SQUIDS Wild West
Saddle up in The Game Bakers' squid-filled adventure.
The Wild West conjures thoughts of extreme heat, dust and grimy cowboys, three things we normally don't associate with the ocean. Mixing the two is potentially risky, and we're glad The Game Bakers chose to do so in the studio's newest iPhone and iPad adventure, Squids Wild West, the light-hearted and pretty sequel to the original iOS breakout hit, Squids. What ensues is more of the same, but with a larger selection of characters, stat-boosting helmets and brand-new stages, lovingly crafted with some of the best 2D artwork you'll find on a smartphone and tablet.
Squids Wild West picks up right where the prequel left off, so it's best to play the original to avoid spoilers. That said, the Squids square off against the dangerous Black Ooze in the hope of locating their friend Winnick; we suppose restoring order of some sort also factors into the equation.
On that note, the game is more of a turn-based RPG, as you build a team of four Squids from more than 12 characters, paying close attention to forming a squad comprised of four different classes, each of which possess unique abilities. Scouts, for example, dash across the maps. Troopers, meanwhile, deliver an enemy-busting ground pound. Healers boost other Squids' health, and finally, Shooters unleash ranged attacks.
With this in mind, it's important to know which Squids do what, largely because you can only move them a certain number of times per turn (using a slingshot style mechanic, no less), whereupon which the bad guys (crabs and other bothersome critters) return the favor. Whether you want to go all out and attack everything (be sure to use the exploding lobsters) or create a more a balanced strategy that includes meeting objectives as quickly as possible is entirely up to you. In addition, the game's virtual currency, pearls, lets you purchase a variety of helmets that, when worn, imbue the Squids with valuable stat boosts.
While on the subject of pearls, yes, the game features in-app purchases to buy more, but this was done in such a way to avoid becoming a requirement to progress to the next stage. Instead, you're free to play while amassing plenty of loot, and if you choose to go with IAP, the developers were generous in supplying bundles that include not only pearls, but also a mix of power-ups as well.
Beyond that, we have to tip our cowboy hats at The Game Bakers for Squids Wild West's graphics. They did such an excellent job imbuing the heroes with personality while creating a gorgeous world for them to explore, pulling art from the Old West and merging it with cool undersea scenery; everything has a nice summery feel. Even the title screen that features parallax scrolling is cool. A nice touch, indeed.
So yes, Squids Wild West is more of the same, but considering how much we enjoyed the first title, this is without question a good thing. At $0.99, it'll keep you happy for a long time to come, and makes for a great companion while on vacation at some tropical paradise.
Review code provided by The Game Bakers.
What's Hot: Cute Squids (never thought we'd say that), plenty of tricky turn-based missions, over 12 characters, four different classes, beautiful artwork, IAP doesn't dominate the experience.
What's Not: Little innovation over the original Squids, but that's a minor complaint.