Puffins: Let's Fish
20th July 2010; By KnucklesSonic8
The waters are just full of fish that are ready to eat. But rather than take a boat out onto the lake, why not just head straight to the source for an easy meal? Players will guide their puffin through a series of underwater mazes by using the stylus. Your goal is to collect as many of the yellow Capelin as possible. Stay away from the small amounts of red Capelin - they're not deadly, but they don't digest well. You'll also need to watch out for predators that are also patrolling the area with the same objective in mind. Before you get the idea that this is a great opportunity to build your teamwork skills, the only fish they have their sights set on is you!
The AI has a decent level of intelligence. Because of this, you'll need to think up ways to try to outsmart them. There are three types of enemies that will try to attack you: orca whales, sharks, and jellyfish. Thankfully they put up somewhat of fight so they do make things a tad challenging, especially in later stages when they start to follow you more closely. They may randomly change direction multiple times, and even appear to have a small spasm, which looks weird. The character models for these enemies look decent, except for the jellyfish, which not only look unappealing, but they also make a strange sound when they make contact with you.
Occasionally, power-ups will appear around the corners of a map to give you an advantage. Don't expect any flashing pellets that will let you eat sharks, though. What exists, though, is a speed-up item that will allow you to travel at a faster speed, and a not-so-floaty buoy that will grant you temporary invincibility. Don't get cocky and pass through predators without caution, because you won't get any warning when the effect is about to wear off.
All of the levels are viewed from a higher vantage point, up above. Each level is presented with a suitable style that feels very appropriate. In the background, you'll observe large rock masses that form the shape of the level, as well as environmental elements such as pieces of seaweed and coral. There's a small sense of variety in the kinds of fields you'll find yourself in, whether it be amongst glaciers, in a shipyard, or in a coral reef. Although you might expect otherwise, there's pretty much only one song used for all of these stages. They sound fitting and they remind me of the Maritime provinces in Canada, however the music can grow weary after some time.
When you're not too consumed with looking at what's in front of you, take a look at the top screen for an overall look at the entire stage. Your position is represented with a large red marker, while your carnivorous friends are shown in blue dots. The only thing that the map won't show you is whether or not any power-ups are currently on the playing field. Looking above with a quick glance periodically (or even focusing on this area) can be very helpful to give you the overall picture of what to expect.
As soon as I started playing this game, I thought to myself: Pacman for kids. And that's not a bad thing. There's definitely a pick-up-and-play appeal to this release. In addition to the standard game (labelled 'Dive Fishing'), there's also a secondary mode called 'Quick Catch'. Here, you try to survive a set number of minutes as you chase after prey that's constantly-moving. You also have a health gauge on the left that can be increased with each point you get. This mode has a different music track but because it loops quickly, it's even more annoying than the normal one. Both modes have medal requirements designated for each individual stage. Many of the Gold Medals for the normal mode are pretty easy to acquire with some determination. It's a different story in Quick Catch where you'll have to tend with the issue of boredom, as you may be required to play for more than 4 minutes.
But as a whole, Puffins: Let's Fish is a fun game for kids to play. The arcade approach can be almost addicting to play in quick bursts. While there are other DSiWare games out there that you should definitely introduce to your children first, this is one you can still feel safe about considering.
20/30 - Okay/Average
Gameplay 7/10 - Takes inspirations from Pacman, underwater mazes seen from up above, two power-ups, avoid different kinds of enemies
Presentation 6/10 - Good layout, top screen shows an overview of the map, level visuals have a bit of variety to them, music gets very annoying
Enjoyment 3/5 - Kids will likely find this to be fun, not meant to be played over long sessions as it can become dull
Extra Content 4/5 - A good number of levels, medals to aim for that don't really do anything, bonus Quick Catch mode, not bad at all for $5
Equivalent to a score of 67% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)