Who’s That Flying?! is one of those games that’s almost perfect for the iPhone. The levels are short and action-packed, the controls are tight, and the game is a cinch to pick up and play. It might even have the potential to sell a bajillion copies if it weren’t so infuriating.
Your goal in WTF is to protect various cities from thousands of toothy, flying blobs that swoop onto the screen in playful formations. You control a superhero who shoots a nonstop stream of bullets and has complete freedom to fly around the screen. In fact, you’re so powerful that you don’t even have a health bar: you can’t die. However, if 50 blobs make it past you it’s game over.
Fire when you can see the whites of their teeth.
It’s old-school-style fun, kind of like R-Type mixed with Bit.Trip Beat. But here’s where it gets frustrating. To up the difficulty, the game sends super-sized monsters at you. These guys come in a variety of forms, from ones that shoot debilitating toxins at you, to horned beasts that ram you into a temporary coma. You don’t have to kill these big guys– they’ll never try to go past you– but they do get in the way, and they take a lot of bullets to destroy.
So in the game’s later levels, you’ll face off against big monsters that form blockades as the tiny ones zip on past you, edging you ever closer to failure. You constantly have to decide whether to take the time to kill the big enemies, or to try to sneak by them and focus on the little ones. Frankly, once you get to the game’s halfway point it becomes more trouble than it’s worth. With so many big enemies onscreen blocking your shots at the small ones, the game feels downright cheap.
Pick on someone your own size.
But WTF isn’t all bad by a long shot. The first half of the game– before the big enemies start coming at you in large numbers– is highly entertaining. The controls are silky-smooth, the sound effects are top notch, and the graphics are close to cartoon quality. And waiting at the end of each world is a boss so big that the camera has to zoom out to fit it in the frame. The developers have created a surprisingly diverse set of enemies using little more than black blobs, eyes, and teeth.
To pad out the game’s replay value, they’ve included an endless mode with Game Center leaderboards and a challenge mode that’s unlocked once you beat the single-player campaign. That is, if you’re good enough.
As it stands, WTF is a highly polished and enjoyable– if excruciatingly frustrating– game. If they adjusted the difficulty, it could be a killer app. Until then, we can’t say it’s a Must Have. But if you’re up for a serious challenge, Who’s That Flying?! is the game for you.