Sport & Auto
- About Future
- Digital Future
- Cookies Policy
- Terms & Conditions
- Investor Relations
- Contact Future
When historians inevitably attempt to make sense of this generation’s obsession with smartphones, they’re bound to be baffled by one ubiquitous trend: cutesy, physics-based, star-ranked puzzlers. Now that Angry Birds fruit snacks are being sold on the "impulse buy" rack at Walgreens, I think we can all agree that the strangely specific sub-genre has more or less jumped the shark, and anything released from this point on is retreading familiar territory.
This may be why I was initially pretty quick to dismiss Shark Dash, Gameloft’s recent foray into the “fling-adorable-animals-at-stuff” formula -- and a game in which you quite literally make sharks jump. In my defense, it follows the established template to a capital T -- propel your saucer-eyed hero over, across, and into various obstacles to defeat a goofy gang of slack-jawed baddies -- but this little app packs in enough novelty that it still manages to feel fresh after several hours of play.
By tapping their tails and dragging across the touchscreen, you’ll send a cast of rubber sharks speeding across various bathtub-themed stages to chomp at a band of devious toy duckies. An ever-growing assortment of obstacles calls for plenty of trial-and-error (emphasis on the "error"), from underwater wind tunnels to momentum-demanding portals, and new elements are steadily introduced as the game goes on. A few of the sharks have unique abilities -- hammerhead Hammy can dive-bomb either up or down after being flung, where sawnose Sawy can cut items free with his sharpened snout -- and several stages necessitate teamwork between two (or more) sharks at a time.
Like many physics-based puzzlers, the degree of precision that’s required can quickly become frustrating (especially considering that the “undo previous move” button is an extension of Shark Dash’s in-app purchase features), with both obstacles and sharks often ending up in less-than-ideal areas after seemingly suitable gestures. Still, keep the "restart stage" button at the ready and you’re bound to have a blast with this adorable and surprisingly complex puzzler.
The bottom line. Shark Dash does enough new to set it apart from its cutesy counterparts, even with its occasional physics-based frustrations.
iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 4.0 or later
Cute visuals and charming presentation. Impressive amount of unique puzzle elements. Plenty of levels included.
Physics can be frustrating at times. A few under-explained puzzle obstacles.