|System: Wii, PS2, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Atomic Planet||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Destination Soft.||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan. 3, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
To complete the game, you have to unlock and use all six creatures. The creatures are discovered through the excavation of fossils. You have to locate every single bone, and when you do, the creature comes to virtual life. Fossils can be found or earned through special mini-game style challenges. Each creature has a special ability which is exploited through a series of objectives. One creature can jump, while another is able to dig. One has the strength to break through hard surfaces such as rock and coral, while yet another is able to sneak up on friends, foes, and food. You will need to use some of these sea monsters to assist you in the challenges. Use the stealth creature to eat a ton of fish or use the powerful one to smash through rocks and uncover more fossils.
Graphically the underwater environment is void of any landmarks or distinctive features that would let you know where the hell you are. Some sort of compass or onscreen radar would be a good idea. There is a central hub area which has various challenges branching from it, but it's really hard to find your way back to it. It's not that the ocean is so huge, it's just that the scenery is so repetitive you don't know if you've already been there or done that. Navigating your sea creature through the environment is a lesson in tedium. There are few challenges in the ocean except for keeping your bearings. And even if you can see where you are supposed to go, these damn lumbering beasts are so friggin' slow you'll run the risk of being extinct before you reach the other end of the screen. It takes so friggin' long to get anywhere that it's like the equivalent of accessing the internet with your cell phone.
I can't fault the controls or the mechanics. As slow as creatures are and as shallow as the gameplay is, from a technical standpoint the game is decent. However, there are some awful framerate issues which cause the game to bog down to a frustratingly slow pace. Turning the creature around is a slow process, but one that's not surprising given the general pace of the game. The D-pad and the stylus are used to control the direction of the beasts. You can have them swim in virtually any 3D direction including reverse. Using the touch screen you can look around and adjust the camera angle. Food can be locked-on, and a double tap will let you charge at your food or at a predator.
The character models look convincing, and they even animate well, albeit slowly. The underwater environment is dull and repetitive. There is only the single-player mode, so after you uncover all of the fossils, if you dare make it that far, there's nothing left for replay value. The score has some merit although it too is repetitive and is more ambient than melodic. The tunes are as dark and murky as a tar pit. There certainly isn't much to uplift one's spirits in the audio department. The voiceovers at least lend an air of authority and professionalism. Although the information presented is interesting, the effort to extract it is just not worth the reward.
CCC Senior Writer