see what characters make up massive end-level bosses.
This is one case where Hooked On Phonics clearly didn’t work.
As is expected with shooter designs, there’s more than a little dash of bullet-hell here, which can be a slightly problematic at times given the touch-only controls. But this is clearly a project borne of equal parts humor and loving homage to both Helvetica and classic shoot-em-up design, and the fun pairing of a Tron-esque snyth soundtrack and sounds from the Large Hadron Collider give this one a cool, appropriately spacey feel. Now design-minded types that make use of Helvetica on their business cards or websites have just another reason to show off how chic their choice in OS is.
The bottom line. If you love of classic shooters and you’re something of a design fetishist, you’ll absolutely flip for Vetica.
Speed Noise Movement
iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 3.1.3 or later
The idea of a shooter based around Helvetica is funny, and the execution is creative. Great soundtrack.
Touch-only controls can obscure your vision at times. It’s a shoot-em-up, so it’s hard.

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