It might be said that Squids has come full circle. Starting on mobile platforms, The Game Bakers’ brand extended its tentacles to a console experience with Squids Odyssey on the Wii U, which we’ve reviewed. The same game has now found a home on the 3DS, returning to its portable roots with a few small differences.
Squids Odyssey combines slingshot-like mechanics with mild RPG elements to create a fun little battler. A player’s party of up to four squids faces off against ooze-possessed denizens of the deep in each top-down stage, largely by pulling back on their tentacles and launching them into foes. The direction and intensity of each shot can be controlled with either the Circle Pad or stylus, but the Circle Pad, with its smooth rotation and tighter feel compared to a Wii U control stick, is especially suited for the job.
Each squid recruited along the journey also belongs to one of four classes capable of a special skill or attack. Scouts can make a few small dashes beyond the amount of stamina given for movement in a turn, healers can recover the HP of friendlies they bump into, shooters can hit with a long-range attack each turn, and troopers can unleash an area-of-effect sumo stomp that sends opponents scattering. The A button or a tap of the stylus can execute special attacks but the button feels more reliable, especially when used in tandem with the Circle Pad to aim a dashing scout.
The reliability of control is important, as positioning and precision each play play a significant role. A squid can only go so far each turn, and you don’t want to leave one stranded near a gang of enemies or easy prey at the edge of a pit. Squids Odyssey delivers the means to manoeuvre, but the need to plan out a strategy increases through the stages, especially if you want to reap bonuses for time and safety.
The menu is the control point for choosing your party, their turn order, and using pearls found throughout the game to purchase items, level-ups, and stat-boosting hats. Boosts gained from hats are cumulative and permanent, meaning you’re free to adorn a squid with whatever you want. The whole method still feels a bit of a chore, though, especially when straight up level increases can also be bought.
While the 3DS version of Odyssey doesn’t quite share the hi-def TV glory of its Wii U sibling, 3D has been utilized to make the beautiful level artwork stand out and provide a better sense of watery depth. Cutscenes do play on both screens, which is a slightly disappointing waste of real estate — some additional artwork would have been wonderful to see. The often light and bubbly soundtrack and its use of ukulele, however, is perfectly placed.
The story within Squids Odyssey also has an amount of depth not usually expected from former mobile titles. It’s by no means 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, but the characters shine with personality and zippy dialogue is frequent through the game’s eight chapters. It’s a pity that all characters in a class operate the same, but favourites will be chosen and more than one member of the same class can be placed in a party. If you want to send in a strike team of shooters wielding pistols, crossbows, and candy canes(?), you can.
Squids Odyssey may not satisfy those looking for a deep RPG experience, but it remains an appealing, charming choice for players wanting kinetic fun with a side of strategy. The 3DS version suits the pick-up-and-playability of the title well, even if it looks more gorgeous on the Wii U. Yet depending on the cross-buy options in your area, having to decide between the two may be a moot point.