Some people (many, in fact) tend to call Modern Warfare 2 and it's ilk "hardcore games". People, be vary - MW2 is properly hardcore only on Veteran. "Rated M for Mature" does not equal "hardcore game" in any concieveable way. You want proof?
Platypus is a claymation shoot-em-up (yes, you heard me - a claymation video game). It was named after a semi-aquatic, egg-laying mammal of action for no discernable reason. It was made by Squashy Software - and by that i mean one guy, Anthony Flack. It was released in 2002, re-released all over the world quite a lot, and ported to several mobile platforms - most notable are Iphone and PSP versions. As you can clearly see, it is rated "E for Everyone". But do not let it's looks decieve you -
IT'S REALLY,REALLY,REALLY HARD.
Platypus is hardcore. Truly hardcore. Offensively hardcore. Kick-you-in-the-groin-hardcore. Maybe not quite I Wanna Be The Guy-hardcore, but hardcore nontheless. The game is literally jam-packed with enemies, and by "jam-packed" i mean "overpopulated to the point of unbeliveable absurdity". It's actually a plot point - Colossoastropolis' citizens want to take over entire planet because their city suffers from critical overpopulation. This game has it all, from humble gray saucers dying in one hit, to swarms of cruise missiles, to blimps and gunships able to take 20-30 shots from your main cannon, to bosses, who are absolutely ENORMOUS. And you know the best part?
The best part is that your fighter is a one hitpoint wonder. Any contact with enemies or their shots will kill you, period. You think it's not too bad? Consider that there are 15+ enemies on screen almost all the time, they move in hardly predictable patterns, some of them won't die in one hit, and most of them shoot at you all the time. The game devolves into a frantic clusterfuck fairly quickly. Sure, you have 4 spare lives, and you get an extra one each 5000 points. But when you lose them all, you also lose your score, and have to rack it up all over again. You have 3 "Continues" in case you expend all your lives, but you only get 2 extra ones at the end of each level. So you can say this game is fairly unforgiving. And by "unforgiving" i mean "it shoves a bundle of dynamite up your arsenal, then lits the fuse".
Now, a detour on the matter of level structure. Game has 5 levels, each of them has 5 areas. After clearing each area, you can get bonus points to your score based on how much enemies you shot down - up to 15000 for shooting down every single one. Main targets - aforementioned blimps and gunships - are worth more points, but naturally, they are also harder to destroy. You may have thought 30 seconds ago - "15000 points?! That's 3 extra lives!" But unfortunately, you are wrong. You can only get 1 extra life at the area end, no matter how much enemies you kill. And in the fifth zone of each level, there is huge armored boss bristling with guns - road train in Level 1, flying fortress in Level 2, do not know about the other three.
Another problem is your main cannon. It's not automatic, which means you have to mash your Spacebar key like crazy if you want to get a decent rate of fire. But - and here are the good news - there are better weapons. By destroying formations of enemies painted in orange, you can get a weapon star. You can shoot it to change weapon, then pick it up and get 20 seconds of much better firepower. And if you pick up another one, time always stacks. You can get following weapons: Spread cannon - yellow color, provides two extra volleys of fire at 45 degrees up and down from the main one. Machine cannon - blue color, fires uninterrupted barrage of shots. Very effective. Pulse cannon - green color, fires an outward wave able to destroy enemy projectiles. But maximal rate of fire is just pathetic. Rockets - red color, deal out more damage. And to top it off, Lightning gun - teal color, and i don't know how it works because i didn't reach it yet. Sue me.
If you desperately need more and more dakka, you can play with a friend on the same screen. This doubles the firepower, plus you can take on two targets at once - but he'll use up one of "Continues" when entering, and you'll have to share weapon drops and bonus points. Of another note is the game's soundtrack - it consists of various Commodore 64 game tunes' remixes, and is mindblowingly awesome.
You may now think i'm bashing the game. No i am not. It's not in any way bad - quite the opposite. It's just challenging beyond any reasonable measure. So challenging, in fact, that your head will be on fire and in dire need of extinguisher after completing a first level. But that is the point - it feels like a real achievement.
Recommendation: If you got intrested, you could borrow or rent it. If you are craving for real challenge, go buy it right now. If you are a masochist, then what are you waiting for?
squashysoftware.com, for those who are intrested. You could leave a comment or two for me if you are feeling generous.
Oh, and this is my first review.