When it comes to game adaptations of well-known movies and cartoons, I often approach with caution. The transition from the big screen to gaming can be a disastrous affair for many licensed franchises. However, with the release of games such as South Park’s The Stick Of Truth and Batman’s Arkham series, expectations for franchised game releases are on he rise. Fortunately, action-platformer Slugterra: Dark Waters manages to meet these expectations head on.
Having never heard of the cartoon series before downloading this game, I must say the underground world of Slugterra is an odd one. Our protagonist Eli Shane must defend his subterranean home from Dr. Blakk, using cute slugs that are both loving pets and deadly ammunition. Throughout Dark Waters, you will brawl with Dr Blakk’s minions by blasting them with these weaponized slugs and dodging the ones they shoot in return, all to ensure Dr. Blakk doesn’t turn the native slugs evil using “Dark Water”.
Slugterra: Dark Waters appears similair to its original material, as the characters resemble their TV counterparts in every way. For instance, your default companion is Pronto, a fat squirrel-esque bloke, and your starter slug is an incredibly rare and powerful Infernus slug – just like in the show. However, it’s not necessary to have watched the cartoon to enjoy this game, as they appear to have little impact on each other. In fact, I get the impression that the developers at Apps Ministry were fully aware that many players wouldn’t be fans of the series and so tailored the game to suit them.
Overall, Apps Ministry has managed to create a fun game with a lot of variety. Within the tutorial alone, play switches between third-person and first person, and the latter is where gameplay truly becomes impressive. When battling bosses in arenas, you control your critters as they hurtle out of your blaster towards the enemy. You must maneuver your slug to the enemy in order to damage them and continue the game. Also, if an enemy slug is racing towards you at the same time as you shoot, you enter a mini-game where the slugs will fight it out. This feature is extremely refreshing and adds significant depth to the game overall.
Where many mobile games only allow you a certain amount of control, Slugterra: Dark Waters is entirely hands on. Eli will not do anything unless you instruct him to do so, whether it be shooting foes, smashing boxes or even moving. While refreshing at first, this feature soon became a little irritating. Although the controls are simple – mostly you’re required to tap and swipe – I was constantly being pulled out the gaming experience because the tiny graphics and touch-screen made it hard to get Eli to run to the correct locations or fire at the right opponent with any sort of precision. If you have the choice, you may want to play the game on a tablet rather than on your phone.
As you progress through Slugterra, you collect coins, which you must use to build your character’s strength and upgrade your weaponry if you want to succeed. Surprisingly, this was my favorite part of Slugterra: Dark Waters, because this makes exploration critical to your advancement.
If you aren’t a fan of exploring maps for hidden coins you can also watch video advertisements, each worth a hundred coins. Apps Ministry has been very crafty with their monetary system, as the daily amount of coins you can receive from watching these ads will only enable you to buy one new item or make one significant upgrade. It is completely possible to progress through the game through exploration and watching ads; however, if you want to get through the game quickly there are IAPs in the form of coin packages, the most expensive of which is £39.99. Yes, this is a big investment for a mobile game, but it’s unlikely that you’ll feel the need to spend any real money whilst playing.
Whether you’re a longtime fan of Slugterra or a newcomer, chances are you’ll find Slugterra: Dark Waters enjoyable. There are a variety of fantastic features, while the freemium model is well implemented and rarely interferes with your gameplay. However, although it’s clear the game was made with a lot of love and optimized for mobile devices, there are still a few holes, particularly when it comes to responsiveness and user interface.
Is it Hardcore?
Slugterra’s transition from cartoon series to mobile gaming may be impressive, but there are still improvements to be made.