DSiWare is admittedly a pretty hit or miss service, with games on it typically being forgettable mini-games and otherwise unexceptional apps. The G.G series does a remarkable job of providing decent quality arcade experiences, and the next game in the long list of titles in this series is no different. G.G Series THE SPIKY BLOWFISH!! is a colourful and well designed game that delivers a surprising challenge at a low price point.
The premise is quite simple: players take control of a cute, yellow blowfish as he journeys through the depths of the ocean. Along the way, he must use his spiky hide to fight through a variety of aquatic life that aim to block his path. The deep sea environments he explores are quite colourful and busy, and each level the blowfish swims through is a real treat on the eyes as all the different parts come together to make a cohesive whole. The high quality sprites of the blowfish and the other aquatic life are a real highlight here, fluidly animated in a way that even evokes a slight sense of personality. The music matches the visual design by being upbeat and playful, but it gets repetitive quickly as only one song is played throughout the entire game.
Gameplay is unique and could most closely be described as a platformer with light shooter elements. The blowfish controls somewhat like Kirby in that a tap of the "A" button causes him to puff up and rise slightly, with the added benefit of defeating any enemies he comes into contact with on the way up. A tap of "B" causes him to shoot spikes forward to dispatch enemies that get in his way, such as minnows or jellyfish. Controls are tight and the player receives a score at the end of the stage based off of performance, which is calculated by how much damage was taken, how quickly the goal was reached, and whether or not the player grabbed all of the collectable stars scattered around each stage. Overall, it works quite well and the scoring system encourages players to take risks in order to get a better score.
Levels come in sets of three, with a boss fight against a crab or a seahorse at the end of every third level. Later stages diversify the experience and give it some variety by introducing factors such as more enemy types and hazards, or by modifying previous stages with things like an auto-scrolling screen or by darkening portions of the screen to obscure the player's view of hazards. Even though there isn't that much variety in the environments themselves, these gameplay modifications help keep things fresh.
There are a few problems with the experience that certainly do lessen the player's enjoyment. For one, the music could use a lot more variety, as the same track played over and over is rather irritating and grinding. Additionally, some of the later stages start to rely on increasingly cheap or luck based challenges, essentially reducing them to long bouts of trial and error. While these are admittedly marginal faults, they're unfortunately just noticeable enough to take away some of the fun.
G.G Series The Spiky Blowfish is a quirky little arcade platformer with a lot of heart and personality. While it does suffer from a repetitive soundtrack and some problems with maintaining a consistent difficulty curve, the overall experience is enjoyable and great for quick and brief bouts of gaming. The colourful visuals, unique gameplay and score chasing nature make this one well worth taking the plunge.