Ahh, the early 90s. It seemed like everybody with a printer had a gaming magazine, and everybody that didn’t had their own gaming studio. Then, it seemed that just as soon as all of these companies sprouted up, they started to fall. The best thing about going through some of these old magazines is the graveyard worth of forgotten companies and abandoned titles you come across. I specifically remember nonstop advertising for “Socks the Cat Rocks the Hill” in 1993 and 1994. That was a game that was supposed to star Chelsea Clinton’s cat running amok in the White House and never published due to studio closure. Then there’s the other side of things with Duke Nukem Forever, a game that stayed in a “Will he won’t he?” status for nearly 20 years before it did release, and should probably have stayed in the “won’t he” pile.
One game surpasses the life cycle of both those games, however. Putty Squad was a game that Ocean Entertainment announced in 1993 and had originally projected for Worldwide release in 1994 for multiple consoles and the PC. However, they started to move away from publishing after releasing it in the PAL regions for Super Nintendo and the game sat on the shelf otherwise until 2010 when it was supposed to be released for the Playstation 3, and eventually the Playstation Vita. Things went silent at that point and yet again, those still interested in the title would have to wait.
Finally, community support kicked up again in 2013. You see, Amiga gamers that have remained loyal to the system were vocal enough for rights holders System 3 to release the game, and they did so as a Christmas gift to that community last year following the PAL region release for the PS4 as a launch title. It took a couple months, but Putty Squad is now available for the PS4 in North America, fully cleaned up and remastered. Playstation 3 and Vita gamers finally have their day too. Let’s take a look.
Release Date: March 11th 2014 (March 31st for Playstation 3 and PS Vita)
Overall Rating: E for Everyone
The timing of this game was a bit bizarre, considering it came out on the same day that Titanfall did, but the price point does make it a bit desirable, considering you end up with a 50+ level game for half the price of a retail title. When you load the game up, you’re greeted with a title screen and music that I can only describe as pure early 90s gaming. Loud title screens and music straight out of an episode of Rocko’s Modern Life.
Then you load the game up, and you’re sucked into a game that I can only describe as a blast from the past. The object of the game is for you to rescue fellow kidnapped putties from various enemies throughout each level. Each mission starts on a timer and you have to beat enemies or find stopwatches to extend your time. You yourself are a multi-faceted blue blob with different special abilities. You start with a basic punch and the ability to inflate yourself, but can collect other powerups throughout to give you other weapons at your arsenal. You can also collect little things along the way for more points – Stars, stickers and you’re even awarded bonus points based on the number of enemies you defeat, and how you defeat them.
I admit, I was playing much of this game with a funny look on my face. You see, here I am in 2014 getting this game in my hands, and I swear this was the type of game I used to bike to the video store to rent back in 1994, when I couldn’t decide between renting something new, or just getting Rock n’ Roll Racing for the 47th time (On a side note: THERE’S a title that could use a licensed revival.) Everything in this game is just so over the top though that you can’t help but smile. The voice announcer sounds like the guy from the original Killer Instinct. The sound effects and situations you get yourself into are just like watching a 90s Nickelodeon cartoon. In typical 90s game fashion, there are secret levels all over the place, and you can even collect objects to make you invincible.
Taking this game at face value, it is good for what it offers, but it doesn’t offer much. The graphics are great for what this title is, and the soundtrack is about where it needs to be. Controls aren’t tough to figure out, and Putty is about as responsive as you expect him to be.
The game isn’t terribly difficult. In fact, I’d say it’s easily a kids game, and will definitely be a hit amongst your young ones. I should make that clear. Any negativity I have toward this title is my own as a long-time gamer, and I know this game isn’t in my demographic anymore. The game really won’t hold the interest of older or adult gamers. I’m a patient gamer who reviews Nintendo’s titles all the time (regardless of age demographic) and this title had me looking elsewhere after about an hour or so. Truth be told, this is a genre of game we’ve grown out of since the 90s, and unfortunately, unless you’re REALLY looking for that trip down memory lane yourself, it’s not for you. However, there are so many other trips down memory lane available from the actual games we played (via digital download from things like Nintendo’s Virtual Console) that it’s hard to rekindle memories through a title you’ve probably never played before.
It’s been so long since I’ve popped in a game like this where you side scroll levels mashing buttons and trying not to run out of time that my mind honestly spaces from PS1-present, and the only games I can really compare this to are some Genesis era titles like Dynamite Headdy or Ristar. Granted, those weren’t bad games by any means, but it’s really strange to see a game like this get a retail release. I would have completely understood if this was an arcade style downloadable game, especially considering it’s not even a 1 GB download to your hard drive, and it’s basically a defunct genre of game from yesteryear.
As I said above though, it’s a game the kids will love. What 8-10 year old gamers aren’t sucked in by the idea of a piece of putty turning part of his body into a punching glove and bopping enemies for time and points? I could put this game in front of my younger cousins and I guarantee they’ll spend all day playing this. Putty Squad is so vibrant and engaging for the younger audience that if you have younger and eager gamers in the home, this game will keep them entertained for hours on end, and for parents, your wallet won’t sting since you can bring this title home so cheaply. There have been a lot of negative reviews of this game posted online, but it’s a perfectly fine title for the audience and age group it wants to hit. 20 and 30-something reviewers just aren’t that audience.
Get the game for the kids and sit with them on a rainy Saturday afternoon and enjoy. It’s a lovely title for the family. Skip the game if you’re looking for a new title yourself. You’ve got much more complex and violent games awaiting you.
Gameplay: 3 / 5
Graphics: 3 / 5
Sound: 3.5 / 5
Controls: 4 / 5
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4 / 5
Overall: 3.5 / 5 (70%)
The latest version of Putty Squad is now available for Playstation 4, and you can still pre-order the Playstation 3 and Playstation Vita versions.