UK indies Mediatonic sure are a busy bunch. Not only did they release a ton of browser games for the likes of Adult Swim and SEGA, as well as mobile games, but their previous PSP Minis title Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess was pretty well received earlier this year. And that one even made Xbox Live Indie Games for a cheaper price in August! Talk about having a diversified strategy, eh?
Who's That Flying?!
Who's That Flying?!, or WTF?!, is your standard fare 2D side-scrolling shoot 'em up with a twist. As Earth, the protector of our lovely planet, you are an invincible galactic hero. That means that while you can get stunned by some enemies, you can't die by being hit. However, being a protector and all that, it's your job to make sure no enemies make it past you.
While the core gameplay revolves around shooting all the Ravagers, the black bigmouth enemies that swarm your screen, each level throws different types of larger enemies at you to distract you. These types of enemies take more hits to kill and either shoot at you to stun you, or fly into you for the same effect. However, they never try to get past you to damage your city's health so you can ignore them if you want.
You can just keep blasting everything from the safety of the left side of the screen, or fly in and melee-kill Ravagers up close. But this is also a bit of a double-edged sword though as the attack animation slows you down and stops you from spraying bullets for a precious second. Sometimes the melee attack can be a handy last resort tool to grab that one Ravager that got past you. More often than not, it results in missing another Ravager by not shooting continuously.
Other than just finishing the campaign, you can replay each stage for a higher highscore by getting bigger chains and keeping your city's health intact. For a $6 game you can play on the PSP and which even looks great on a PS3 with a HDTV hooked up, the campaign alone wouldn't even be a terrible deal because it's a fun enough. But apparently that was not enough for Mediatonic.
Who's That Flying?! sports a distinct graphical style that looks a bit like The Behemoth's, although that is unfair to Mediatonic if you look at their past games. The clear graphics definitely help to make it a pretty good looking game on a big screen if you want to play it on your TV. The soundtrack consists of a single theme that is styled to each city. It's a nice approach to have consistency in a small game while having enough variety so it doesn't become annoying.
Having said that, the Ravagers could perhaps have done with a bit more variety. Even though every level throws new bigger enemies at you, the main enemies always stay the same. You could argue that it does keep the Infinite and Challenge modes from getting too chaotic, but a different Ravager for every level's setting wouldn't have been the worst thing to add. The game is also not very hard; veteran shmup players will get silver medals easily enough. Still, getting gold medals in very mode and on every level will definitely not be a first try affair.
Overall, Who's That Flying?! is a charming, fun and cheap 2D shoot 'em up with a lot of personality and plenty of bang for your buck. If you never bothered with the PSP Minis before, then Who's That Flying?! could just be the most compelling argument to date for giving it a closer look.
THE VERDICT - Who's That Flying?
Reviewed by Maurice Tan