The Game: Squids
The Device: iPad
The Price: $1.99 for iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad (Android and PC/Mac versions on the way)
The Basics: A cartoony adventure game about cephalopods whose underwater kingdom is under attack from a mysterious black ooze! Formerly tame crustaceans have been covered in the goop and suddenly taken issue with their squishy sea-brethren. You control one of a group of squids who are trying to save their community from this new menace and figure out just who is behind it.
The Review: Squids was released for the iPhone but has recently been upgraded to HD graphics so iPad users can get the full experience, and it really is a pretty game. The backgrounds in particular are truly beautiful, and the main characters are nicely animated.
The game itself is fairly simple, a turn-based strategy game of sorts mashed up with an action title. You’ll control a team of four squids one at a time. Touch the squid whose turn it is and slide your finger on the screen away from it and you’ll yank its tentacles to the stretching point- let go and he or she will go shooting in the opposite direction. To attack enemies you slam into them at high speeds, but there are lots of obstacles in the environment that you’ll want to avoid- chasms, sea urchins, underwater currents, etc, that require a little more finesse. The touch controls work perfectly and if you end up shooting a squid to its death you’ll know that it’s your own fault, not the game’s.
There are eight different heroes that come in four different classes. You can mix and match your team of four squids any way you like to get all the abilities you need for each level. Here are the four classes-
Scouts- Tap a Scout after you’ve shot him off and you’ll give him another burst of speed. These guys are essential for clearing the levels quickly, and by tapping rapidly you can shoot forward multiple times in a row, which can easily take out the stronger enemies you’ll face and net you a ton of pearls, the game’s form of currency.
Trooper- Big heavies who can’t move too quickly, they make up for it with their incredibly strong stomp attack. Tapping a Trooper to unleash his special attack makes him jump in the air (water?) and smash down, sending any nearby enemies flying away, and hopefully off cliffs to their deaths.
Shooter- Shooters pack guns, all the better for blowing away their enemies at long range. You’ll want to stay away from packs of enemies because they have horrible defense and can easily be wiped out.
Healer- Healers do just that. The only way to heal your squids besides sliding over pickups strewn throughout the level, you can smash her into another squid to heal it, or vice versa. They’re actually pretty strong and can take a bit of a beating, making them a great support class.
With a shooter named Clint and a sumo wrestler trooper named Sammo, you can see the game’s pretty tongue-in-cheek. The story is told between levels through little cutscenes and are frequently funny, even if you won’t exactly get swept up in the story. But it’s a nice change of pace from most mobile games whose story seems an afterthought.
Unfortunately the game’s 21 levels can be beaten in two or three hours, with a final boss battle that leaves room for a lot more. (There are also two bonus levels, one which is playable in 3D with red/blue glasses) After you beat it you’ll likely want to go back and replay the levels to get all the stars for each level and achievements, especially since the game’s so much fun. The stars encourage you to try to beat it in different ways- you can find a hidden star in each level, get another for having all Squids survive, and the last for beating the level in a set number of turns. You’ll definitely want to keep playing this one after you’ve beaten it.
An incredibly well-polished and addictive game, one I hope we see more of in the future.
The Final Grade – B+