gadg-et-oid [gaj-it-oid]


1. having the characteristics or form of a gadget;
resembling a mechanical contrivance or device.

Platypus The Little Time-waster That Could

Platypus is one of the latest PDA offerings from Astraware who publish and produce some of the best games that will ever grace your pocket-sized computer.

Platypus gives PDA users what they want out of a game; simple, accessible, time-wasting fun. It does this with unique stylized graphics, instant action gameplay and music that should bring a tear of nostalgia to any Commodore 64 owners eye.

Platypus offers a range of control options suitable for left or right handers (I’m a leftie, for the record) and will rotate your PDA screen accordingly, if your PDA has a weak 5-way navigation control (basically the story with every PDA phone under the sun) then you’ll want to use the touch screen control option. That said even if you have a decent 5-way navigator you’ll probably find the touch screen generally easier, more responsive and more comfortable as you can simply tap where you want your ship to go and leave auto-fire on to take care of your enemies.

I found Platypus somewhat tricky at first because the 5-way navigator on the HTC TYTN (or MDA Vario 3 in this case) is about as suitable for gaming on phones as a mouse and keyboard is for playing anything but RTS, RPG and FPS games… only considerably less so. I had resolved to use the screen but habitually pressed down and tried to ‘drag’ the Platypus ship to the position I wanted it to be. This, of course, doesn’t work so well as the ship will constantly be underneath your finger and will inevitably get blasted to hell by a stray enemy projectile. Once I got to grips with the tap-to-move control system in my second sitting with Platypus the control pain was resolved and the enemy blasting fun began.

As you blast your way through swathes of enemies you will find power-ups that either adjust your main weapon to be something decidedly more exciting and powerful or extend the time remaining on your current power up so you can keep blasting away. Inexplicably your defeated foes will also drop fruit which you can collect to up your score… I’m not quite sure exactly why futuristic/alien fighter pilots carry large amounts of fruit but that might explain why they can’t see out of the cockpit to aim at me when shooting back.

As is typical of side scrolling shoots your enemies will swoop in and do their thing with no real attention to where you might be, firing projectiles willy nilly and looking like they’re partaking in some sort of ariel spectacle being observed from below by crowds of binocular sporting onlookers. You must both avoid crashing into them, avoid their projectiles and make as many of your lasers/bullets/missiles hit home as you possibly can… that’s as complex as it gets.

In short you will face foes of many different sizes and styles both flying and fixed and clay fruit will rain from the heavens over clay fields… I really wish I could think of a pun relating to clay now.

At $19.95 I’m tempted to say that Platypus is a touch on the expensive side, but its charmingly unique graphics, simple gameplay, catchy music and sheer suitability as a timewaster go a long way toward justifying that price. I can’t help but think the clay graphics (which are not as unique or original as you might think) would look much better on something more than a phone screen.

Overall Platypus is another one of the ranks of timewasting mobile games and I can’t say I’ve played anything like it on a phone before… apart from the vertical scroller I think the Nokia or Sony Erricsson phones had back in the 90s which Platypus far exceeds. If you’re interested enough to want to learn more about or buy the game then you can head over to Astraware and do just that!

Beware the music in Platypus, it’ll have you humming the catchy C64 inspired tunes for days after you pick up and play it!

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008, Computer Gaming, Windows Mobile.