Last month Flyhunter Origins was released on the PlayStation Vita for €6.99. It was published by Ripstone and developed by Steel Wool Games. This little platformer is the studio’s first game. Steel Wool Games was created by five artists experienced in the animation industry who have worked on much loved films such as The Incredibles and Toy Story.
You play the alien Zak, a bumbling janitor on the spaceship ‘The Frog’ who looks up to ‘Flyhunters’, the crew who hunt and capture insects for “The Investors”. Unfortunately while said flyhunters are in cryo-sleep, Zak accidentally releases the crew and the cargo into space causing everything and everyone to scatter and crash land on Earth. Its now up to Zak to rescue the crew and reclaim the insects.
This story is told through bright, animated cutscenes which show the characters in their best light. Oddly Zak and the crew speak in an alien language with English subtitles but the guide that directs Zak simply speaks English. The acting and dialogue is full of good humour so even though you can tell where the basic plot is going, how it leads you there is still fun to watch.
The gameplay is less interesting, Flyhunter Origins is a very basic 2.5D platforming game. There are 21 short levels in which you can move left and right, jumping and using a fly swatter or zap gun to fight enemies. Eggs can be collected throughout the levels to pay for weapon upgrades but this too is a short and simple system, you can have both your weapons fully upgraded very early in the game. There are hidden sections in each level hiding more eggs which you can seek out and you can aim to get a perfect score if you want to fully complete each level. The only other extra is that you can change the appearance of Zak’s suit to a variety of different looks.
After every couple of platforming levels there will be a bit of variety when Zak finds the insect he has been hunting and a chase ensues. Here you will have to dodge obstacles and collect energy to speed boost in order to catch up with the insect and attack it to wear it down and capture it. To mix things up as well you will sometimes take control of Ara, one of the flyhunters Zak accidentally released from The Frog. As the game quickly progresses you will see how each of these aliens is faring since the crash land to Earth.
The backgrounds of the levels on Earth can be garish with their bright colours and blurred details but getting to see the world close up as an alien the size of a fly is fun. Throughout levels there are large cans and other items that form parts of the level you traverse. Its good to see the insects as the same size as our hero. This is a more unique perspective than seeing them as massive almost monster like creatures as can be the case in stories where tiny characters have to interact with our world.
Flyhunter Origins is a VERY easy game. The only time you can expect any difficulty is when the controls let you down. At some points I would try to make Zak walk left or right and he would be stuck in place moving but going nowhere. Usually when this happened after a few moments I would regain control, only once did it require me to restart the level and then the levels are so short you don’t lose much progress anyway. If Zak dies he reappears at the last checkpoint you’ve crossed, these are generously scattered throughout each level. The checkpoints makes a copy of Zak and creates a clone of him each time he dies. Its probably best not to think too much about that one, it reminded me of The Prestige film…
While quick and easy, the game is aimed at a younger audience. However if a child owns a Vita of their own they will be playing games that are deeper than this. There are plenty of excellent cartoony platformers such as Sly Cooper, Ratchet & Clank and Rayman. It could be seen as more aimed towards a parent who owns a Vita themselves but wants to buy a game on it so that their child can have a go of it too.
Flyhunter Origins is not a bad game but its not what I’d consider a good one either. There is nothing here to really recommend, everything just feels very basic and perhaps is better suited to a smartphone. Its a simple game that you can breeze your way through or let a young family member try out as their first platforming Vita game.