The Great White Destroyer
Release: September 20th, 2010
Genre: Arcade, Action
Developer: Backyard Ninja Design
Available Platforms: PC
Players: 1 Player
MSRP: $ 6.00
Website: The Great White Destroyer
I had doubts about this game. Any game with the name “Destroyer” in it makes me hesitant to love it. Certain games get so lost in chaos. They try so hard to capture the feeling of mayhem, that they lose any potential purpose they may have. They lose direction. At face value, The Great White Destroyer (TGWD to be referred to from now on) may seem like that kind of game; a chaotic slew of unorganized mayhem, but don’t be fooled. This game will, despite it’s few flaws, charm most with its tidal wave of character, and balanced, not to mention surprisingly strategic gameplay.
The gameplay relies on a very simple mouse-dependent control system. Attacking/Eating enemies and prey is done automatically when you overlap the fish or person. Using the two primary mouse buttons, you can go at three different speeds (the third by holding both), and all of the more complicated gameplay is stacked on top of this easy-to-learn base. The first several levels introduce you to this system starting with a tutorial, and soon ease you into understanding some of the strategy of the game. Before you know it, you are fighting a battleship by redirecting torpedoes at it. The game takes very simply core concepts and adds lots of different scenarios that amplify the enjoyment ten-fold.
The primary objective in most levels is to kill all the animals you can to build up a meter designating the happiness of the shark god who instructs and watches over you. Often levels will have special scenarios, and almost always new fish, or humans to intrude into your sea. There are quite a few boss battles as well, each very fun, original, and distinct from the last. When you get a multitude of kills in a short time span you enter “Blood Frenzy”, which allows you to swim faster, bite harder, and above all; look cooler. While the game often makes fair changes from level to level, keeping you constantly entertained, certain levels just fall into “kill lots of these fish until your bar fills and you win”. There are several instances where this occurs, and after the first time, it becomes quite boring and repetitive. Often a new enemy is added, but they don’t really add enough to constitute an entire level. Aside from these few levels, however, the game stays fresh throughout, and consistently adds fun features between most levels.
The core gameplay mechanics and levels are made all the better by some of the other aspects that were lovingly interwoven into the game. The style of the game is very much humorous, lightening the mood set by the copious amounts of blood spilled by your character (if you choose to allow it). Dialogue appears often at the beginning of each mission. Jokes pop in every couple minutes, and really add to the character of the game. Some definitely fall flat, but others I openly laughed to. The art style compliments this theme with it’s cartoonish look, I was actually quite impressed with some of the characters, the most impressive of which is the titular shark. The sound effects are also pretty great. The dialogue is only accompanied with high pitched, and guttural sounds, but the game itself is aided by a plethora of sounds, which really add to the experience, although they don’t bring it to a new level. Overall the game exudes character, admittedly with a few holes such as the hit and miss humor, and the fact that certain characters in the Mr. Manatee mode (which will be discussed in a moment) are often blown up sprites from the normal singleplayer, in which they are 1/5th – 1/10th the size that they are in Manatee mode, leading to often blown up ugly looking characters that break the otherwise great art direction.
TGWD gives a lot to do from the get-go. There is the normal singleplayer, referred to as Destroyer mode, then there is a boss mode comprised of 20 original bosses that are totally separate from the Destroyer mode called Mr. Manatee mode. As was just mentioned, the bosses are often redone sprites from the common enemies of the Destroyer mode, where they appear much smaller than in Manatee mode, leading to some cringe-worthy adversaries who’s individual pixel blocks can be larger than the original size of the creature. Luckily this is the mode’s major problem as not only did I find the mode highly enjoyable, but also easier to come back to as compared to Destroyer mode. Each boss often has a distinct strategy along with it, and most are rather challenging, without being overly frustrating. (You even battle a whale version of Goku, who fires huge beams out of his mouth) Both Destroyer and Manatee modes can be played on 4 distinct difficulties. At the harder difficulties the game forces you to use strategy, changing up what your tactics may be for that level or boss. However the difficulties seemingly only change certain values, such as damage, which unfortunately limits the replay-ability of being able to play and enjoy a certain level by simply changing the difficulty.
TGWD’s main scoring system is designated from certain actions, types of kills, and which creatures you kill. There are boosters such as easting multiple creatures in one bite. This scoring system has proved (at least in my case) to be incredibly addictive, and you’ll begin to want herd fish together and eat them as a group to get a certain bonus, or launch people into the air for another. If you are fast, strategic, and quick thinking you can start getting huge amounts of points, and it is intensely gratifying. There is also a high score system that compiles all your points at the end of your play time. If you are connected to the internet, it can submit them to the TGWD High Score list, where you can then compare your score with others’. If high scores are your thing, I can imagine you may spend quite a lot of time trying to top your previous score, or perhaps other people’s.
The Great White Destroyer was quite a pleasant surprise for me, I was not expecting it’s colorful theme, and cast of characters. From its aesthetic, to its sounds, to its (often) humorous dialogue it is simply very likable. It is built around a simple base, and yet accomplishes so much, even turning into one of the most strategic action games I’ve played in a while. It’s plethora of features, from it’s points system, and high score bulletin, to it’s two equally enjoyable modes fill it out to be a pretty long experience, although it wears thin after a few play-throughs. It’s Destroyer singleplayer mode is a blast, although it can become repetitive and tedious at certain points, and it’s Mr. Manatee boss mode is an awesome treat that really shows off the game mechanics well, even if the boss sprites are just redone models from the singleplayer blown up to overly-large proportions. Overall this game is quite fun, and a steal for the 6 bucks you can buy it for. I’d recommend it to any action gamer, as it is a refreshing change in gameplay compared to most games in the genre, and wrapped tight in a wonderful theme that exudes humor and charm.