Monday, April 19, 2010

Squishy Tank review

Written by pikaby

Games based on Japanese pop culture play out no differently from games based on movies.

Squishy Tank, or Yawaraka Sensha as its known in native Japan, is known for its cute, likeable characters, the titular squishy tanks, and for the fact that these tanks are the very opposite of what a real tank should be- tough and strong. It also included a dose of humor understandable only to the Japanese. To make a game based on a web-made Flash anime would be exactly like making a licensed title for a movie, which are usually known for their mediocrity since they were never made from the ground up as games. At least this one isn't relegated to diabolical platforming.

The game is a five-colored block puzzle game and plays out kinda like a variant of Mr. Driller. You're not a character on screen, all you do is tap the blocks (3 or more of the same color touching each other), and they disappear. There's a time limit and a target for how many of each color you're supposed to clear. Finish that, and it's off to the next stage.

The story mode is a paltry four chapters long, each with the exact same puzzles and the exact same difficulty curve. Three colors for the first stage, clear 30 blocks, to five colors and 200 of each color for the final stage. The puzzling mechanic is adequate, but it never succeeds to give you any real trouble to clear them unless you have five colors on screen at once. It's too easy and gets repetitive really fast, and the special blocks that clear multiple rows of blocks at once only make it even more of a pushover than it is already.

Aside from the story mode, there's a survival mode, a time attack mode and a Quest mode. Sigh...these are the same modes we're all used to in every other puzzle game ever made involving lining up or tapping blocks. I don't even have to explain them. Squishy Tank, as a puzzle game, is extremely derivative in a time where creativity is very much valued and doesn't stand out as anything more than...average.

The only thing that isn't average are the tanks themselves. Pulling their success off the Japanese online community, their adorable squeals and looks populate the top screen as you shatter block piles. Their humor is apparent in the story's cutscenes, but these are few and far between. There are some nice references to gaming, the most obvious parodies being that of the Metal Gear Solid series. You'll find them easily enough. But with the story being so short, whatever sense of humor the tanks ever have is limited. If you understand Japanese you'll probably have a better laugh watching their net anime on Youtube or Livedoor.

Puzzle games are split into two groups- those that are addictive, and those that are not. The ones that aren't will have their replayability cut to about 1/100th of the best puzzlers like Meteos, Panel de Pon, Tetris  and Puyo Puyo.And unfortunately Squishy Tank falls into the latter group. Good as the subject matter may be(and the pointless costume mode that every cute Japanese game seems to have), Squishy Tank would be better off left back in boot camp in Japan.

Score: 5.5/10

1 comment:

  1. An easy, cute puzzle game... I think this is a game my little sister will actually enjoy (as in play and finish)!