Zak, a miniature alien with a single bulging eye and expressive puppy-like ears, is a complete idiot. He’s the caretaker of a deep space cargo ship carrying a collection of jumbo flies. Due to his bumbling idiocy and the cruelty of domestic service, Zak accidentally jettisons not just his creepy cargo, but the captain as well. What a pickle. The only thing he can do is scour the Earth for his precious flies and try not to get eaten by frogs. It’s a timeless classic.
Flyhunter Origins is a playful and bright platformer suitable for both adults and children. It has an amusing story and charming Monsters Inc-ish characters. I had an almost irresistible urge to hug my Vita, and would have done so had it not been for all the insects and – shudder – spiders. As a serious arachnophobe who has been known to vomit at just the thought of hairy legs, I was none too pleased at being asked to review this one. But, you know, it’s a testament to how good the game is that I managed to get all the way through it. Palpitations aside, Flyhunter Origins is a great little game and even though I had to hold the Vita at arm’s length and the neighbours banged on the wall due to all the screaming, I enjoyed it immensely.
Bounce and boost dim-witted Zak through Earth’s dangerous and deadly back gardens. Leap from leaf to gnome and don’t get caught in the nasty flytraps. There will be plenty of bugs to hinder your progress, so get out your giant swatter and squish any ant or other undisclosed bug that gets its sticky feelers in your way. Spiders and other larger scumbag creepy crawlies might need subduing with your zapper gun, and don’t panic if a woodlouse curls up and rolls towards you like a giant bolder. Indiana Jones, you are not, so bounce over it and scuttle away. Likewise, you’ll bump into some very unladylike ladybirds who will happily dive bomb you into oblivion. Use your paralysing zapper gun wisely and always be prepared to scurry off into the distance. You can collect eggs along your way which can be traded for upgrades to your weapons. Some insects take several thwacks with a Mark I swatter, and as a phobic and irrational crazy person prone to scrunching my eyes shut at such moments, this was unacceptable. I went out of my way for those eggs and upgraded to Mark III at the earliest possible opportunity. Thwack and go, that’s my motto.
The controls are easy enough. X will make Zak jump and pressing X again mid-jump will make him do a boost or double jump – think Destiny but with more beetles. Square will whip out your zapper and Circle will flap your swatter. Mostly, the jumping mechanics work very well, but occasionally you are faced with jumps that have to be timed and positioned so carefully that frustration may erupt into potty mouth. In particular, trying to get across ponds using the water skaters was difficult and annoying. I also encountered two bastard frogs that ate me even though I was nowhere near them. Once you eventually make it to your giant escaped fly at the end of each level, you will then have to catch it. Buckle up for flight because you will be racing through the air, swatter flapping until you clobber the escapee enough times to bring it crashing down.
All this fun with hairy legs and exploding insect pus is accompanied by some pleasing music, including a space-western track reminiscent of Joss Whedon’s Firefly. In fact, there is a shout-out to the show in the form of an escaped firefly in a chapter entitled Serenity. Graphically, this is a lovely looking game with a smooth framerate, colourful environments and flawless comedy cut scenes. I tried not to look at the spiders too much but I can confirm they are scary. Steel Wool Games have done a great job, and with a budget price there’s not much reason to say no.
Flyhunter Origins is a buzzing little platformer that’s crammed full of humour and charming graphics. While there are some moments of frustration, you will spend most of your time gleefully leaping leaf to leaf, mushroom to mushroom. But be warned, fellow arachnophobics, there are hairy legs everywhere and not a Gillette in sight.
S J Hollis Rating 7/10