Who’s That Flying?! An Indie Game Review

Who’s That Flying?! An Indie Game Review

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Steam, PSP/PS3 Minis

Game Name: Who's That Flying?!

Publisher: Kalypso Media Digital

Developer: MediaTonic

Genre: Action, Casual

Release Date: Jan 31 2011

ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+

Developer Summary:

As the mysterious and powerful “Guardian of Earth” your steely eye and HYPER-POWERED LASER ARM have kept Earth safe for generations (as well as proving a hit with the ladies).

With all your awesome TALENT and FLAIR, surely if would be IMPOSSIBLE for a devastating invasion of Doom Beasts to descend on your cities and cause havoc without your knowledge? (Even if you were MAYBE showboating for a magazine photo-shoot at the time…)

Now, you must not only defend your cities from the ravenous hordes of Doom Beasts – you must defend yourself from accusations of gross incompetence from the Galactic Council of Justice! And this is all BEFORE you can even start to get to the bottom of just who or what is really behind the attacks…

What We Think:

With great power comes great responsibility. Therefore, it logically follows that being invincible is a royal pain in the ass. A fast-paced, humorous, highly-addictive pain in the ass…

Dad always taught me, when fighting an alien slug, aim for its giant mouth.

I Never Thought I Could Feel So Free (ee-eee!)

Who’s That Flying centers around the trial of the Guardian of Earth. After a great extra-terrestrial invasion, the high galactic council has charged Earth with shirking his duties as planetary watchdog. Sure, he eventually fought off the Doom Beasts (flying swarms of giant, slug-like mouths with teeth), but some serious questions remain: Could he have prevented the tragedy altogether? Has the Guardian’s vanity caused him to lose his edge? If another planet were to be discovered in the solar system, could its guardian’s name be any more intrinsically funny than “Uranus”?

Each block of three levels is presented as a memory that is used as testimony for or against Earth, and the performance of the player will determine whether it is positive or damning. There is a count that appears in the top-right of the screen that indicates how many more attacks the city can withstand (to a maximum of fifty). For each Doom Beast that manages to slip past the Guardian, that number will diminish by one. If fifty get past, the Guardian is found guilty, and the level will have to be replayed.

How completely each level in a city is defended will be the factor that tips the scales of the Guardian’s personal justice. Defend a level well, and the people of the city the Guardian has just saved will award him with a medal. As the level of these medals are used as evidence in his trial iwth the Galactic Council, it is vital to get the best performance possible. Fortunately, each level can be replayed after it is completed, and the highest medal acheived will be displayed.

Oh, Uranus...will you learn to not open your...mouth...?
Oh, Uranus...when will you learn to not open your...mouth...?

Chibi Ultraman, We Love You!

The Guardian of Earth is completely invulnerable: no matter how many times he gets smacked down, slimed or pulverized, he leaps back into the fray with nary a scratch on his space-age polymer tight pants. There are also no health bars to replenish whatsoever. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make the task of defending a planet any easier.

Swarms of Doom Beasts approach the planet’s great cities, and only Earth can stand in their way. Using the arrow keys to fly around the screen and holding down the space bar fires a continuous volley from Earth’s blaster arm, taking out lesser foes in one shot. If a critter is getting too close for comfort, no worries! Just fly right into it, and Earth will tear it assunder with his hands.

Later attackers will run defense for the Doom Beasts. Some will charge at the Guardian, sending him for a spin. Others will fire projectiles that can slow him down. They don’t hurt the Guardian and would be annoying at best, but an ill-timed distraction can provide a window for multiple Doom Beasts to slip through. A few instances like this will mean a quick Game Over, so be prepared to incorporate some fancy flying in your defense strategy.

Fire shots at blocker beasts to wear them down until you can finish them off with a flashy attack loaded with heroic poses and multiple explosions. No super hero tale would be complete without an epic boss battle. Reach the end of the third stage in any city, and the screen will zoom out to accommodate the massive foes that will square off against the Guardian.

Did it just get explodey in here, or is it just me?

Defending the Defender

The cutscenes between levels stick with the cute, cartoon-like characterizations found in the playable portions. All dialogue that goes on in the trial is done through subtitles accompnied by nonsensical verbal mimicry. This makes the bickering between the members of the Council (particularly between Earth and Uranus) absolutely hilarious. Overall, the presentation is warm and endearing.

Getting used to the mechanic of unleashing special attacks (holding CTRL when an enemy is weakened, but only AFTER releasing the space bar, then mashing the space bar) was a little off-putting, but it was really the only control difficulty to speak of. The Guardian flies quickly, and responds will to the keyboard commands, making for a fast-paced SHMUP feel in later levels.

Nothing is more frustrating then having a perfect defense of a city ruined when a lone Doom Beast manages to sneak past. Fortunately, the levels aren’t excessively long, so perfectionists will likely fire up levels a few times to get the best possible medals in all cities.

Having an invicible hero in a goal-keeper role turns the side-scrolling shoot-em-up genre on its ear, and with great results. It’s all wrapped up in a bright, sunny candy coating with a smart-ass centre, and enthusiasts of the genre will find themselves going back for another handful. There is also an abundance of challenge and infinite modes and other unlockables. In short, Who’s That Flying? is funny, fast, and highly replayable.

For $5.99 USD, isn’t about time you strap on your arm cannon and take to the skies? (Warning: trained stuntman. Do not attempt)

Who’s That Flying?! is available at the Steam store

[xrr rating=”4.5/5″]