FROM: JONATHAN DAVIES
RE: CLICHÉD OPENING PARAGRAPHS
Hi Cam. Sorry you are not feeling very well at the moment. Strangely enough though, the office seems to be working as a cohesive unit without you, so I guess you are not the irreplaceable computer journo god you always imagine yourself to be. Anyway, I have got the doctor's note you sent in, so get well soon and only come back when you are no longer contagious.
Spending three weeks in bed must be a real drag, so I am sending something for you to play, and while you are playing it, you might as well review it as well. It is the sequel to Putty (AP18, 90%) and it is imaginatively titled Putty Squad.
However, I am a bit worried that your opening paragraph will read like every other review of the game in rival (and inferior) mags, so on no account include any of the following:
1. Any mention of windows falling out due to lack of putty. It simply is not funny anymore.
2. Any mention of Blob, Globdule or any of those other amorphous blob-related games.
3. Any childhood reminiscences of how great Silly Putty was, or how your mum nearly killed you when you lost some and it melted into the carpet.
4. A plot synopsis of your favourite episode of Trap Door.
TO: AMIGA POWER
RE: PUTTY SQUAD PROBLEMS
Hello Team. Glad to hear you are all so concerned about my well being. I have not managed to play the game yet as there is some doubt about whether autoclaving the Amiga will ruin it or not, and interference from the TV stopped my respirator earlier today, so that is another problem the paramedics will have to sort out.
I remember the original game fondly, although it did have shortfalls. It was too small and I thought far too fiddly in places, but System 3 reckon they have sorted that out. Putty Squad has got over 50 levels (as opposed to the paltry seven in the original) which does sound a bit more like it.
Interference from the TV stopped my respirator
The original game had some inoffensive story about rescuing robots to build a tower, but this one has got the storyline from hell. Have you ever seen Apocalypse Now? Well, Putty is now in the Martin Sheen role, Dweezil the cat is his support man and another cat called Napalm is playing Kurtz.
There is also a whole load of dogs playing the parts of foot soldiers and millions of local frogs as the bewildered natives. You have got to go in, rescue prisoner of war putty's and take out Napalm, but all this typing's plum tuckered me out, so I will give it another go tomorrow.
FROM: JONATHAN DAVIES
What is this? Feel sorry for Cam week? It must be awful for you lying in bed while the rest of us work our derrières off. Don't give me excuses. Play the game. I must have the copy by Friday. Or you're fired.
FOR: JONAHTAN DAVIES
RE: BITS OF COPY
Jonathan, your last fax sent me into relapse last night, but I have managed to play the game and (with the help of a stick tied to my head and a nurse to mop my fevered brow) laboriously typed out the first few bits of my review. I will leave you to bolt on some kind of an intro passage, so here is some game critique...
One thing you notice about Putty Squad is that when you play it, the world takes notice. Maybe it is the relentlessly silly sound effects, perhaps it is the almost quite listenable music, or maybe, just maybe it is the fact that whoever is playing it looks like they are having a truly great time. It is a fun platform game. I repeat, it is a fun platform game. Do you have any idea how incredible those words sound to all of us lot at AMIGA POWER?
We play games all the time because it is our job, but if there is one thing guaranteed to ruin our day, then it is another bland platformer. Just when I was beginning to think that every forthcoming platform game was going to be terrible, Putty Squad has come long and restored my faith in the future of video games.
For a start, it does not feel like a platform game. This might be because the platforms, ladders and lifts are so well integrated into the scenery that there is none of that ridiculous 'platform suspended in nothingness' nonsense, but at the same time, since all the ladders, lifts, etc actually look like ladders, you rarely dive at something only to discover it is scenery.
The fact that you control a stringy blob of putty also takes away that platform feeling, as all the normal climbing and jumping action is transformed into stretching, squishing and bouncing, which is neatly accompanied by tortured balloon sound effects.
Another innovation is that the levels are different shapes. It is such a simple idea that I am surprised more platform designer do not use it, but then again, it does require a modicum of thought. I most platformers, you start off at the bottom left hand corner and work your way right, but in Putty Squad, some levels are long and thin, some are small and thin and others are square. This means that you have got to work pretty hard to find all the prisoner puttys and bring them on home.
Look Jonathan, that is all I can do, honestly. The doctor says I should rest tonight seeing as the transplant is tomorrow morning, and I think I might be getting a cold. I will type more out later, but now I am tired. So very, very tired.
Jump up and punch a dog soldier
FROM: JONATHAN DAVIES
RE: YOUR EMPLOYMENT
You call that reviewing? It is pathetic, and worse than that, it is not enough to fill the page. I have instructed your surgeon to operate under local anaesthetic, and you can damn well type while you are lying around. I need this review finished quickly, otherwise it could well be time for you to re-examine your position on the mag.
And what about the graphics, why haven't you mentioned that yet? Putty slithers and bloats and slinks along wonderfully. All the other characters look straight out of a cartoon, but you haven't mentioned them. The way the dog soldiers load the mortar or pull out their guns before they fire is masterful animation, yet you have not mentioned those either.
Or the floating mystic throwing angry tomatoes at you, or the way that baddies go out in a load of bubbles in the underwater levels, or the neat way each and every character is animated perfectly. Why haven't you mentioned these yet? Sort it out by tonight or send in your surgeon to clean your desk.
FOR: JONATHAN DAVIES
RE: BITS OF COPY
Can't... think... it's the... special medicine they've given... me. Think Cam, think think think.
I was going to mention the graphics in the captions and leave the gorgeous pictures to tell their own tale. Once again I am touched by your overriding concern for my well being.
I was planning on using the space saved by not mentioning the graphics to rave about the superior and well thought-out gameplay. Have you actually played this game yet? It is superb. Like most platform games you have to pick things up (in this case the MIA puttys and stars, but there is also a wealth of power-ups and helpful items available.
The stars first. They increase Putty's punching power, so he goes from a normal punch to a power punch, darts, electrocution and even bombs which make whacking out all the nasties a lot easier. Every time you get hit, you lose a star, so sneaking around the levels is rewarded by your power gradually increasing. As well as the normal attack, if you jump up and punch a dog soldier, he flattens down into his helmet and then use his compressed bod as a weapon to take out other nasties, a bit like in the Mario games.
Come to think of it, there is a good few Mario touches, such as secret doors and blocks that regurgitate helpful items when you jump on them. If you tap enough blocks or smash enough crates, you will find all manner of Good Things such as Groucho Marx novely glasses and nose sets, shields, springs, cat food and nitro glycerine.
Out of all of these, the cat food is one of the most vital ones as it is the only way to lure Dweezil to you. (Dweezil, if you remember, was your enemy in the first game, but now Putty has formed an uneasy alliance with him, and being a bit of a fat cat, you can thump him and use his prostate form as a trampoline to reach those hard to get platforms).
It is a bit of an odd idea, but the real joy of Putty Squad is that everything is logical within its own odd little world. I hate games where some things float and others don't, where you can move some object but not others and where you can swim across some levels and in others water's fatal.
There is none of that in Putty Squad though, so you can move the unconscious Dweezil with a punch the same way you can slide a nitro bomb over to a mortar bunker.
There is loads of little bits in the game that are brilliant refinements. Rather than battling both ways to reach a prisoner putty, you can often drip down through the floor and escape using an alternative route, or if you miss a moving platform, you can often reach the other side rather than pointlessly falling to your death.
Which brings me neatly on to the few gripes I have got with the game. There is too many instant deaths for my liking, most notably falling off the bottom of the screen variety. The screen is so busy and wonderful and colourful that it is hard to work out where the bottom of the level actually is, so you often jump down a hole only to find you are dead.
There are also a few baddies that kill you the instant you touch them, which is something I could do without, but they are usually easy to spot and avoid, and are not a complete disaster. Minor problems indeed for such a great game, so buy, buy, buy!
Oh that will do I suppose. When can you come in and take all the pictures?
RE: EXPRESSING SHOCK AND DISBELIEF