15 December 2007


I am on the mailing list of a few game publishers, both to keep up with the news and for the occasional freebies. Recently, Macgamestore.com gave away the game Platypus to its subscribers. At first, I thought, great, a shoot-em-up game. In recent memory, I bought the game Jets 'N Guns, also of the shoot-em-up genre, because of its great music and impressive graphics, but the game is so hard I never got beyond level 2. I've been looking for
another game in the shoot-em-up category. Platypus is just what I want.

The game is relatively easy to play. I was able to get past a few levels the first time I played it. Work with a second player and you can advance even faster. (In the screenshot, Player 1 (yellow) hasn't re-materialized yet after being blasted into smithereens earlier.) I am currently stuck at Level 2, Area 2, so it is not that easy that I can finish in one seating. The music by Chris Abbot is nice, too. I wasn't into computer during the Commodore 64's heyday so I didn't readily recognize Abbot's music, but there is some similarities to the music I heard in some Commodore Amiga games. Unlike Jets 'N Guns, there is no need to buy and sell stuff to arm your spaceship. Just blast a wave of enemies and they become stars for you to collect. Shoot the stars a few times more and the power-up changes - wide-shooter, autofire, sonic wave, rocket, and lightning.

What really sets Platypus apart from many of the games out there is its claymation-based graphic. I think there are some game building packages out there that are used by the people who supply games to publishers like Game House and Big Fish Games. It's probably the same people using the same artists, such that they all look similar. The way the games are played maybe different, but still they do look the same. It's like cartoons from Pixar or Dreamworks. Impressive and beautiful as they are, the look in all those cartoons are the same. Not so with Platypus, because its creator, Anthony Flack, had meticulously made everything from clay and animated them. Think Nick Park, Creature Comfort, and Wallace and Grommit. Even though I am good at drawing, animation, computer-assisted or not, is just too tedious for me. My hat goes off to Anthony for the great work. The clay appearance simply gives the game a unique look that I haven't seen in any games.

Next time: The sad story behind the game.

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