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November 03, 2005


A few months back, I warned parents about Alien Hominid, a violent, non-kid-friendly, 2D side-scrolling shooter.

I'm happy to report that I found another side scrolling shooter that is just as visually delicious in its own way, but is a kinder, gentler game, appropriate for juvenile consumption.

We stumbled across the demo for Platypus a few months ago on RealArcade, and my son and I have had a lot of fun playing it.

As you can see from the screenshots below, Platypus has a very cool claymation-based visual style. You can tell the game is fun just by looking at it.

Technically, Platypus employs parallax scrolling, and as you zoom ahead in the foreground, the lovely scenery (mountains, castles, clouds, etc.) floats lazily by in the background.

Gameplay-wise, you shoot at a lot of small ships, and some big "boss" ships as well. Every ship you nail results in a satisfying clay explosion, and when you get the big guys, the larger explosion results in a cascade of fruit for you to catch. My son is a big fan of the fruit shower.

You can also upgrade your ammo. After shooting special enemy formations, a rotating, flipping, multicolored star appears, and based on the star's color when you catch it, you can choose to simply increase the rate of fire, or you can change your projectiles altogether (missles, shock waves, etc.).

One of the advantages of casual games like Platypus is that they are all about fun. Many of today's video game makers get so caught up in making the game as long and challenging as possible, that they forget to put fun before frustration. And I write this with the realization that when employed skillfully and judiciously, a certain level of difficulty prevents the game from being too easy and therefore boring.

Platypus isn't the easiest game in the world for young kids to finish, but they'll have a lot of fun just playing the game, because "finishing" Platypus isn't as important as simply enjoying the experience of playing.

This game doesn't claim to be an epic battle of good vs evil (though there is a backstory), but it delivers what it promises - a fun time for as many or as few minutes as you have to play on your computer.

Now go blow up some clay with your kids.


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