Impressions: Shark’s Treasure: The Quest of the Mermaids

The iPhone/iPod Touch’s built-in accelerometer can be used for a myriad of different things, but it’s mostly made use of by game developers to add motion control to their games. Whether its tilting, turning, or even the occasional shimmy and shake some games often have such controls unwillingly grafted onto perfectly fine mechanics, while others practically beg for this type of control scheme. While it may not be any kind of fabulous, Shark’s Treasure: The Quest of the Mermaids is a pleasant little diversion for Apple’s platform that makes the most of the unit’s inherent controls and offers tremendous value for its guppy-like asking price.

What is essentially a ported version of an online Flash game, Shark’s Adventure follows the exploits of a submarine hungry for treasure. Using the accelerometer, you must tilt your device to guide the submarine throughout the murky depths of the ocean, avoiding mines and pesky sharks ready to gobble you up. Of course, you’ll want to collect the good, such as treasure chests full of gold to up your score. And that’s pretty much all you need to know. It’s not rocket science – it’s a casual game that serves up over 100 levels teeming with different setups that require a keen sense of navigation beneath the sea in order to become a rich submariner. Sounds simple, right? Most levels can be completed fairly quickly, so you might be in danger of finishing the entire game throughout a few hours of playtime, while others are incredibly rough, and will require several attempts to help perfect your game.

It’s certainly easy to pick up and play without a fuss. Since motion control is a touchy subject I was surprised to learn that piloting the diminutive submarine in Shark’s Treasure was more simple and accurate than I anticipated, and the controls were surprisingly precise and reactive…unlike some games on the platform are known to be.

Perhaps the game’s more egregious misstep is with its presentation, which is positively brimming (no pun intended) with grammatical errors and gross misuse of the English language. I’m not generally one to gripe about such discrepancies, but the game reads as though someone with a less than stellar grasp of the language wrote all of the directions and menu text without proofreading, or at least a good once-over. It’s not a huge deal (and unintentionally hilarious), but may turn off the less tolerable who assume that along with bad editing comes a bad or broken experience.

Shark’s Treasure also supports custom soundtracks, though they don’t always work. Halfway through a song the audio will cut out completely; is an unforgivable error if you’re into the groove. Not to mention the graphics – while colorful – are depressingly bad, with flat, 2D micro-sprites that wouldn’t have looked out of place on an 8-bit console. Still, there isn’t much reason to complain when you’re only paying a dollar for over 100 levels of simple fish-fun on the go.

Whether you’re looking for a very plain and simple accelerometer-based game to take along on your iPhone or iPod Touch or just need a quick action/puzzle fix, Shark’s Treasure: The Quest of the Mermaids should fit the bill just fine. With over 100 levels of aquatic fun available for such a paltry asking price there’s plenty to like here, although the game’s questionable presentation and grammar mistakes may cause some to throw it back. Just don’t go expecting to stumble upon the Lost City of Atlantis here; think small, like the Little Mermaid’s paradise and you’ll come out swimmingly.

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