Squids: Odyssey Slides onto Nintendo Consoles
Squids: Odyssey released on May 22. This downloadabe eShop title is a collection featuring the two previous iOS titles in the Squids series followed by a bonus add-on teasing the future of the franchise. Who is this aimed at? Ryan at The Gamer's Lounge tries to figure that out.
I was pretty excited to get my hands on Squids: Odyssey, being that one of the first articles I ever wrote for GoozerNation was when Squids: Wild West debuted. The idea that a solid iOS game company was stepping out and trying their hand at a console title was interesting for me, but I had no idea what they would offer console gamers that we hadn't seen on the iPhone already.
For those uninitiated, Squids Odyssey is a delightful mix of genres, best described as Final Fantasy Tactics meets Angry Birds. A surprisingly deep story for what was originally an iOS game sees the titular characters battling to save their homes from the mysterious black ooze that threatens their world. Each turn-based level allows you to pick an army of four squids from your battallion, with four different classes to choose from, to complete objectives, whether it be eliminating enemies, collecting certain items, or getting to a goal in time. You are awarded with stars for finishing levels under certain restrictions, which translate into the in-game currency of pearls, used to buy new equipment or level up your characters.
Translating the game from mobile devices to consoles at first seems simple, but there are a few catches. First and foremost, the original game had a freemium model of sorts, offering purchaseable items. Now a full retail purchase on a less-privvy to DLC unit, the game has to fully rely on the in-game currency. If you need a bit more power, you have to go through the old levels and earn more pearls. This can be good if you like the game, but tedious if you're stuck on a level and just want to get past. Secondly, as it's being introduced to a new audience, previous owners of the iOS titles are not going to find anything new for a long time, as you have to make your way through the original Squids and Squids Wild West before the last little bit becomes unlocked. I feel it may have lent itself to more of one of the Lego Trilogy attitudes, where there are three separate games you can choose between, or simply by asking the new player if it is their first time playing the series or not. This game fits better to individuals who have never played the originals, or diehard fans who don't mind too much going through the games again.
For those new to the series, you'll find loveable, memorable characters and fun, addictive gameplay as you use your squid's limited power bit by bit in order to maximize damage.The game plays nearly identical to its smartphone bretheren when using off-screen play. When using your main television, the game offers the currently active character on the gamepad, giving a zoomed-in touch interface control, or you can use the button controls, which take a bit of getting used to if you know the touchscreen style well, but are well thought out and sufficient enough for an enjoyable experience. I was worried I'd end up looking at the pad most of the time, therein defeating the purpose of the main television, but after a few levels, I was right on par, enjoying the game on the big screen.
I was a bit frustrated with the game at first, but perhaps it is because of what else I've been playing. I've been hard into Fire Emblem: Awakening, one of the most hardcore tactical experiences of recent date. In that game, you are deciding what weapons your character has, what classes they will evolve into, method of attack, order of attack, who they end up marrying and therefore creating new characters in another generation...the works. I tried to move to another squid because I wanted to attack before healing to maximize my army, but was disappointed to find out I could only skip turns. The only way to do proper ordering is via the pre-game battle menu. After a while, though, I remembered that this is geared toward a more general audience than Fire Emblem, and found it enjoyable to just fling along and enjoy the story for what it is. Not every game needs to suck you in, and Squids wasn't designed for that. It's a lighthearted game that is made to enjoy as you have time for it, and not to suck you in and alienate you from society as I've admittedly become with Fire Emblem.
By and large, purchasing Squids: Odyssey for either your Wii U or 3DS is a purchase you won't regret. It may not be the must-have purchase of fans of the series, unless they've long dreamed of playing the game on their HDTV or would like to see the Squids world in 3D. For those newly interested in the series, or those wanting to take turn-based RPG action for a preliminary spin, this is a perfect purchase, and you'll get hours of gameplay from this release as you whip your little squids through swarms of enemies and try to fight back the ooze.
Special thanks to The Game Bakers for providing a review copy for the Wii U.