Squids Wild West Review: A New Frontier
Written by Ryan Johnson (RyanDJ) Wednesday, 04 July 2012 08:19
A fun diversion that stretches your mind further than most iOs games, and is much deeper than you think when you first load it up.
I only recently joined the Smartphone Generation. I held off for a long time, primarily due to the price of the plans. Unfortunately, these days very few companies have plans that cater outside of smartphones, and we have Netflix, so we figured on joining the bandwagon. I've honestly been skeptical of the whole 99 cent gaming generation: sure, Rovio convinced me to try Angry Birds on my PSP (which ended up being more expensive over there), but the whole "lite" gameplay didn't feel like it would mesh with a hardcore gamer, into deep storylines and intricate, multi-button gameplay. And in the background, I'm scared of what I might get into after buying ten games at 99 cents apiece on some lazy weekend multiplied by a year or so. I could make myself broke on cheap games.
The Game Bakers may have changed my opinion on the matter. They provided a review code to GoozerNation for Squids Wild West. A sequel to the original Squids that I have yet to play, SWW is a colorful romp through an underwater Western world made up of beautiful seascapes and discarded pieces of the human world. It is so neat to see a Western town, only to look deeper and find that the bank is made out of an old bed set, the saloon is a barrel, and the clock tower is from someone's bedside table. I applaud the artistic creativity in this title.
My experience with iOs game storyline has always been on the level of "the pigs stole the eggs, go get them back," but SWW lured me in by giving me what I desired: reason for the game's existance. The squids find themselves traveling to the cowboy squid Clint's hometown of Seawood to continue the previous game's quest of destroying the evil set upon the land. Enough story is given to get you caught up, yet also make you want to play the first if this is your first foray into the Squids' universe to see where it began. It was a wonderful suprise not only to have a story worth following, but engagingly fun characters and fun plays on other game titles such as "Red Squid's Redemption." Not to keep going back to it, but I am amazed at how big Angry Birds has really gotten. I mean, there's characters as memorable as "Red Bird" and "Yellow Bird", and they're getting their own theme park, when there are games like this that could fill a theme park much easier. This game has heart behind the creative process: I can tell it's made by people who care about games.
But enough about the art, let's talk gameplay! Squids Wild West is (from what I research) nearly identical in game play to the original, in an "if it's not broke, don't fix it" kind of way. Some new power ups, characters, and such are added, but this is truly a storyline continuation from the previous title. A mixup of the Angry Birds flinging with Final Fantasy Tactics Lite, SWW tasks you with completing various objectives to finish levels, from defeating all enemies to reaching particular points or rescuing new allies. This is accomplished via flinging your squid at the enemies for "head" on attacks, or using the special powers of the classes: the shooter will...well, shoot, the healer, whose headbutts rejuvinate the others, the scout, who's extra oomph lets you see further ahead, and the trooper, the tank of the crew who can slam the ground for extra damage to the enemies. The game gets more in depth when you realize that the characters can wear hats to boost power, and use the pearls they find to level up. You can also swap out squids to take your custom crew into battle: just remember to stay balanced. Healers can't attack very well, but the trooper can't stay alive long no matter his health if he's constantly in the fray without someone rejuvinating him. These extra tactics pushed the game beyond a "pick up and play" to me. Angry Birds may have the ADD style "I'm bored, and need something for 30 seconds to entertain me" crowd, but Squids is made for thinkers. I may even have to add traditional real-world pool to the mix of AB and FFT, as you recieve bonus points for bouncing off of others, walls, etc., as well as deal extra damage by taking advantage of the environmental hazards present in the land.
Overall, I've been pleasantly suprised with Squids Wild West. A fun diversion worthy of a real gamer, I would personally suggest the Game Bakers consider porting this and some of the other titles they have over to Xbox Live Arcade for Kinect or as a download for the PS Move system or WiiWare. It definitely has the storyline needed to make it feel worthy in those arenas. It has changed my idea of what a 99 cent game can be. I am looking forward to future updates, and how the story continues for the Squids as they make their way through the Wild West.