It's many a year since I've put aside time to play with plasticine or a lump of wet clay, but I can honestly say it was a favourite activity of mine at school. Out would come the green plastic boards with the lumpy stuff plonked on top. Charged with making something historical or even scientific, most of us would actually muddy our hands with houses, rockets, or an attempt at one of our unfortunate faces. More often than not, my own mug would look more like a blind cobbler's thumb than anything that resembled me.
It's not easy molding that stuff into something detailed – you're better off sticking with simpler designs, or icons that we all recognise. Icons such as spaceships, for instance. Whole teams of spaceships, firing at each other, shooting great globule missiles trying to take each other out. No, my imagination hasn't run wild – I've just been playing Platypus.
If nothing else, Platypus draws a line between itself and other shooters simply because of the way it looks. Using real photos of plasticine for everything you see onscreen, it looks like no other game you've ever come across. It simply makes your iPhone look like its been overrun by the stuff, bursting with both colour and shapeliness. You feel like you could almost touch it.
And touch it you should, because while this side-scrolling shooter offers two methods of control – either tilting the phone or touching the screen – going hands-on offers the most reward. The touchscreen controls allow you to dodge oncoming enemies or missiles with greater dexterity and speed.
With the screen gently scrolling from right to left, you simply have to move your ship around, shooting at anything and everything coming your way by tapping a button in the corner. Taking down the leagues of smaller ships is no real problem, but larger vessels often require sustained firing before they can be destroyed. Of course they do offer reward after impact, leaving a trail of fruit that ups your score considerably.
Any contact with any of your adversaries immediately results in a life lost. The only thing you should aim to touch are stars that transform your weapon for a short period of time, giving your arsenal a slightly different flavour by allowing your weapon to fire over a greater range or at a quicker rate. Indeed, you can cycle through those on offer by shooting at the star itself before contact.
Your primary concern is shooting down as many ships as you can. For the veterans pilot this initially doesn't present much of a challenge. Platypus's enemies often come in set patterns, slow to maneuver and easy to avoid. This makes it the perfect first step for anyone looking to grasp a shooter for the first time, making the game's stunning family-friendly visuals all the more important.
This puts Platypus in the slightly awkward position of being attractive enough to pull in both fans and newcomers alike, but perhaps only having the goods to sustain and entertain the former. Nevertheless, it's not a bad thing to be a memorable first step and there's little chance of anyone forgetting the delights Platypus has molded onto the iPhone.