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Flyhunter Origins

For: iPhone   Also on: Android, iPad, PS Vita, Steam

Beautiful debugging

Product: Flyhunter Origins | Developer: Steel Wool Games | Publisher: Ripstone | Format: iPhone | Genre: Arcade, Platform | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0.0
Flyhunter Origins iPhone, thumbnail 1
While the rest of the games world returns to the raw pixels of yesteryear for its platformers, Steel Wool Games has gone in the opposite direction.

Flyhunter Origins
is a triumph of smartphone gaming animation, which isn't altogether surprising given that actual Pixar animators are the driving force behind it.

But astonishing graphics are almost suspicious these days. We've been dazzled by them too many times in the past when they've been employed to camouflage lacklustre gameplay. So how does Flyhunter Origins pan out if we play it with our artistic eyes closed?

Actually, we're pleased to say, pretty well. Though we must admit that try as we might, it's damn hard to see past these stunning visuals.

It 'swat' you wanted

Zak is a tiny space janitor who gets to sweep the spaceship while everyone else enjoys a peaceful journey in cryogenic sleep.

While enjoying having the ship to himself, Zak accidentally jettisons the crew and the ship's cargo of giant. So you're drafted to help him head out in a one-man landing party to Earth to collect them back up.

Armed with a trusty flyswatter and a jetpack, your task is simple and classic. You're trekking through a familiar viewed-from-the-side macro-environment of large plants and even larger insects, jumping and double jumping - thanks to the jet pack - around the leaves and warrens in search of things to collect.

When you drill down into the gameplay, that's mostly all there is to it. The levels aren't particularly elaborate in their design. Things are nicely broken up by the occasional third-person racing moment, much as you might have enjoyed in the Sega Saturn classic Nights.

So no, it's not overly challenging in that respect, but this return to time-honoured platform gaming isn't at all unwelcome.

Flyhunter Origins isn't hiding anything behind nostalgic gameplay. It's clear that it was intended to revive the efforts of Nights, or Donkey Kong Country, or even the likes of the Kirby and Mario games.

It's a love letter to platformers of 15 years hence, and it achieves its goal with style. A lot of style.

As snug as a bug

The gameplay might be targeting a very specific demographic, but the look of Flyhunter Origins has universal appeal. You can see from the moment it loads that the force of passion behind the game comes from animators as much as game designers.

The environments look great, but it really shines in its ability to tell a story and deliver a character you want to embrace.

Zak isn't unlike the Minions of Dispicable Me, but his personality is very much his own. His antics are delivered with impeccable comedic timing, and his movements are fluid and impressively organic.

If we recommended buying a game purely based on graphics and animation, Flyhunter Origins would be at the top of such a superficial list.

Indeed, it's easy to see why it's called Origins, as the main character is easily capable of spawning a cult following that will want to know more about him (and to collect his plush toys).

Flyhunter Origins is a circa 2000 platformer in every respect, which the PS2 generation will find especially appealing. It's graphical quality and style of gameplay screams of a gaming era that's yet to fully enjoy a wide revival, and if any game could spark that renaissance, this is it.

But it comes at a price many won't be willing to pay. Not in terms of the actual pound notes, but in giving up a gigabyte of download time and storage space, and committing to a game that places console-heavy demands on your level of dedication.

Flyhunter Origins
is a game you'd expect to play in the living room, not on the train, and therefore feels a little cumbersome in the pocket.

That said, we feel ungrateful rebuffing production levels of this quality. Anyone who's okay with such an epic download is likely to be equally okay with the gameplay.

And yet, if you balk at a grabbing a gig's worth of game from the App Store, it's probably not for you.
Flyhunter Origins
Reviewer photo
Spanner Spencer | 18 November 2014
A dazzling game that plays about half as well as it looks, but it does look absolutely incredible. If you can stomach installing a massive file like this, you’ll find plenty to enjoy
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