Tentacles: Enter the Dolphin (universal) by Microsoft is a platformer with a very distinct style and story to tell. We also can’t miss the obvious: it is an App Store game being published by Microsoft, which is a bit of an odd thing to see on iOS. But more importantly, Tentacles is a great game, both for casual gamers and hardcore platformer lovers (like myself).
Deep within a lab, the dolphin scientist Professor Phluff was working on his latest money-making genetic invention – a little black one-eyed creature named Lemmy. An unfortunate lab accident causes him to inhale Lemmy, who finds himself inside the dolphin doctor, looking for a way out. And that’s where players come in, controlling Lemmy and his long limbs as he traverses Phluff’s insides, trying to find a way out and racking up a high score along the way.
The premise is an amusing set-up for the game, which is a really unique take on platforming. Every level is an enclosed area – like a blood vessel or the colon, to use two examples from early stages – and with a tap on the screen, Lemmy will move one of his four limbs to the desired area on the screen. Avoiding enemies and collecting orbs for bonus points is no longer just about timing: there’s a physics element involved sometimes, as Lemmy sacrifices grip on one part of the landscape to move to another.
It gives the game a very different feel than most side-scrollers, a feeling the gorgeous Retina art duplicates. The game’s bright colors and smooth animations are some of the best of the genre, breathing personality into each and every one of the game levels. Technically, Tentacles is one of the more impressive games on the platform, especially on the iPad screen, where the animations and colors have more room to breathe.
There are times where the game feels a little repetitive – there’s really not much else to do but collect all the orbs and eyes of every level, which is challenging, but leaves a little to be desired in terms of replay. But while the experience lasts, Tentacles is an engaging adventure, complete with amusing cut scenes and lots of platforming action gamers of any age will enjoy.