Putty Squad

 
Dated, clumsy platformer is more frustrating than fun.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Storytelling is entirely absent. Trap-laden environments -- occasionally with simplistic visual themes to do with Europe and the Middle East -- represent little more than a test of reflexes and pattern recognition. Reading any more into the nonsensical narrative and design would be guesswork.

Positive role models

The player's blue putty ball has no back story and doesn't talk. Its objective is simply to absorb red putty balls, collect stars, and survive each level's swarm of enemies. Its thoroughly fantastical behavior isn't something kids could realistically duplicate in the real world.

Ease of play

A lengthy and mandatory tutorial leads players through the basics. However, janky and unintuitive controls make jumps and other simple maneuvers more tricky than they ought to be, and will likely leave many kids frustrated. 

Violence

Cartoonish human and non-human characters use rockets, grenades, mortars, electrical finger-pokes, and other attacks to injure each other. Damage to the player's character is depicted by a loss of hearts at the top of the screen, and, in the case of electrocution, a zapping animation. Defeated enemies simply disappear in a puff of smoke.

Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A non-player character appears intoxicated. Another chews on a cigar.  

Privacy & safety

No privacy or safety concerns.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know Putty Squad is a platformer for PlayStation consoles with a cartoon aesthetic and a surprising amount of weapon-based violence. Enemies wield guns, shoot rockets, throw grenades, and try to electrocute the game's putty ball protagonist in an effort to keep him from accomplishing his primary objective of absorbing other putty balls. There's no deeper meaning to the action; the game is simply a test of reflexes without agenda, hidden or overt. Parents should be aware, though, that this game's unintuitive controls and poor design are bound to result in some frustration, especially among younger players.

What's it about?

PUTTY SQUAD for PlayStation systems is a remake of a 20-year-old side-scrolling platformer originally designed for the Amiga 1200. It stars Putty, a curious blue blob that has the ability to stretch itself to reach distant platforms and inflate into a balloon and float to higher ground. The primary "Marathon" mode is made up of dozens of quick levels the primary objective of which is to avoid a variety of weapon-wielding enemies and traps en route to finding and absorbing a handful of Putty's red globular pals. Bonus goals include tracking down floating stars and finding hidden areas. Once a level is completed kids can try it again in "Challenge" mode, which tasks players to meet specific criteria such as completing the level in a set amount of time, defeating all enemies of a certain type, or not consuming health items.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Putty Squad's bland and derivative presentation combines with frustratingly clunky mechanics to make it a difficult game to enjoy. Crammed with characters bereft of personality and generic audio effects that would have seemed passé even two decades ago, its nonsensical mash-up of googly-eyed putty balls, military hardware, and environments inspired by cultural clichés is difficult to endure. Worse, though, is navigating it all. Awkward and unintuitive inputs leave players fighting with their controllers as they attempt to perform the simplest of actions, including Putty's stretch moves and even his jumps. The controls get a bit more bearable with practice, but the hour or two it takes for them to become tolerable is something near torture.

Putty Squad is a window that provides a view to the medium of games as it existed nearly two decades ago, but instead of instilling any sense of nostalgic longing it simply makes the player appreciate how far interactive entertainment has come. Kids and their parents will quit the game keen to jump back to more modern fare.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how games have evolved over the years. Have you played any older games, like the original Super Mario Bros.? What did you think of it? Do you think games from 20 or 30 years ago are as much fun as games made today?

Game details

Platforms:PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
Price:$29.99
Pricing structure:Paid
Available online?Available online
Developer:Ocean Software
Release date:April 22, 2014
Genre:Action/Adventure
Topics:Magic and fantasy
ESRB rating:E10+ for Cartoon Violence, Crude Humor, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco (PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita)

This review of Putty Squad was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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