Thursday, April 25, 2013

Review: Platypus

Often used to sell an otherwise bad game, gimmicks make gamers wary, and this one has a blatant gimmick: everything is made of clay. Platypus isn't terrible, but it's nothing spectacular, either.

The visuals might appear bright and welcoming, but Platypus is a deceptively challenging game. It's a side-scrolling shoot-em-up in which the player is assaulted by various types of enemies, each with their own attack patterns. Aiding in the annihilation of enemy crafts are weapon upgrades, which are obtainable by destroying every ship in special orange formations. These drop a star, which cycles through the various weapon types when shot. 

The weapon upgrade system is the game's most unique feature, even though the upgrades themselves are uninspired rehashes. The yellow star is the obligatory spread shot; the blue star is rapid fire; the green a wave of energy which is capable of negating enemy fire, but utterly useless against anything that doesn't die in one shot; red shoots rockets which are great at tearing through larger enemies; and finally the green, only available in the final level, is lighting, which pierces through everything directly in a straight line. There is also an orbital powerup, which effectively doubles the ship's firepower, and a crown, which doubles score. Both of these will last as long as the player can avoid being hit.

In most shooters, an upgraded weapon lasts as long the player does, and once a life is lost, it's back to the pea-shooter. In Platypus, the duration of an upgrade is marked by a timer in the upper left-hand corner of the screen, with each star adding 20 seconds. This system is perfect for a newcomer to the genre, because they're not punished for dying, and because orbitals and score doublers remain until the player dies, skilled play is also rewarded. There are many instances throughout the game where the player is forced to use a certain weapon, and while it may be the best tool for the job in each instance, it takes the element of personal choice away and makes the experience feel a bit jagged.

Platypus's main mode spans 6 levels, each consisting of 4 areas and a boss fight. The screen does get fairly crowded as the game goes on, and it's easy to lose track of the tiny enemy bullets (I was often hit by a bullet partially concealed by my own stream of fire). Players are given 5 lives to begin with, and two additional credits. These can be used to immediately respawn with 5 more lives, and with one being awarded after each level's completion, a game over is unlikely. Most of the game is spent dodging and shooting, but there is one area consisting of nothing but floating mines in a narrow cave, which, if shot, explode into a shower of bullets. This section serves to break up the monotony, and the game could have used more like it.

Speaking of monotony, boss fights are a battle against fatigue. Upgrades are a must, as the default weapon does next to nothing to the massive enemy crafts. Instead of satisfaction, players are granted only relief once the fight is finally over. Each one feels more like a marathon instead of an intense battle, largely due to the bland attack patterns, which change very little, if at all, as their hp depletes.

Additional modes include simultaneous co-op play, which can't be said for many other shooters, and a survival mode, in which the goal is to last for as long as possible on a single life. It gets pretty intense pretty quickly, and is arguably more enjoyable than much of the rest of the game. 

Platypus has little to offer to shoot-em-up veterans, but younger gamers and those new to the genre might be less critical of it. 

Find Platypus on ebay | Amazon

Released: 2006-11-14
Publisher: MumboJumbo
Developer: Idigicon


Given the name of this game, it was inevitable for it to be reviewed on this site. Speaking of inevitability, I'm finishing my next review right now.

I've been getting google traffic from people searching for the game, so I figured I'd review it.

this is the worst video game ive ever played in my life.

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