An Hour With… Shelter Dev’s The Blue Flamingo

Jazz Shipman

Surprise! Badger-lovers Might & Delight, they of the lovely/heartbreaking Shelter, just put out a new game. And, er, it’s a shmup. But it’s OK: The Blue Flamingo is a shmup with a lounge music soundtrack and hand-crafted models. 32 feet worth of handcrafted model, specifically, which was then photographed and imported into the game. Even the explosion effects come from filming fireworks.

Quick impressions plus some footage below, jazz-chums.

It’s very much a shmup, and not, in my brief experience with it, a skyscraping one in any regard other than its aesthetics. It’s a scoreboard jobbie, in which you survive as long as you can in pretty but repetitious levels, then see where you end up ranked in the world or against your friends. I was temporarily #8 in the world, which means only one thing: not a lot of people playing it yet. In other words, it’s ripe for the picking for any scorefiends reading this.

I love the way it looks. The etsy-does-the-Rocketeer models look intricate, characterful and tangible in a way that your average shooty-spaceship most certainly does not, and the backdrops paint a charming otherworld of gleaming steel and Mos Eisley desert-life. The lounge jazz soundtrack is a delight too, though it’s sadly drowned out by the ratatat and boom-boom-boom of the shooting – the first thing you should do is head into settings and drop the SFX volume by at least 30%.

The shooting wore a bit thin fast, sadly. Perhaps there are mightier, more delightful upgrades further down the line, but so far it’s been incremental gun/bomb power increases, and these resetting all the way back to their base level whenever you die isn’t really for me. That there’s no way I’ve found as yet to restore health made it a bit grim for me too.

This was where Luftrausers – to which The Blue Flamingo’s straight-to-the-point and stylised nature very much bear some comparison – really found its heart: you got to try new and very different stuff out often and immediately. It took a long time before you felt as though you were repeating yourself Again though, The Blue Flamingo is a score attack shmup, not an indulgence shmup. It’s not really aimed at me, though I really wish it does – the concept of the old DOS freeware shmups I used to play solo given such surprising and winning aesthetics is deeply appealing.

I guess what I’d like is a less competitive mode with plenty of lives, leaving me relatively free to soak up the wonderful look and sound of the thing. It’s just a nice place to be, and for me it’s a shame that’s undermined by the scoreboard-is-god ethos.

It’s kind of treat if you go in with no expectations other than prettiness, and while £4 barely gets you a pint of foaming ale round these parts, its very straightforward nature has me thinking it could stand to be a wee bit cheaper still, as it could fit right into the ‘impulse purchase’ category.

That’s an awful thing to say, I realise.

I am an awful man.

I do like shooting things to a jazzy soundtrack, though.

The Blue Flamingo is out now.

7 Comments

  1. padger says:

    Ha, the video is great. (And probably more interesting than the game that followed it…)

  2. Synesthesia says:

    That is some seriously good art direction. I can’t wait till we get a revival of hand made environments.

  3. phelix says:

    I’m not sure if you’ve actually ever listened to jazz, but the soundtrack is bluegrass sans banjo. Different genre entirely.

    (I am totally not an mildly offended snob)

    • Bassen_Hjertelos says:

      You, sir, are wrong. It is a hybrid of genres. Calling this bluegrass sans banjo is the same as calling Opeth classical metal sans galloping bass.

  4. KDR_11k says:

    The gameplay scenes look a bit like Raptor. The main draw in Raptor was upgrading your fighter to silly levels and blasting everything in sight, the twitch action wasn’t really that amazing.

  5. Superpat says:

    Damn thats pretty! Hope to see more stuff like this, except maybe with a meatier game game wrapped around it :P

  6. Darth Grabass says:

    Xevious flashbacks. It looks cool. I was somewhat disappointed by Shelter, but I’ll give this a shot.