Capybara Games has provided me with a review copy of their first foray into the Playstation Network’s waters. A port of the original iPhone/iPod Touch release with some more content, how does this version of Critter Crunch stack up?
First off, when you boot the game you’re welcomed by Capybara’s “mascot” (so to speak) for the game: Biggs. The loveable little “critter” smiles and winks at you. Beckoning you to press start to continue into the game, or wait for the demo reel to start to show you gameplay footage. On the first boot-up, you are locked out from most of the game modes, besides “adventure mode,” for single-player.
Local and Online co-op and versus play, however, are unlocked from the get-go…
To continue on, the singleplayer “adventure” mode is your standard story mode for puzzle games. Upon starting it up, you are welcomed to a wonderfully hand-drawn 2D art cutscene explaining a few things about what the Biggsliocaucus, or “Biggs” for short, creatures do “every Spring. The male Biggs going out to eat the Crittacocephalus, or “Critters” as they are known. Their sons accompanying them to see how they’re fathers are efficient to the Critter’s eco-system while bringing food home to his family on the other side of the island.”
After that cutscene, you are on a map letting you choose (as you unlock more of them) spots to go to to find more puzzles. Starting off with the tutorial and going from there.
Gameplay-wise, the game is a basic “match three” puzzler, with a twist. You feed “two smaller critters to one bigger critter” to “make them pop.” It’s an interesting mechanic and as you ‘pop more critters” you start to fill up a “hunger gauge.” Your goal, at least in this mode is to fill up the Hunger Bar to beat the level.
Sounds easy, right? Well the game’s tutorial level even explains the challenge. You must do this while the game continues to bring more critters into the lines of the gameplay table. If a critter reaches Biggs/passes the line… like Tetris, the game will be over.
The gameplay mechanics are easy enough that even kids should be able to pick-up and enjoy Critter Crunch on the first go, with maybe with a little explanation/help from the parents for kids the age of five to eight.
There is a “food chain” mechanic where popping a critter near similar other critters will also make them pop. This seems to be a strategic advantage in having the board clear without the player being overwhelmed.
“Food chains” seem to also happen when you feed one smaller critter to a bigger critter and have that “full” bigger critter be fed to an even bigger critter. Good for speedy clearing of the board.
Like Tetris and other puzzle games, there is a “quick drop” option for Critter Crunch. Unlike those games, this “speeds the next line up” in dropping so you can pop more critters. This is achieved with the D-pad down button.
Also, funny enough your “Son, Smalls” will show up when you chain an 8-Critter pop-combo (for lack of better words). You then have the ability to “feed” your son by “barfing into his mouth” with rainbow barf. Yes, you read that right. You feed your child with rainbow barf. Unfortunately, you have to be quick about doing this, as “Smalls is impatient, so be quick about it” as the aptly named “Barfing Tutorial” mentions. Thankfully, so long as Biggs mouth is empty of Critters, you can simply go over to Smalls and press the circle button on your Dual-Shock 3 to barf/feed your son.
The twist to feeding your son is that if you do it quickly enough and “fill him up on his first visit” you will max your points out. The catch is, that by feeding your son, the critters will also drop faster as they are “attracted to the barf.”
Feeding Smalls on his first visit also means that you don’t need to have him appear again to feed him (to reach his max) again. You won’t have to feed him again for that level once he reaches his max. If he doesn’t reach his max, you can simply call him back out by gaining another 8-pop-chain.
Achievement wise: The game has two online achievements (Play and win a versus mode match, and reach level 5 in versus mode), with the rest being singleplayer. The achievements seem easy to do, in theory but in practice some of them (like “World Greatest Dad”) will be hard to master.
To move into the multiplayer: The ranked multiplayer matches are like Tetris. You match Critters to pop them to gain power-ups to screw over your opponents. Simple, but the game becomes fast and furious between both players to fill the other players play field to the point of winning. (Though, there is a hunger meter in the two player mode, maybe another way to win is by filling that up quickly. I can’t say at the time of writing.)
Graphically, the game is very pretty with hand-drawn art. I would wager to say that I think Capybara’s art-department needs a pay-raise. At 1080p (though an HDMI cable is required to reach this resolution) the game is gorgeous with the hand-drawn art. Biggs is charming in animation and the game reeks of cuteness.
Overall, the game is a nice addition to the PSN library and if you enjoy puzzle games it is easily worth the $7USD (at the time of writing) to buy. Unfortunately, I have to mention there is no color-blind option (though talking to Capybara, they are “thinking about patching it into the PS3 version”), so if you are color-blind you may have a little trouble with the game (since there are some Critters that are similar in color to other Critters).
If you aren’t completely satisfied with just the game, they are also offering some cute T-shirts at this link. Very cute T-shirts with a catchy “hey, what’s the game your advertising?” twist.
I want to thank Capybara Games for giving me the opportunity to review their game.