A Nightmare on Sesame Street
Perhaps more so than any other type of game, First-Person Shooters stick rigidly to tried and tested conventions and formulaic plots, most usually boiling down to dashing around a dystopian future blasting monsters with a gun the size of a house, or slaughtering slimy aliens aboard a space ship that looks like something straight out of an 80’s sci-fi flick.
Refreshingly, Twindigo’s Puppet War FPS does things a little differently. No, actually scratch that, it does things a lot differently…
The wacky premise is as follows. Not content with fame, fortune and the adoration of ankle-biters everywhere, the titular stars of kids’ TV sensation The Friendly Puppet Show decide to try their fluffy hand at taking over the world. And it seems the lantern-jawed space-marines and cigar chomping ladies men are all otherwise engaged, because it falls to you, playing as a scrawny janitor armed with a mop, to save the day. Uh-ohs!
Hilariously at odds with the gritty aesthetic and environments FPS fanatics are used to, the ensuing action is set against the day-glo bright and cloyingly cute backdrop of the Friendly Puppet studio, enemies all look like Elmo from Sesame Street’s evil twin, and the usual selection of guns and grenades are joined by an array of less conventional weapons like a pair of pliers, a katana, and laughing gas.
If you hadn’t already guessed as much, Puppet War is one hell of a crazy ride. Each level sees you going up against a small army, tasked with taking down a set number of deranged puppets. Battles are fast-paced, action packed and raucously funny. Pumping hot lead into puppets, lopping their heads off, slicing them to ribbons and blowing them to smithereens truly is ridiculously entertaining and a sight for sore eyes.
As you work your way through the game, things get progressively harder, with ninjas, zombies, giants, suicide bombers, and other variations of cuddly killers all crashing the party at some point. Twindigo have obviously spent a lot of time cooking up the game’s bizarre scenario and kooky characters; but that doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten the basics. For starters, the controls (always a concern when it comes to a touchscreen FPS) work incredibly well, while the 3D visuals and destructible scenery also impress.
Once the novelty factor of shooting and stabbing cuddly puppets to death wears off – strange as it may sound, it eventually does – there’s still a lot to enjoy here. Unlocking the game’s beefy selection of weaponry will keep you busy for quite a while, a selection of survival stages add re-playability, and there’s a raft of extras such as online leaderboards and achievements for OpenFeint fans. That said, overall, Puppet War could still benefit from the inclusion of more environments, a larger roster of baddies, and some boss enemies. I mean Sesame Street did also feature a woolly mammoth, a vampire, and a scary bum that lived in a bin; the possibilities for humorous homage are endless if you ask me.
iFanzine Verdict: This satirical swipe at the FPS genre is wonderfully bonkers and laugh out loud funny. Beyond the inherent comedy value of its daft premise, Puppet War is also a solidly made shooter and one of the slickest and most enjoyable to hit iPhone yet.