One of the games that I got some playtime with at E3 was Flyhunter Origins — an under-the-radar PS Vita title from a team of five Pixar animators. They're taking all of that experience with one of the most impressive animation studios and bringing it into the gaming industry. Flyhunter Origins is their first effort — an action-platformer/chase game that hearkens back to the days of the original PlayStation and PlayStation 2.
You can see their experience really come through in the cutscenes, which are gorgeously rendered and has that Pixar charm to them. You're introduced to Zak, the main character, who is a janitor on a spaceship. The crew are known as Flyhunters — a group of poachers. The thing is, the flyhunting voyage is funded by the intergalactic mob. Well, while orbiting Earth, Zac accidentally ejects the ship's cargo — exotic insects from the latest hunt — and crew into space. The mob then tasks Zac with recapturing the flies.
Zac is bumbly and goofy, but so darn likeable. Steel Wool Games handles everything with charm, even presenting death and respawning in a way that's cute and funny. The platforming is simple but very enjoyable, and the levels are colorful and vibrant. It's a really pretty game. Zac is armed with a jump, double-jump via a little boost, and a fly swatter to swat the bugs. Since you're a tiny alien the same size as the bugs, you're getting a microscopic view of the environment. You're running on dirt and jumping on leaves. Flowers stand high above you. It feels like Honey I Shrunk the Kids. You're also able to upgrade your fly swatter into different, more powerful weapons to catch bugs.
After each episode, you hunt your fly in a chase scene. The one I chased was the fruit fly, so he was quite fast but didn't have a ton of health. You chase him through a corridor-type level, get close, and then swat him when the game prompts you to. You have to actively dodge obstacles or you'll collide and set you back a little. This level was a little long and more difficult than I thought it would be. It needs more polish because it stuttered a few times and at times I went through the rock obstacles. I hope they do some adjusting on these chase levels with the difficulty.
Flyhunter Origins is a very promising Vita title from a studio with a bright future. They're making an enjoyable game for all ages that feels like an homage to a different era. With a great main character, solid platforming, and beautiful artwork, there's a lot to like.
Flyhunter Origins will be on PS Vita, PC and Mac, as well as iOS and Android, later this summer.