There’s plenty of fish in the sea. You’ll quickly come to learn this as you avoid all manners of creatures on your quest to find the most valuable pearl. Meet Gilbert the clown fish. Gilbert love’s Pearlina. Pearlina surprisingly loves Pearls. You get the idea.
This endless runner or better named endless swimmer see’s Gilbert trying to navigate through the majestic blue sea in search of these diamonds. It may look inviting with it’s kid friendly characters, yet the message that Gilbert must obtain the most expensive pearl in the sea to win Pearlina over is not a great one. Now I ain’t saying she a gold digger, so we’ll swiftly move on. What I am saying though is there are dozens of similar video games so what makes this one stand out? Will Gilbert sink or swim?
Transitioning to the Nintendo 3DS you have the dual screen to help prepare for oncoming obstacles. You then use the stylus to drag Gilbert left to right. It’s a simple, easy to pick up trait that works very well; some would say better than the mobile iteration and i’m inclined to agree. Apart from the stylus slipping away after playing a level for ten minutes straight I did find it to hold up well. It would have been nice to have the option to use the analog stick to navigate. One thing I did appreciate was every time you pause the game mid-level, when you return the game gives you a three-second count in. This could be overlooked as plenty of times you are just thrown back into the action and immediately die.
To progress this unfulfilling story you must complete a set of challenges. When you have cleared enough more is revealed about the couple’s relationship. The story is the least interesting aspect of the game by far. What hooked me was the upgrade system to help you progress. All the those well-earned shells go to some use as you can trade them for power-ups. This is a decent incentive to make you progress further. That and viewing what the sea has to offer as it does look very pretty on the slightly bigger screen of the 3DS. Nothing startling like the Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker however still quite charming.
Everything about the gameplay is very familiar meaning if you’ve played a runner before you’ll straight away know the concept. This is why Ocean runner can become stale far too quick as you essentially have one level. Each time trying to better your score can only hold out for so long. This along with the difficulty cease what could have been quite an extensive attempt at an already huge crowd. With enough practice and patience to grind the game can be completed in under 4 hours. That is if you can be bothered to see out Gilbert’s adventure as there is nothing on show that would make you want to. Multiple variations may have made this experience seem longer, but since there isn’t the game can burn you out in less than an hour. On the other hand if you love the never-ending concept there is possibly enough to keep you going for a few more hours but in reality it’s nothing than would make you want to pull an all nighter.
One aspect I genuinely loved was the music. Even though there is only two tracks repeated (which does let repetition set in) those two are great. One is a fast rock theme which reminds me of something “The Offspring” would have written and the other gives off a disco 90’s vibe very much like the Sega in their heyday. Now as great as this music is it does feely oddly misplaced. Remember this game is set underwater and going from the music nothing here seem’s to tell you that.
Ocean Runner seem’s like an original take on one of the most overused genres, although invest some time and you can tell Gilbert is out of his depth. The familiar yet fun gameplay and addictive power ups unfortunately do not make up for the misplaced music, drab storyline and lack of replay value. Ocean runner does not sink or swim but it does float.
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