Who’s that Flying?! Review

Who’s that Flying?! is simply one of the best 2D shoot ‘em ups to come out in years.

Mediatonic is an independent development company best known for the classic “Monsters (Probably) Stole my Princess”, a really popular vertical platformer mini game released for both the PSN and Xbox Live Arcade online stores. The indie game quickly became famous for its simple story, addictive gameplay and really good sense of humor, making it one of the best downloadable experiences along with games like Limbo, ‘Splosion Man or even Super Meat Boy. Now, we can enjoy another game made by the same developers which seems to bring the same kind of passion and dedication: Who’s that Flying?!

The game is a fast-paced 2D side-scrolling shoot ‘em up which has some similarities with other games of the genre: simple control scheme, basic but addictive formula, uncomplicated story and lots of enemies to shoot at. The story mode features a galactic hero called “Earth”, who is naturally defending our planet from invaders of other galaxies. To do so, he is required to shoot as many foes as possible, but if he allows 50 or more to get away you’ll immediately lose the challenge and you’ll have to restart the level from the beginning. As you defeat enemies you gain points and if you frantically shoot them in succession you’ll be able to unleash more powerful attacks, thanks to the included turbo meter. When you unleash one of these special attacks time actually slows down in a very dramatic way, and once you unlock the highest level of power, a massive ray of light will annihilate any monster onscreen in a very satisfying and rewarding way. Additionally, and if an enemy touches you, that doesn’t mean it’s game over like in more traditional games, instead, the pace slows down giving you more time to prepare a new strategy.

Heroes are always busy…

You’ll be awarded with different types of medals depending on your performance and new content will be unlocked according to it. The extra content is a very welcome addition, as the game is short but highly replayable because of this. There’s a challenge mode, unlockable items (like magazines), a couple of achievements, an infinite mode, an evidence room and so on. There are also five different cities with three challenges each, and some of these cities include Moscow, Tokyo and Mexico.

Something that has always been an important part of Mediatronic games is its weird sense of humor. This characteristic has remained mostly untouched, but unfortunately it’s not for everybody, as the game’s humor is kind of hit-or-miss. That doesn’t mean that the game is boring or offensive. Not at all, but some of the jokes may diminish your experience while you try enjoying the nice sequences.

So, enemies come relentlessly at you from the right and you have to kill them, right? Yes, but fortunately there are many more things to take into account. There are lots of different foes and at latter stages even the most common ones will pose a threat. Each type has a different pattern, they fly in groups, some have a tendency to hide behind larger monsters, some are more fearsome than others and so on. The inclusion of some interesting bosses is great, as you can only defeat these if you use a particular strategy. Trying to find their weaknesses may take you a while, though, as each one is very peculiar in this sense, but most of the time this will involve engaging in a Quick Time Event in which you’ll need to mash buttons to proceed. Most of these bosses are huge and trying to beat them is really fun and engaging. What’s also very good is that most levels are extremely short, but very challenging at the same time, and in this regard the game represents a short, but quite intense experience that not many other games are likely to recreate.

Who’s that Flying?! runs really well, I’ve only seen a major slowdown in the PC version of the game, but after a few seconds the frame rate became smooth once again. Most of the loading times are quite short and the game is not very hardware-demanding. It’s very good to see Who’s that Flying?! displaying dozens of fast-moving enemies onscreen and see that, most of the times, the game maintains a really consistent frame rate.

Your performance will be constantly graded.

Visually, the game looks great. The graphics are really crisp and clear and it helps the game retain this unique indie vibe that makes it really distinctive. You’ll see the story through these really good sequences, which take place between each city. Character design is really good, though it tends to be a little too repetitive, but apart from that each city looks great and pretty original. For example, once you see the Moscow level you are likely to infer that you are there even if you don’t read it from the description. The sounds of the game are really well implemented. The music is engaging enough and each city has a pretty distinctive tune that you’ll soon start associating to it (like the one in Mexico). In this regard the game also provides really good feedback and you’ll hear a crowd cheering whenever you kill more and more enemies. Fortunately these little details make each level feel a little bit more rewarding.

In conclusion, Who’s that Flying?! is one of the best 2D shoot ‘em ups to come out in years. It’s fun, short, it has a unique art-style, the music is distinctive and it includes many reasons for replayability. Also, and even though it may have some minor shortcomings, its gameplay it’s entertaining enough to offer a solid experience that not many other games are likely to offer. And that’s an achievement on itself.