Friday, July 29, 2011

Who's That Flying?! (Playstation Network)

Checkpoints OFF
1 Difficulty level
5 Stages
Ship speed fixed
- - - - - - -
Developed by Mediatonic
Published by Mediatonic in 2010

There are a few things that Who's That Flying?! does right in its intent of bringing something fresh to the table. In its core the game does belong to the shmup genre, even though the main character is invincible and the scoring system does not suit the mold we shmuppers are used to. As an experience, it's a valid, harmless attempt that will quench the need for superficial distraction if you download it to your PSP and play it on the go. However, it could be much more had the idea been treated with a little more depth.

Definitely the strongest aspect in the game is its humor, which appears in-between stages as you, the guardian of Earth, is put on trial for letting aliens invade our planet for obscure reasons. Each stage works as a statement in court and a reminiscence of the character's heroic actions in the line of duty. Meanwhile, you're bombarded with questions from the guardians of the other planets in the Solar System, without ever losing the temper or the sense of humor. The cartoony art design is catchy and the situations (some of them predictable) will certainly make you giggle, starting from the opening screen and the stressing in red of the capital letters in the game's title.

Doom beasts ahoy!

So much of aesthetics, but what about gameplay? The guardian's mission is to stop those dark "doom beast" invaders that look like something out of a Parodius game. Every time one of them goes past the hero and disappears to the left you're booed by the population in the city below, and when 50 of them succeed the mission is failed - they've just taken over the city you're supposed to be defending. You are invincible, and besides shooting them with your laser arm you'll automatically tear them apart whenever they get close to you. Killing the invaders in succession increases the score multiplier up to ×9, and by destroying them you also fill an auxiliary meter that allows three types of special weapons to be used: a rapid fire gun, a small laser beam and a larger laser beam. With the exception of bosses, the larger beam disintegrates everything, even the big enemies that appear from time to time to slow you down with heavier attacks (those that need to be weakened first and only then terminated by pressing R and tapping X).

Who's That Flying?! has five stages, which are divided in three sections each with a huge boss awaiting in each last section. You have to defend four cities (New York, Tokyo, Mexico City and Moscow) before rocketing to outer space for the final showdown against the invaders. It's all very colorful and fun in the beginning, but unfortunately things start getting repetitive after the novelty fades (progress in each section is displayed in the upper part of the screen). The fact that scores are computed only for isolated sections - and not the whole game - makes this title a good choice for score attack competitions, but a sad failure for regular high score comparisons. Each section won is unlocked for future replays, but if you want to tackle the game from start to finish you have to delete all saved content, thus erasing all the special modes and trophies you have collected so far. Simply put, for score-driven shmuppers this sucks.

Speaking exclusively about the action, the challenge is relatively easygoing, basically kicking in when enemies start cluttering the screen from all sides, and especially when the big ones hit you with one of those stunning attacks. They
behave differently for each stage and always appear in the second section. The game isn't hard, it takes just a few tries to get used to the patterns of enemy movement. The real danger lies with later bosses and the sidekicks they summon while regular invaders cruise the screen to the left side. Losing control of the situation in these moments can quickly lead to mission failure.

Official trailer
(courtesy of YouTube user Requisitos Jogos)

The main game is called Story, but as you play you'll eventually unlock two extra modes: Infinite mode lets you fight in a given environment to no end, and Challenge mode throws a series of special tasks for the player to conquer. Praise galleries and special achievements/trophies are awarded for obtaining outstanding performances while playing the game both in the Story or Challenge modes.

Despite its rather repetitive nature, Who's That Flying!? can be enjoyed with casual purposes, thanks in part to the adequate soundtrack and the lighthearted tone of the game. With such a cool character, I wonder what could've been accomplished if a full-fledged console game was to be designed around him, keeping the same basic idea (invulnerability), cranking up the difficulty and making the overall challenge more "shmuppy".

My 1CC high score was 2.204.840 points, which is the sum of the individual scores of all 5 stages (15 sections) played in Story mode. Click the image to enlarge.


  1. wow, if this ever becomes free. I'll grab it. I'm just not a mini games fan is all.

  2. yeah, I would do the same
    free = good