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SQUIDS Wild West for iOS
 

SQUIDS Wild West for iOS

Platform: iPhone/iPod
Category: Strategy
 
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SQUIDS Wild West, provided to me by The Game Bakers, is the sequel to SQUIDS, one of my favorite iOS games. You can read my review of the original here in which I gave it a nine out of ten. Wild West is a turn-based strategy game featuring a fun, engaging story. The original did a good job of bringing that part of the story to a close while leaving a lot of questions for this game. As soon as I heard of the sequel, I was very anxious. I'd never been so excited for an iOS game release announcement. It didn't let me down.

Graphics

The graphics in the screenshots for the original are what drew me to the game, and Wild West's graphics are pretty much the same. The game features colorful underwater environments, complete with light reflections that make it look as if you're looking through water. Characters are bright and fun and have large portraits that are displayed during dialogue. During levels, you can zoom-in to see details or zoom out to see the level as a whole. Between levels, images are displayed to progress the plot. They're like cutscenes consisting of a succession of still images.

Sound

The music is good, but I really love the sound effects. Hitting enemies, picking up items - of course these types of things have sounds that play when they occur. The best is probably the little jingle that plays when you beat the level.

Gameplay

First, you should note that playing Wild West spoils the storyline for the original. As such, I'm going to discuss a spoiler for the original here. If you want to avoid them, skip to the next paragraph. In SQUIDS, a black ooze is turning people violent and evil. A group of squids led by master Winnick join forces to fight the ooze. In the end, the ooze is pushed back but not stopped. Worse, Winnick is taken by the ooze. Wild West continues the squids' quest, adding the goal of confronting Winnick.

Care to know how to actually play? Each level has a different goal such as surviving a certain number of turns, destroying all enemies, or reaching a particular location. In most levels, you control a party of four. The game is turn-based. You control each of your squids in turn (in the order the team had been set). After you take your turns, the enemies go. To control your squid, you pull back on them to launch them forward, slamming into enemies to cause damage. In addition, each class of squid has a different special move. Three of them are activated by tapping - dashing, stomping, and shooting. The final ability, healing, is used by running into an ally. New to Wild West are mounts. Run into a seahorse to jump on it, increasing movement speed and acting as a shield.

You can acquire pearls by finding them chests in a level, picking them up after damaging enemies, or performing various goals. They can be used to level squids or purchase equipment and items. I found that I basically only leveled the base four that I liked most in my party. I suppose this is similar to my style in a lot of RPGs. Sometimes Wild West makes you play with other characters but not often.

Items can be found or purchased. Equipment can be used to raise stats while other items are on-use. Equipable items are kind of strange. When you "equip" an item, you're actually absorbing its stats. You can equip every hat (for that class) and get all the benefits. Then you can pick which one to wear just for cosmetic reasons. It seems odd to force players to do this since there's not really a choice. In most games, only a single character can equip something at a time, and they can usually only equip one item per type. In SQUIDS Wild West, every scout-class squid can equip every scout-class hat at the same time. It would have made more sense to automatically give the stat bonus to every applicable squid as soon as the equipment was acquired and then leave actual equipping it solely for the cosmetics.

On-use items include items that resurrect a fallen squid, increase pearls acquired, power-up your squid, etc. I didn't use any during my playthrough. In another similarity to how I play RPGs, I hoarded my items for no real reason. The items can certainly help; I bet they'd really help a less skilled player continue through the game without getting stuck. There was another odd inventory-related aspect however; when new equipment or characters are unlocked, they're placed in the store with a "free" price tag. Why put them in the store, purchasable for free? Why not just make them purchased immediately.

SQUIDS Wild West features 25 base levels plus bonus levels in five different chapters. When you finish a chapter, you unlock a bonus level and the next chapter. This allows you to move ahead with the story or try a hard bonus level. Completing a bonus level unlocks the next (if there's another). These are much more difficult than the regular levels. I did some as I played at first but decided to stop and focus on progressing the main game. This left me the bonus levels for the end of the game. Levels have a base objective to win plus three bonus objectives. They're always the same additional goals - finding the secret star, beating the level with all squids surviving, and beating the level in a particular number of turns. I tried to get all as I went, but just like with the bonus levels, I decided to come back to this goal at the end. In the original SQUIDS, I went back and got all the stars eventually; I'm sure I'll do the same with Wild West.

Conclusion

SQUIDS Wild West is a fantastic follow up to SQUIDS. It's the first iOS franchise about which I actually get excited. Wild West requires strategy, allowing you to try different tactics until you succeed (or grind older levels if you need). Its great difficulty curve provides a challenge without being overly frustrating. Wild West is currently on sale for $0.99 but will be $1.99 on the App Store. I recommend it at either price. After finishing Wild West, I can say that I'm eagerly awaiting the third installment!









 
 

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