The Game: Squids Wild West
The Device: iPhone 4
The Price: $.99 for iOS (Android and PC/Mac versions on the way)
The Basics: The sequel to last year’s hit game Squids (our review) is more of the same, but that’s definitely not a bad thing.
As in the first you control a team of anthropomorphic Squids in a turn-based adventure/rpg. Yanking on a squid’s tentacles sends them flinging in the opposite direction, slower or faster depending on how far you stretched them out. There are the same four classes that you can choose from- Scouts that can surge ahead with a boost, Shooters that pack pistols, Healers that, uh, heal, and Troopers that can stomp the ground. Most levels see you trying to get to a certain point on the map while avoiding obstacles like sea urchins and cliffs. Enemies abound and it’s important to distrust anything with a spine. The black ooze that’s been affecting the ocean seems to have driven all the crustaceans crazy, and they’ll fight you at every turn.
Wild West continues the story right from where the first left off, filling you in on the story right from the start. As you’d expect from the title the game focuses a bit on the Man With No Named-themed Squid Clint, who has a few skeletons in his closet and a guy named Cleef on his trail. You cleverly start with all the leveled-up Squids from the first game, with all of the hats that they would have unlocked. (Customization is always fun in a game but these hats permanently boost a squid’s stats, as well as make them look incredibly stylish.)
The Review: Since this is the West you’d expect there to be a few Mounts, and here’s the biggest addition to the game. The Squids ride searhorses that can be found in certain levels. Jump on them to quickly zoom around the level, as well as easily destroy some of the tougher armored foes that are untouchable otherwise.
Besides the different Mounts the game’s the exact same as the last, as there are no new classes and everything controls the same. The levels change up the gameplay a bit with new goals and such but there are no real surprises.
Since it’s set in an underwater Wild West there are unfortunately a few characters that might make you uncomfortable, like a headdress-wearing Native American squid that calls everyone else paleface, which doesn’t exactly make a lot of sense in the setting of the game. But hey, The Game Bakers are a French developer, so we’ll give the random stereotypes the benefit of ignorance. It’s a shame because the rest of the story is so well crafted.
The game’s really addictive, as well. As in the first title each level has three stars you can earn by completing it in various ways. Stars give you pearls, which can also be collected during the levels for performing tricky maneuvers and killing enemies. You have the option to buy more through in-app purchases but it really is completely optional here. You’re given so many pearls that only the most impatient will have to spend more than the cost of the app, unless of course you’d like to support the developer.
While the game is great on the iPhone, the iPad really is the way to go with this series. The beautiful graphics really pop on the bigger screen and it’s much easier to navigate each level’s hazards, a requirement in this installment which tends to be tougher than the last.
At half the price of the original it would be ridiculous to pass this great, original title up. It’s great to see this series going strong, although they’re going to need to change up the format a bit more to keep things exciting for the next one.
The Final Grade – B+