Every once in a while a game comes along that makes you play and play and play and play, until your eye’s begin to bleed and your hands cramp up in agony. Who’s That Flying, from Mediatonic, is one of those games. You are the invincible protector of Earth, all round good guy, super cool, with awesome talent and flair, steely eyed and toting a HYPER-POWERED LASER ARM, which must be really cool as it’s in capitals. However, you are up in front of the Galactic Council, protectors from each of the planets, accused of gross incompetence and a severe case of showboating for a magazine, and to top it off, you have to defend Earth against the Doom Beasts: black creatures that are all mouth and who like nothing more than to tuck into a five course belly-buster of Earth’s most beloved cities. Can you fight them off to find out who’s behind the attack and more importantly can you clear your name?
Lets make this clear from the start, I like this game, a lot. And I reckon you will as well. Who’s That Flying is a side scrolling shoot-em-up, with all the essential ingredients for a superb game. You start on trial for the crime of incompetence, but as the Galactic Council begin to probe your memories they begin to see how, although you were posing for a magazine, you managed to stop the invasion and beat the ultimate baddie. Then things begin to kick off, scrolling from the classic left to right you hit the Space-bar to fire and the enemy come at you from the right in wave upon wave of patterned destruction. The Doom Beasts, or Ravagers as they are called, are pretty easy to kill, they just take one shot, but when there’s a good couple of dozen of them on screen, all moving in a set formation, things can get a little hairy. Think of WTF (yeah I know!) as a kind of shoot-em-up tower defence game, as you play an indestructible hero the only way to lose is to let the Doom Beasts get past you, if you do your city loses some life. Each city has 50 points of health, when a Ravager gets past you the city loses 1 point, when it reaches zero you’ve failed.
But flying along and wiping out Doom Beasts seems pretty easy, so the developers added different types of enemy to try to distract you. They can’t eat the city, so they can be ignored, but they fire out green blobs of slime, or energy blasts, or they charge into you causing you to spin out of control for a period of time. Hitting the Space-bar will recover you quicker, but by then the large group of Ravagers have got past you and are tucking into your precious city, and boy do they take some hits. If things begin to get a little heated and you’re beginning to foam at the mouth, don’t panic, shooting everything in sight will fill up your attack bar, which can be converted to special weapons that last for limited period: Turbo Fire, Super Beam and finally the Hyper Beam, a thick beam of energy that annihilates everything in its path.
Every time you kill a wave of Ravagers the population cheers for you, if you let any get past they boo, fickle bunch! But if you manage to complete one of the fifteen levels without too many of the nasties getting past you are awarded a gold medal, followed by silver and bronze. Earning medals can unlock Steam achievements and other game content. If you only score a bronze medal the first time round, you can easily go back and try a completed level again to gain that elusive gold. The levels are split into five groups with three stages each and a big boss at the end of each of the third stage. The bosses are much bigger than anything you see during the level and can take an extraordinary amount of fire power before they finally allow you to perform a special move, which consists of you holding Ctrl and hammering at the Space-bar. It’s not as easy as it sounds, as the boss undoubtedly fires a combination of missiles at you whilst calling in support from the other nasties you’ve fought during the last level. As in all good side scrollers, aiming for a particular part off the boss will weaken him quicker and get you onto the next level.
Each level is followed by an amusing cut scene of you on trial, with some pretty good dialogue and cheesy old jokes that just add to the fun of WTF? Complete the story mode and you have the ability to unlock and play the Challenge mode, which pits you against 24 objectives, such as completing a level in turbo mode or achieving a set number of points and so on, which adds a great deal to the, already very good, playability of the game. If you think you can handle that, then completion of the game with gold medals will unlock the Infinite mode, which is a level where you basically have to survive for as long as possible and achieve the highest score to compare and show off with on Steam.
The graphics are big and wonderfully animated, with nice cut scenes and an easy-to-look-at backdrop that doesn’t distract from the meat of the game in the foreground. The music and sound effects are simple enough, but work well with the genre and distinctive humour.
To be honest, I haven’t got a bad word to say about Who’s That Flying. The game played like a dream, it was fluid, easy to get into, playable, chaotic and impossibly infuriatingly FUN! I’ve played side scroller shoot-em-up’s since I killed my Spectrum on R-Type and this, to me, brings back the good old days of excellent games with tons of playable levels and good old fashioned fun. Buy it. Play it. Love it.
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