There’s a new hero in town…and this one comes with long grabby arms and three hearts. But does Squid Hero for Kinect warrant a purchase or is it just another one of those motion controlled titles that you’ll play for five minutes before settling back down with a proper game that utilises a standard controller?
If truth be known, I’ve been a bit taken aback by Squid Hero.
From the outside looking in, I expected nothing more than a half hearted motion controlled game that would appeal to kids but annoy the hell out of anyone who considers themselves a proper gamer. I’m glad to report that couldn’t be further from the truth though.
After seeing his jetpack run out of fuel (yep, alien jetpack wearing squids are all the rage at the moment), sending him plummeting to Earth and crashing into the South Pole, the squid you play as sets out to destroy as many glaciers as he can, repairing the damage he did to Earth and helping stop it fall into an Ice Age era in the process.
The gameplay itself centres around two main talking points; that of grabbing numerous coloured ice blocks and smashing them together in order to save the world and the odd turbo dodge section that breaks up the ice breaking monotony. All set across reimaginings of the Caribbean, some musty sewers, the Grand Canyon, throughout the rivers of Europe and across Canada; the visuals work well although levels can become both repetitive and similar. The real star of the show though is our squid friend and he has been created with a great deal of love and attention. Something which becomes apparent throughout.
Now, I’m not for one minute going to sit here and pretend that Squid Hero for Kinect is the most accomplished game on the market but for a small two man team, it’s a pretty lovely attempt.
A constant vertical scroller, it isn’t a difficult game but there are times when you’ll need to repeat areas numerous times in order to help save the world. Checkpoints are however well placed, meaning that no matter how difficult a section gets, try enough times to get through and you’ll eventually do so. If you find yourself really struggling though, once you’ve failed a section three times, a helpful skip button comes to your rescue although strangely this can be used multiple times…even all the way through to the games end.
With the chance to pick up numerous coins in order to equip your squid with a plentitude of crazily styled head gear, there is at least something to make you want to venture through the levels a second or third time, although on the whole, you’ll probably just be more interested in battling through in order to save Earth from the Robo-Crab, Robo-Croc and Robo Toad end of level bosses.
But Kinect titles live or die on the precision of the technology and for the most part, what you ask your Squid to do, works out well. You may struggle to get to grips with the controls, trying to step forward to help move him up the screen was initially a bit of a bugbear, whereas in fact you need to pull yourself up with the help of Squidys arms, but it all soon becomes second nature and it won’t take long before you find yourself grabbing ice blocks with ease and dodging obstacles or mines ever easier.
Unfortunately the same can’t be said when taking to the stages with a second person, for there are one too many issues present; mostly centred around the overlapping of flailing arms and movement of bodies. I’ve played near on all the Kinect titles that are currently available on Xbox One with varying degrees of success, but the real selling point is whether or not you can play the game with a friend. Well, unless you have a room the size of a small castle, then Squid Hero struggles.
The two player co-op mode that is on offer is sadly a bit of a nightmare. I’ve been playing Squid Hero in the same room that has comfortably taken three or four players at the same time in dance titles and worked perfectly with two souls tearing up Fantasia in Music Evolved, so the issues with more than one player in Squid Hero are strange. Perhaps it’s the fact that tight precision is needed to grab the ice blocks, but on anything more than a dodging stage, pop-up prompts ensure that game time is disrupted every few seconds. There are only so many times players can be requested to move backwards, forwards, left or right before giving up on the multiplayer and heading back in as a solo player.
Which is a shame, because if the single player mode translated well onto the multiplayer side, then Squid Hero would be the ultimate pick up and play title, especially for the youngsters.
Squid Hero for Kinect is more than worth a look if you are after a new Kinect title. Your arms will ache at the end of it, but once you understand the movement needed in order to succeed, will find a joyous little game that is well worth a few days play. After initially expecting a bit of real humour to be injected into Squid Hero, the fun only really comes about from smashing and dodging your way to glory…even the 16 unlockable hats that you can adorn Mr Squid with are more novelty items than talking points.
You won’t be blown away, but for the most part, you’ll enjoy what you do. In fact, our little Squid Hero is really rather charming!
So much so, that if you’re looking for a decent family friendly game that will keep you busy for a few evenings and ensure that you get to use your Kinect system, then by all means check Squid Hero for Kinect out.