Review by asherdeus

Reviewed: 09/17/07

The most popular whale in the world splashes onto the DS.

When it comes to aquatic animals, Shamu is probably one of the most renowned. There isn’t a single Shamu, though. Deceptive as it may seem, Shamu is simply a stage name used for a few performing whales at SeaWorld parks in the United States and the many Shamus are by far the most popular attractions at SeaWorld’s parks. The unique water stunts the orcas perform on a daily basis drive thousands of gawkers and sightseers to queue through turnstiles to see the spectacle that is a 6-ton beast belly flopping in a swimming pool. Naturally, the good people at SeaWorld sought to capitalize on the continued success of their black-and-white icon by digitizing the whale and releasing Shamu’s Deep Sea Adventure on a variety of consoles. While the real-world Shamu captures the hearts of young and old alike, the young and the old will be too disinterested in this poor action-adventure game to ever enjoy it as much as they enjoy that beautiful whale.

The game puts players into the control of Shamu, who is first introduced while he is swimming in his pool performing tricks for the crowd. This serves as a quick and mostly painless tutorial introducing you to how the game is played. With the stylus, you navigate Shamu through a 2D aquatic environment. By pressing on the touch-screen, a small circle comes up that acts essentially like an analog stick and, depending on how far you move the stylus from the circle, the faster Shamu swims in that direction. To execute Shamu’s arsenal of moves, you simply press a direction on the D-Pad. It’s a little tricky to get used to at first and despite the fact that I think it’s a really good idea; it’s poorly implemented thanks to some collision detection issues.

Of course, this is a video game, so nothing can ever be simply fine and dandy. This game is boring enough as it is without simply spending your days as Shamu entertaining crowds. During your show (after you’ve learned all your moves, of course), a giant Octopus controlled by the God of the Sea, Poseidon, rips through the bottom of Shamu’s pool in search for lost tablets of Atlantis (lost tablets which happen to be in SeaWorld, of all places). During the attack, the tablets are scattered into the sea. Shamu must swim his way through vast underwater levels and defeat the fearsome Kraken if he wants to stop Poseidon from taking over the world.

Presumably, if the Lord Poseidon were to want to enslave all of humanity and create some sort of underwater utopia for himself, he would unleash more fearsome foes than the ones he’s dispatched in this adventure. You’ll come across some fast moving fish, electric eels, sea urchins, and even pufferfish (which come complete with imposing spikes). Yet, the biggest challenge in defeating these enemies comes from the control issues and not the foes themselves. Lining up an attack seems simple enough, but shoddy collision detection means that you’ll often miss with your attack and wind up in their way. Fortunately, the health system is a lot like the health system in Sonic the Hedgehog. You collect gems and when you’re hit, they fall out. If you run out, you’re dead, but that’s extremely rare.

Along the way, you’ll have to solve a series of simple puzzles and time challenges, but these are rarely a challenge, either. Honestly, and I hate to say this because it’s so abysmally cliché, but the biggest challenge I had was dealing with my own desire to stop playing. There’s nothing remotely interesting in the game and that opinion has nothing to do with my age. It isn’t really challenging, there’s no story at all, and even the “impressive” moments of the game, like battling the Kraken and the final confrontation with Poseidon, are just repetitive battles that lack any challenge or excitement.

Each level degrades into a set pattern of flipping a witch, pulling a rock, finding a tablet, and then reaching the finish. Repeat ten times until victory is yours, or spare yourself and play something better. Yes, the game does have some good things going for it. It is bright and colorful and the graphics actually surprised me, especially the animations. And there is even a bunch of unloackable art work and hidden items in the very spacious levels. But at the end of the day, Shamu’s Deep Sea Adventure is anything but – it’s just a really, really shallow game with not a whole lot going on with it.

Rating: 3

Product Release: Sea World: Shamu's Deep Sea Adventures (US, 11/08/05)

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