Review: Derrick the Deathfin (PSN)
Title: Derrick the Deathfin
Format: PlayStation Network Download (816 MB)
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Publisher: Different Tuna
Developer: Different Tuna
Original MSRP: $7.99
ESRB Rating: 10+
Derrick the Deathfin is a PlayStation Network exclusive.
You play as a shark named Derrick. Controls are quite easy to master, as you control his movements with the left analog, R2 makes you swim faster, and Circle makes him chomp or eat. The game is, at-heart, a 2D side-scroller with Derrick swimming through the oceans of different continents. You start in the North-American region, and once you complete a level, you move-on to the next. Once completed, any level can be played again to try and improve your time or score. Objectives are different in each level, but the basic types are to get from beginning to end, time trials, and specific levels with specific goals (like boss battles or interactions with specific objects etc.)
Each level is filled food such as lobsters or fish, obstacles that you have to get around to make it to the finish line, and other level-specific objects. Also edible are chili peppers, and when you do, you get a burst of speed that might help you improve your time, or allow you to jump farther out of the water to get something previously not reachable. You’ll also be able to pull-off a feeding frenzy of sorts, when you find these bomb-type things and eat them. Depending on the direction you head when you eat it, you’ll perform one of four different frenzies:
DASH DEATH! (straight forward w/ twirl)
DEATH FROM ABOVE! (straight down)
ZIG ZAG DOOM! (zig zag!)
VIOLENCE VORTEX! (circular one)
One thing that makes me laugh every time at is when you jump out of the water and on to a boat or island, which allows you to eat the people that taunt you from above the water. Maybe it’s just because I watched ‘Jaws’ recently, but it just gives me a giggle. Derrick the Deathfin is filled with comedy though, from the load screens to actions you’ll need to perform, there’s a good deal of whimsey to enjoyed.
You’ll never have time to get bored either, since each level only takes a couple of minutes, and this is a design decision that I really love. It keeps the game fresh, and especially since most of the levels are pretty action-packed, it gives you a chance to get your composure after battling an Orca or achieving a frenzied “Violence Vortex”. The action is quick, and there’s quite a lot in each level to keep you busy, and all with great variety. Along the way, you’ll also be picking up as many gems as you can in some levels, and as mentioned before, you’ll even jump out of the water occasionally to do so. When you do, you’ll also have flaming tires to jump through for huge rewards (and a bit of fanfare on success.)
It boils-down to a game that really reminds of of something that I would have loved to have played in the 16-bit days, and again, that’s a VERY good thing. One last thing too, this is definitely a game that your children can play and enjoy. The rating of 10+ includes the category of “Comic Mischief” and it’s just that, comic. Nothing gets gory or overly-violent, which is a nice aspect of this game for all of the emails we always get from parents asking what games they could play with their kids.
The entire visual style of the game is definitely inspired by papercraft, and they’ve done an excellent job at adding a lot of character into everything you see. As a side-scroller, they’ve added an immense amount of depth to the environment both below the water and above. The framerate is pleasing, but does hiccup rarely. Colors are vibrant, and every character in the game looks like something out of a cartoon. It really is a beautiful game, and the choice to use the papercraft theme is something that I love.
The first thing you’ll hear when you start this game up is something that anyone who’s ever played a Sega-produced game for the Genesis/Megadrive will definitely appreciate. In honor of the classic “Sega” voice and logo at the beginning of the Sonic titles and many others on the console, they’ve replaced the name with “Derrick” in a similar voice and logo. Yeah, that caught me by surprise, and I instantly let out a chuckle. The sound design is good with a lot happening throughout the game. Nothing gets irritating, and it definitely does the job. As I sit here though, nothing beside that opening line has stuck in my mind. One of the highlights of the 16-bit generation were the memorable soundtracks for games like Sonic and Super Mario etc, and so far, that same aspect of the audio hasn’t permeated my old brain. That’s not to say that the audio is ‘bad’ in any way, but so far it hasn’t reached that level of “instantly recognized.”
Derrick the Deathfin is a single-player game. The only online aspect is an abbreviated online leaderboard. Thing is though, it really only shows scores, and doesn’t show any player names at all (at least on the debug code used for this review.)
I think that it’s pretty clear already that I really like this game. I’d only heard of it in the past, and my thanks go out to Chris from http://psnstores.com for hooking us up with the developers to get this early look.