Platypus is one of those titles that has had relative success, but it seems like not a whole lot of people know about the game. Having already been released on the PC, Mac, Smart Phones and the PSP, it has now found its way on to the iPhone. The one aspect that sets Platypus apart from other side scrolling shooters is that its entire world is created by clay. Anthony Flack, the game’s creator, painstakingly made every single element from a single lump of clay and photographed them with a digital camera. No wonder it is one of the most unique looking games out for the iPhone.
Like 99.9% of shooters out there the storyline ingame is almost non existent, but it goes something like this:
The vast continent-spanning city of Collosatropolis has finally reached the limits of its expansion. Tall buildings cover every available space. The air is thick with smoke and poisonous chemicals. Parking is a nightmare.
The Collosotropolan leaders have decided the simplest solution is to invade the neighbouring country of Mungola. They don’t anticipate much of a struggle – Mungolans are simple, earthy types without much love for industry. In fact, Mungola’s entire defence force consists of a single squadron of fighter planes – the venerable F-27 ‘Platypus’.
Guiding the trusty F-27 ‘Platypus’, you will fight your way through four unique worlds, each with 5 subsequently more challenging levels. Your enemies are plenty and come in various unique shapes and sizes: flying saucers, blimps shaped like bloated fish, upside down pineapples, water boilers that shoot lasers and a whole lot more.
At your arsenal, Platypus is equipped with a dual shot cannon that shoots automatically. This means that you don’t have to worry about pressing any buttons to fire a single shot. There is a ‘Fire’ button on the top right of the screen that will allow you to cease fire by tapping on it. Power ups are obtained by successfully shooting down a consecutive wave of red UFOs (very much like my favorite shooter, Salamander by Konami). Upon doing so, a star containing various power ups will be up for grabs. Shooting the star will change its color, thereby also changing the type of power up you can obtain:
- Yellow Star – Shotgun like cannon that covers a larger area
- Blue Star – A more potent rapid firing cannon
- Green Star – A pulse like wave attack
- Red Star – Rockets that are slower to fire but more powerful
With two methods to control your F-27, you can either tilt or touch your way while defending Mungola. Via the accelerometer-based tilt option, simply tilt your iPhone in the direction you want your jet to fly. In this mode, you do have the choice of changing the default Tilt Angle setting so that you can play the game either lying down or sitting up. To fly your jet using the touch method, drag your finger around the screen to dodge your enemies. You can also set how far Platypus is positioned away from your finger and in what direction (above, below or on either sides) while you are touching the screen. I did find myself using the touch method exclusively as the game went on. The tilt method was fun for a while, but not really effective when trying to dodge through multiple enemies.
The graphics is where the game really shines. I can’t remember the last time I spent looking at the back drops more than I did the actual action on the screen. Watching the clouds, mountains, buildings and trees go by was an absolute treat. The use of clay to animate everything is very well done. Shooting certain enemies will cause their structure to dent and fall off. Tiny enemy pilots will jump to their deaths just before their aircraft explodes. Explosions are handled just like how you would expect playduh to look like if blown up by some C4s. Sweet.
The music soundtrack in Platypus is inspired by old school Commodore 64 games. If retro gaming beats is your thing, then the soundtrack here will be right up your alley. I did enjoy the music for the most part, though after the millionth track loop in a few hours of Platypus action , I found that it got a bit stale and repetitive.
While Platypus is a fun shooter, it does have some issues. First and foremost, neither control schemes are really good. Using tilt mode, I found it difficult to safely zip by crowds of enemy fire or even enemy aircraft themselves. While you can bump up its sensitivity, I couldn’t find a setting where I was comfortable playing with. Using the touch control is more effective, but I found that dragging your finger all over the screen can obstruct your vision from enemy fire. Not a good thing when they are coming at you from all angles.
I other issue I have is replayability. After finishing the game, there is no real incentive to go through all the levels again, unless you want to try it on a higher difficulty setting. Implementing a 2 player co-op mode via wifi could easily remedy this.
The Bottom line: Platypus is a delightful and fun filled shooter laced with gorgeous visuals. You can get hooked by simply watching the game. While Platypus costs $19.99 for Windows Mobile smart phones, the $4.99 App Store price tag is a relative steal.