Who’s That Flying!? ReviewPublisher: Mediatonic
UK Price (as reviewed): £5.99 (Inc VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): ($5.99 Ex Tax)
It's very difficult to do anything new with a side scrolling shoot 'em up, but Who's That Flying!? manages to lend a few subtle new twists to the genre by messing around with the concept of lives and damage. You take on the role of Earth, a planetary defender on trial before a galactic council, who recounts to the jury how he saved Terra Firma from an invasion of flying, ravaging doom-beasts.
The core feature from which Who's That Flying!? draws much of its inventiveness is the tower-defence twist to your standard side-shooting set-up; you lose health not when your caped crusader is hit, but when an enemy slips past him. In fact, even the sizeable bosses don’t pose any direct threat to you; their real threat is that they can stun you for long enough to let lesser enemies can slip past.
Ten points if you know what 'Laser' is an acronym of
If too many beasties get by you then they destroy the city, and Earth is deemed guilty by the tribunal – at which point it’s Game Over.
The action and violence is well polished and highly satisfying, rewarding flawless kill chains with temporary power ups. These range from a simple turbo-fire mode to a giant-all-consuming-laser-of-doom. The latter is sure to induce an ear-to-ear grin and a faint manic glint in your eye as it demolishes everything in sight – Bit-Gamer
’s art editor in particular was a big fan of the super-laser, for example.
In order to break up the standard shooting game-play, you can grab hold of the ravagers and pull them apart with your bare hands too, causing splash damage to anything in the area. There are also mini-bosses that need to be weakened with laser fire, then button-mashed to death. Although this can get a little tiresome in some of the later stages, it's made worth it by some of the delightful animations of Earth power-punching, stabbing or head-butting the monster into oblivion.
Give up? Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation
Although initially we had concerns that there wasn't enough variation in the adversaries thrown at you, you can make up for this by varying the attack patterns – a subtle but integral part of making a side-scrolling shooter work. The downside to this, however, is that you do occasionally get caught out by cheap shots as something flies across the screen faster than it's humanly possible to respond to. Still, there’s a tremendous amount of satisfaction to be had in accidentally catching one of these as it runs into your tiny, barbarian hands.
The boss design in Who's That Flying!? is mostly well thought-out and throws an array of Lovecraftian beasts your way, some of which really are the stuff of cartoon nightmares. Developer Mediatonic has avoided just going for bigger versions of little enemies, yet also managed to retain a sense of style across each stage. The only criticism we have is the slightly punishing timer that kicks in during boss fights. In some stages this means you need to execute a flawless run in order to get the right power ups just to damage the thing quickly enough.
Who's That Flying!? is a small title with some excellent little touches and a decent amount of meat on it. There's nothing particularly ground breaking or revolutionary about it, but it's well polished and offers a few neat twists on the standards of the genre. You won’t be playing it weeks down the line, but it’s fun while it lasts.