We have to admit, Air Forte wasn’t what we expected – which is probably a result of us pursuing it blindly upon hearing it existed. Indie developer Brendon Chung’s last game, Flotilla, is still one of our favourite games of the year, so when we heard he’d released something new then we leapt at it quickly and without pause.
Chung’s previous games have run a wide gamut, from turn-based strategy to FPS games starring assassin babies. Even bearing that in mind though, we were a little startled to find that Air Forte is a game intended mainly for children. Sitting down to play it for the first time, we were quite bewildered.
After the confusion passed though, we quickly found ourselves being tickled by Chung’s typically bizarre story concepts. Later we got quite competitive too, discovering that Air Forte bears many similarities to Toy Story and Shrek; it’s kind of meant for kids, but can be enjoyed by adults too.
Faraday Cage - that's me, a rhino with a plane! And style!
The game jumps you right into the plot, which is presented in comic-book format and begins with a puppy inexplicably bursting into tears and yelling that someone has stolen all the multiples. A chorus of other dogs join the cry – who has taken our multiples? Nobody knows, but everyone turns to you for help: you can fly.
So, you take to the skies in your little red aeroplane and set about collecting all the stolen multiples, in order of size. The first level has you collecting multiples of two, but you eventually work your way up to multiples of 11 and 12 too. In each level you have to collect all the numbers, which are represented as floating medals, before you can move on. If you pick up the wrong numbers then your plane explodes, the music fades and you have to wait a few seconds to respawn.
One of Air Forte’s main curiosities is the lack of any sort of lives counter – if you’re really terrible at maths then you can just grind through level by trying to grab every number you see. In singleplayer this is a bit of a pain, but it’s clear that Air Forte is intended mainly as a co-op title – as evidenced by the fact that you can have multiple players on one PC. There’s still infinite continues in the drop-in, drop-out co-operative mode, but other players will usually wipe the screen clean of the easy answers in the time it takes you to re-materialise.
You get bonus points if you collect the purple medallion in the corner
Extra bits of story are delivered every two or three levels, each cutscene lasting just a few seconds and providing a further, fleeting glance at the bizarre roster of characters. The puppies who appear in the introduction are quickly joined by other creatures; a Rastafarian cat, a toad who wears a crown and a permanently surprised boy with a sparrow on his head. It’s all very confusing and bizarre. Kids will love it.
The central figure of the story though is Jazz Hans, a flying octopus with a penchant for boxing gloves. He’s the one responsible for the thefts, which grow in later stages to include stolen nouns, verbs, adjectives and place names, and the one who you must pursue and bring to justice. Jazz Hans’ motivation is revealed over the course of the game, which itself doesn’t run very long – little more than an hour, at most.