Putty Squad logo AGA Amiga Computing Gold Award

The smell of plasticine is in the air. What else could it be? System 3 hits the stretchy platform trail once more and Jonathan Maddock is nothing but putty in their hands...

INTRODUCTION

Two years ago a game arrived on the Amiga games scene that redefined the parameters of the platform games character. Putty was its name and it was received well by press and gamesplayers alike. With scores that didn't go below 90%. Putty was a breath of fresh air in the dull genre of platformers.

System 3, responsible for such quality pieces of software as Myth, created Putty, a character who was able to stretch and morph his (her?) way to computer game success. There was so much more that you could do with your flexible friend that it was quite unlike any other platformer on the market.

Even though the idea was highly original, Putty also shone brighter in the graphics and sound departments than anything that had gone before it.
The sound effects such as carrots shouting "Uzi 9mm" played a major part in the game's success by making it far more entertaining and dare I say it, more fun than a lot of its competitors.

We're now heading towards the end of 1994 and System 3 are back with a vengeance. The sequel to their platform star of 1992, Putty Squad is about to hit the shop shelves and it looks bigger and better than its predecessor. I fear the world is about to go Putty mad once more.

ADDITIONAL INFO

The aim of Putty Squad is to rescue all your plasticine chums who are being held prisoners of war by the evil cat tribe. Along the way through your missions there are several objects which can be picked up. Pick up ten stars and Putty will gain a more powerful punch, 20 will give you arrows to fire, while 30 will give Putty an electric finger to zap his enemies with.

Other goodies include food to top up your health, springs to reach those hard, err, out-of-reach places, and jars of nitro-glycerine which enable Putty to make bombs which will cause as much destruction as possible.


 

SOUND

Sonically, Putty Squad is a notch above the rest. The musical tune which runs throughout isn't too oud and although it sounds rather nifty, the volume is set at this level for one reason. The musical stars are, of course, the humourous sound samples which pop up every few seconds.

Almost every character within the game has their own select sound. From when the Putty shouts when he collects one of his mates to the end laughter when you fail after losing all your lives, every sound, err, sounds great and I can do nothing but applaud the music maestro who put it all together.

Just the introduction of these select samples makes the game more fun to play, inducing you to search out new characters just to see what they say.

Perhaps the best use of the sound sample is when you pick up the musical note icon. Sitting behind a pair of decks, the DJ promptly appears and spins an outrageous scratch-filled hip-hop record.

Immediately, all the enemies stop doing whatever they were doing and start to dance their socks off for a good 20 seconds, allowing Putty to go about his business untroubled. A nice touch of the highest quality.

80%

 

GRAPHICS

As you might expect, Putty Squad contains some of the best cartoon graphics you've seen in a long time. The variety of characters and the sheer quality of these finely sculptured pixels can't fail to impress even the most platform-hating gamesplayer.

The characters range from new stars such as bulbous toads and menacing magicians to Indian rubber men. The game doesn't forget old favourites such as the rampant rocket men and the maniac gun-toting carrot, who incidentally has changed his catchphrase to "Achtung!"

The backgrounds have also been improved upon, mainly due to the fact that the Putty Squad development team have now got access to AGA technology. The location of the game seems to be set in and around the far east with Buddahs dotted around the Arab-esque landscape.

The actual Putty character isn't that much different form the one that appeared in the first System 3 platformer, but I guess he doesn't need to be vastly improved, simply because the game creators did it so well first time around.

The blue blob can still squash himself to the ground for protection, stretch into the air to collect objects, form a fist to whack the enemy and can encase/morph into a baddie and take control of him.

The animation is spot on and the smoothness by which the star of the game jumps and squishes around the screen is very impressive.

85%

 

OPINION86%

I have nothing but praise for John Twiddy, the programmer of Putty Squad, because once again he has produced another quality piece of software. The graphics are beautiful and the animation is excellent, especially on the main character.

The sound adds a lot to the game, giving the player a lot of laughs as he/she makes his/her way through the various levels. The various missions start off easy and slowly get a lot tougher - even dedicated platform heroes might have a few problems later on.

Thankfully the development team have put an ever-so-useful level password option into the game. The only problem is that Putty Squad is for the A1200 only, so A500 owners are going to miss out but they should move with the times and get themselves a new machine because games like this are slowly becoming more commonplace.

The control method, considering just what Putty can do, is very easy to use and becomes second nature to you after only a couple of goes. It is extremely addictive and I put hand on heart and recommend it to everyone. Die-hard platform freaks and Putty fans are going to love it to death.



Putty Squad logo AGA Amiga Format Gold

When System 3 announced their new platform game we posed the questions: will Putty Squad shape up? And will it stretch to a Format Gold score?

There are so many platform games on the market that, in order to stand head and shoulders above the crowd, a new game has to offer something special, if not unique, to interest the potential buyer.

Putty Squad contains several of the best platform game elements. The most important of these - in Putty Squad's case, at least - are characterisation and attention to detail. Putty Squad oozes both of these features from each and every one of its pixellated, and beautifully crafted pores.

Flexible friend
Putty is the eponymous central protagonist of the piece and he is a lovable little amorphous blue blob - take a look at the box out at the top of the opposite page to see just how malleable and flexible he is.

He can wriggle, stretch, punch, bounce, run, melt, absorb, mould and inflate himself - whatever the situation demands. The layout of the various platforms and the demeanour of the many denizens loan themselves perfectly to these types of manoeuvres. As usual with platform games Putty has been laden down with a quite ridiculously dumb plot. So we will not go into it in any great deal here, other than to say that Putty's task is to rescue several captured putties, collect stars to increase his offensive powers and make hilarious use of his ex-enemy - Dweezil The Ginger Cat.

The captured putties are strewn across each level in locations that vary from easy to find to just about, but not quite, impossible to fathom. Accoess to some of the areas requires ingenuity on the part of Putty's controller. And that is one of the main hooks of addictive gameplay.

If Putty Squad's gameplay merely rested on the traversing and negotiation of tricky platforms, it would quickly falter and bore the gamer to tears. But no, all of the levels are dripping with effective, well-animated and humorously cute, cartoon-style guardians. Some of them even exude the same charm and strength of character as Putty or Dweezil themselves.

Malleable mate
Take a look at these: Firework Imps, Frogs, Security Chickens, Hoodlum Chicks, Terminator Carrots, Cockroach Clusters, Floating Fakirs and, well you get the gist. And there are loads more would-be protectors. The platform world inhabitants try to hinder Putty at every available opportunity. Some are easy to despatch, merely requiring a Putty punch.

Others can be jumped on and then punched. Others require more fire power to dispose of adequately. Luckily enough, there are quite a few options to Putty to do this. Firstly, he can absorb some Nitro - one of several useful objects lying around that Putty can use to help him in his quest.

Once he has absorbed the necessary pick-up, Putty can drop time delay bombs at will. This is an incredibly handy ability for disposing of assorted enemies and other bad things. Another method of killing the harder toonies is to call upon the services of Dweezil. You do this by absorbing a tin of cat food and then making use of it to summon Dweezil to your present location.

Pliable pal
If you let Dweezil kick Putty, he snaps his fingers, speeds off on his skateboard and leaves a countdown bomb. This is very useful, especially if you need to rescue a Putty that is protected by a ring of barbed wire.

Putty Squad is the best platformer that I have played for a while. The graphics are absolutely lush. The animation is top notch. The gameplay and difficulty levels are just about perfect and the attention to detail is staggering. All in all, a well-earned Format Gold. Buy it today.


PUTTY'S PUNCH, STRETCH AND SQUASH WORKOUT ROUTINE

Putty Squad
Stretching to the side helps Putty cover ground faster than he would be wriggling.

Putty Squad
Melting like this helps Putty absorb various pick-ups.

Putty Squad
Putty can jump as well as stretch.

Putty Squad
And here is the standard Putty run.

Putty Squad
Punches make a good meaty impact sound.

Putty Squad
The upward stretch helps when climbing stairs.

Putty Squad
X-Ray specs are useful for finding secret doors.

Putty Squad
Absorb a Fire imp and Putty can act like one.

Putty Squad
Inflate. Handy for inaccessible places.

Putty Squad
The Putty balloon is very handy for scouting large levels and locating captured Putties.



- Putty Squad logo AGA

First there was putty. Then there were a whole bunch of amorphous look-alikes. And now there is a squad of the original. Or something like that.

FAX TRANSMISSION
FOR: CAM
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.

FAX TRANSMISSION
FROM: CAM
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

ECT
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.

FAX TRANSMISSION
FOR: CAM
FROM: JONATHAN DAVIES
RE: EXCUSES

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.

FAX TRANSMISSION
FOR: JONAHTAN DAVIES
FROM: CAM
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.

BANDAGES
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.

COUGH
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

FAX TRANSMISSION
FOR: CAM
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.

FAX TRANSMISSION
FOR: JONATHAN DAVIES
FROM: CAM
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.

DRUGS
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!

FAX TRANSMISSION
FOR: CAM
FROM: JONATHAN
RE: PICTURES

Oh that will do I suppose. When can you come in and take all the pictures?

FAX TRANSMISSION
FOR: JONATHAN
FROM: CAM
RE: EXPRESSING SHOCK AND DISBELIEF

"Hnnnng...


QUITE A LOT OF VERY GOOD THINGS

Putty Squad
This module's great for pinpointing all the Putty MIAs.

Putty Squad
The shield stops mortars and makes a great clanking noise.

Putty Squad
Strange I know, but if you go up to the bin and absorb it...

Putty Squad
...a wheely bin trundles on and gives you a power up. Yum, yum.

Putty Squad
This cunning disguise lets you sneak past the stupid guards.

Putty Squad
X-Ray specs show secret doors and are damned stylish too.

Putty Squad
Finally just a few samples of star power ups. A killer fist...

Putty Squad
...and an even more killer dart gun mouth blowpipe, erm, thing.


WHO SAID KICKING CATS CAN'T BE FUN?

Putty Squad
STEP 1: Use a tin of scrummy cat food as a 'bait' or 'lure' for the cat.

Putty Squad
STEP 2: Wait for the cat (or Dwezil as he's known) to arrive. ON his skateboard, naturally. As all cats do..

Putty Squad
STEP 3: On no account let him kick you about. Not only is it embarrassing and painful...

Putty Squad
...but it also ends with the hungry and annoyed cat leaving a large bomb before skating off elsewhere.

Putty Squad
STEP 4: Punch the cat, then bounce up and down on his wounded and unconscious form. Sorted.



Putty Squad logo AGA CU Amiga Super Star

Super Putty was one of the funniest platform games ever released, and now System 3 have come up with a sequel. Tony Dillon prepares to have his ribs tickled and his sides split.

Phil Thornton is a strange bloke. Although on the outside he's sweet and inoffensive - almost Uncle-like in his complacent and easy going nature, he freely admits that he has odd thoughts. How lucky he is, then, that he works in an industry where unusual thoughts and ideas can be turned into a successful product.

Take Super Putty, for example. Find me an industry where creating Terminator Carrots who shout, "Uzi 9 Centimetre" before shooting oversized bullets at you, or an old bloke with a bad wig and a Hammond organ can stop the whole world from doing what they are doing and get down and groove before a small blue blob of putty comes along and punches them is regarded as entertaining, or at least a sane thing to consider.

Phil has been really quiet since Super Putty, and after five minutes of playing System 3's new platform extravaganza, you wonder what he's been doing. Has he been travelling around the world collecting ideas? Has he been working far too many late nights? Or has he just been sitting in a very dark place on his own for a long time exploring his subconscious? Putty Squad is even odder than Super Putty, and a lot more besides.

BOUNCING ALONG
But let's begin with the plot. After 20 years of war between the Putty people and the Wizard Scatterflash, the Putties finally withdrew from the capital city of Klud and the battle itself was deemed to be at an end. That is until the putty nation was quickly occupied and overthrown by the Wizard's army, and the once peaceful and fruitful land became a barren and desolate place.

Years later the UN received blurred and faded photographs showing that all the Putty soldiers who had long been thought dead were actually being kept as Prisoners Of War, and so the decision was made to send someone in to get them out. Napalm the Cat and his collection of G.I. Pups were sent in, but Napalm went mad in the field and made himself a God to the native population of frogs in the area.

Again, someone had to be sent in. Someone who could be trusted. Someone who wasn't about to flip out. Someone who was capable of taking on all the danger on their own and win through. Only one man/ball came to mind. Super Putty himself. This is where you come in. As Putty you have to travel through the 50 levels of the game, freeing the Putty POW's where you find them; as well as annihilating the G.I. Pups and the Wizard's army on your way.

YOUR FLEXIBLE FRIEND
It might seem like a hell of a challenge, but then Putty has already proved what a flexible guy he is. If you remember the first game, you'll remember that there really wasn't anything Putty couldn't do. He could stretch from level to level, lie flat on the floor to avoid detection, run, jump, inflate himself and explode and even absorb other objects and take on their physical form.

In Putty Squad he can do all this, and even more depending on the objects he absorbs. If he collects a jar of Nitro glycerine for example, then he can leave bits of himself dotted around, which explode whenever the enemy come into contact with them.

Collecting the stars that float in mid air can give him some really special powers too. Collecting 10 gives him a super punch, capable of destroying most things. Twenty stars gives him a blow pipe, giving him an even chance against things like the Terminator Carrots, and so on all the way up to the maximum of 40 stars, where Putty becomes the Terminator Putty, destroying everything in his path.

SQUASHY AND STRETCHY
The first thing that strikes you when you play Putty Squad is how fluid it all is. Some people had a lot of trouble with the original game, finding the control method a little too complicated and the game itself far too difficult.

Putty Squad has been far better thought out, losing the puzzle element of the original game and replacing it with a more standard platform game layout, made more interesting by the original control method. Instead of having to think hard about how you are going to move around the screen, you can get moving immediately. It's hard to describe, really, but the controls feel a lot more natural this time around.

Plus the actual levels themselves have a real learning curve - on your first go, you'll have no problem at all moving through the first three or four levels, but not further. With practice, you will actually be able to get to the end of the game fairly easily.

The presentation of the game is fantastic. The sound is, as always, amazing, with great tunes and highly amusing samples. It's got Uncle Ted in it, which is always a bonus as far as I am concerned, and the whole game looks incredible. System 3 have used the AGA palette really well, creating something that's bright and colourful, without being clashing or garish.

Fans of the original Putty will love this. It puts right all of the things that caused anyone problems originally, and then adds a whole lot more.

Putty Squad is a lot of fun to play, and a lot of fun to watch. The whole game has a polished feel to it that most games don't seem to catch these days, and that in itself should be enough to keep most people hooked for weeks.


YOU AIN'T NOTHING BUT A...

The G.I. Pups were originally on your side, but due to the horrors of war that they've been made to face, they've all gone a bit loopy and are now following their original order to 'shoot on sight' a little too literally. Here's the run down of the different Pups you'll get to run across as you go through the game.

GRUNT PUP
A basic, bottom of the range Pup, completely unarmed and fairly easy to kill.

GUN PUP
Just like the Grunt Pup, only this one carries an assault rifle, and therefore needs to be avoided.

GRENADE PUP
The name says it all, really. Again, a basic Grunt Pup, only this one fires grenades at you.

BALLOON PUP
Hangs off a balloon and fires a laser rifle at you. The easiest and best way to get rid of this one is to jump at it and punch the balloon.

MORTAR PUP
This one hides behind a stack of sandbags and fires mortar shells at you. Can't be punched or jumped on.

PARACHUTE PUP
The Parachute Pup gets dropped from the top of the screen and descends towards you firing a bazooka.

UXB PUP
THE UXB Pup controls an electric execution device from the safety of a sandbag emplacement. Again, this one can't be jumped upon or punched.

HELICOPTER PUP
One of the hardest Pups in the game, the Helicopter Pup flies a huge helicopter, drops bombs and is the only thing that can attack you if you are in the Putty Pod.

AQUA PUP
Whenever you travel underwater you'll come across the Aqua Pup, who can swim like a fish and carries a mean harpoon which can cause severe damage.