Gleefully Absurd is one thing. Strapping explosives on defenseless ferrets and tossing them at terrorists from the helicopter you’re currently dangling from, is quite another. There isn’t a strong enough word in the human vocabulary to properly label it. Such is the premise of Bungee Ferret Tossing (80 MSP), and with all the ways this could have gone, it’s surprisingly solid.
Essentially a side-scroller, you use the left and right triggers (pressure determines velocity) to launch bomb-laden critters in either direction while handling the helicopter (co-op hands the controls to your partner) and your cord length. You face waves of enemies with the goal of defeating all to move forward. The challenge scales with selectable difficulties; health normally regenerates after a set time of avoiding damage, while ‘Hardcore’ features limited life for both you and your chopper.
With your obvious air superiority, the ground targets make up for the discrepancy by clogging that airspace with bullets, missiles, the odd bird or two, and ninjas (?). Thankfully, the U.S. Government is up to the task, giving you a new form of ferret destruction with each new stage (timed, proximity, and cluster varieties). Occasional dropped powerups give you perks like invincibility or extra damage for short periods. It doesn’t have mind-blowing depth, but it gets the surrounding details right, with a pitch-perfect arcade ‘attract mode’ and a humorous send-up of current events and a certain media outlet at the story’s end. Those things aside, the game is all about scoring.
As a nice bonus, all of the game’s modes have their own individual leaderboard, but it requires a bit of participation on your part if you want to see your name in lights. Rather than hoping for someone else to be in-game the same time as you to swap information, you’ll get a code at the end of a playthrough, which you input here. The standings are a little sparse at the moment, and it’s not the easiest of routes to take, though it is a novel workaround to the peer-to-peer conundrum if you need instant feedback on your ferret-tossing skills.
Complimenting the short arcade mode (5 stages in total) are Survival and Time Attack settings. Survival plays exactly as you think it would, but Time Attack is the worthier acquaintance. You’re on a timed run, with the game dropping numbered cards to build your combo and score with each kill. It introduces a penalty system for failing to extend that streak or in getting hit, gradually resetting your combo back to zero. That added urgency and risk / reward factor propelled it past the main game, in terms of what I spent the most time with.
Some indies are comfortable with being the Dumb Summer Movie, filling your screen with a lot of flash and a ludicrous explanation for it. Bungee Ferret Tossing fills that role for the start of Autumn. It doesn’t clamor for your respect or stand for anything remotely serious, but as a time-waster for the high score seekers, it’s cheap fun.