Platypus can perhaps best be described as a chemistry experiment. The game is mix of one part clay, one part touchscreen, and one part Defender.
The background story of this title involves your peaceful community of Mungola being attacked by an aggressive alien race. Your job is to defend the Mungolites with your trusty Platypus fighter plane. Thankfully, the story is of zero consequence and instead, the game is all about simplistic, side-scrolling shooting. Truthfully, there isn’t a whole lot here that you haven’t seen before. The Platypus fighter zips along the areas of Mungola while gunning down enemy fighters, racking up points in the process. After certain large ships are destroyed, they will release some flying fruit that you can collect to increase your score. In addition, destroying a complete wave of enemy ships can result in a star power-up drop. The star will alternate colors every time you shoot it, and each color corresponds to the timed weapon upgrade that your ship will receive after it is collected. A yellow star gives you a spread gun, blue converts your standard bullets into a rapid fire version, a green star provides a broad-beam laser, and a red star equips your ship with missiles. Each time the Platypus is upgraded with one of these stars, you obtain 20 seconds of unlimited firing power to blast away the wave after wave of incoming ships.
There are two options for play control on your Palm. The first is using the touchscreen with a stylus. The second is to use the d-pad. The d-pad control is slow, and seems a little rough for a hardware key that wasn’t really meant to take game-playing abuse. Therefore, you’ll want to use the stylus to touch and drag your ship all over the screen. The only downside is that I would have liked to be able to occasionally switch between the two styles on the fly because your hand can get tired of using the stylus after awhile. You can switch between stylus and d-pad control, but you have to pause the game and dig through the menu each time you do it. The other control option is to choose between button-based or an automatic, continuous weapon fire. Since there is no penalty for hit percentage, there is no reason to not choose continuous fire.
The gameplay is crisp, smooth and simple, but also repetitive. There are 5 different areas and each area has several different levels. However, there isn’t much to differentiate between the levels, other than there being a larger type of “boss” battle at the end of the last level from a given area. Sure, there’s an occasion power line that you need to fly under or a radar tower or storage depot on the ground that you can blow up, but there could have been collectables or small extra incentives built into the game to improve the longevity of gameplay. Still, what Platypus does bring to the table is outstanding graphical quality to the Palm OS platform. The claymation world is unique and vibrant. The illusion of depth in the background of each area is impressive and the models, explosions, bullets, and overall presentation of Platypus is just…cool. Kudos to the art direction as this is probably the best looking Palm game I’ve ever seen. I just wish the gameplay had been spiced up a little bit so it wasn’t so repetitive. If you’re interested, you can head on over to Astraware and try out a demo of the game. It’s definitely worth a look, if for no other reason than to see the cool graphics.