Value for money is an odd thing in the discussion around video games culture. Some people quote length as a measure, some people quote quality, some talk of how good the game looks and sounds, some talk about the ‘replay factor’. Apple’s focus on low cost apps changed this discussion of course, as did – to a lesser extent – the other various downloadable platforms offering more compact experiences at a cut price. While the Xbox’s XBLI Market Place has some little gems to be found here and there, Sony’s Minis alternative has struggled to find a footing, largely rammed full of mobile phone ports and knock-offs of bigger, better titles. Both platforms suffer equally in terms of highlighting quality however, sorting through and finding the value-laden wheat amongst the acres and acres of humdrum chaff can be a very daunting prospect.
So here’s a bit of advice, broken up into four easy stages; 1. go and search for Who’s That Flying? on PSN, 2. ensure you have about a fiver in your account, 3. hit the big ‘download’ button, 4. enjoy.
Because at around the same price as a McDonald’s Extra Value Meal, Who’s That Flying? is remarkably stuffed full of gaming nutrients to keep you sustained far longer than a patty of reconstituted beef product takes to leave your system. WTF? is a side scrolling shooter with some ultra light weight Tower Defence elements – think Defender meets PixelJunk Monsters – presented in a bold, almost Invader Zim art style, punctuated with good natured humour plus rocking musical accompaniment. I must now have ploughed about eight very enjoyable hours into it, completing the courtroom intrigue filled story mode, going head long into the addictive as crack challenges – that change up the win parameters of the main game to such an extent as to force you to adapt everything you’ve learned in the campaign – and fancying my chances in the hard as nails survival mode that sees you take on formation after formation of superbly designed bad guys.
But what of this shooty-shooty plus buildy-defendy action I touted earlier, why is this different to any other R-Type clone? First, your character cannot die, instead the only things that are susceptible to damage are your cutely grotesque opponents and the cities you are defending from their alien invasion. Taking damage when an enemy passes past you and off the screen, it’s game over when the city’s health reaches zero, meaning you’ll have to destroy everything in your path to succeed. To prevent this from happening you have a rapid fire standard shot, the ability to grab on to enemies and melee them (causing a small but not insignificant amount of splash damage) and power ups that are charged as you lay vanquish to your foes. Unlike most other horizontal shooters, the focus is taken from avoiding enemies, to actively engaging them, the challenge lying in working out how to most effectively lay them to waste. It’s not exactly high strategy, but it does require some real thought, which is refreshing for such a stale genre.
Though the shooting can become a little repetitive after extended play, the distribution method, small file size and quick load speeds allow for a more buffet-style approach, nibbling on a little slice of campaign here, a spot of survival there, as opposed to gorging oneself on WTF? in a single session. For a Minis release, this is a sizeable game in both scope and scale, an exceptionally high value release, whichever way you choose to define it.
MLG Rating: 8 /10
Platform: PlayStation Portable / PlayStation 3 Release Date: 17/11/2010
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of Who’s That Flying? for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of seven days on a PSP 2000. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.