Shark Dash is a gorgeous, slickly produced and compulsive little game that Gameloft hope will be as popular as… Temple Run. The gameplay involves firing a Shark across a bathtub to eat all of the rubber ducks in the level. In that way the gameplay is similar to…. Fragger. The progression through the game involves not only trying to beat each level, but doing each in the minimum number of moves and achieveing a 3 star score just like…..Auuurrrggghh!!
Ok, I have to say it again: Angry Birds. Its just like Angry Birds. Still, of all the clones this is absolutely one of the best and Gameloft have done a great job of capturing the addictive core of Rovio’s game. Your little shark avatar is fired around the level by pulling back on his tail and releasing him like a rubber band with chomping teeth. Seeing him snap forward, jaws wide, is endlessly entertaining. The animations on the characters are great, from the fiendishly charming shark to the terrified, squeaking ducks. The environment is also pretty, with satisfying splashes from the bathtub and fun, bouncy and buoyant water effects. There’s something I’ve always liked about games set in miniature version of the real world, and the giant bathroom the game takes place in is vaguely reminiscent of something like Micro Machines.
The one key area Gameloft gets right in this title is the level design. Shark Dash’s best levels feel like Rube Goldberg machines. The mix of dynamics is what makes the game satisfying. There’s so many objects crammed into each bath tub, and every one of them is fun and well designed. Whether its the inflatable floating toys, the bouncy sponges or the pipes that speed your shark at high velocity, there’s always something to play with. Even better, each level generally has one obvious method of completion, but also has scope for the player to find an even better solution. All of the design decisions give the player a good chance of success and encourage experimentation, from the range that your avatar can gobble up ducks to the generous hit detection when he flies near coins. There’s always a sneaky technique that the player can come up with – often involving a crazy long distance bounce off the bathtub walls – that they can use to beat a tough level.
Other than its utter derivativeness, there’s not really much to criticise. This is a slick and well designed package that will suck hours out of your day. The music is a bit soulless, but other than that this is as good a *cough cough* clone as you can find on the market today. If you’re done flying with the birds, why not take a swim with the Sharks?
7 cute rubber duckies, brutally murdered out of 10