Derrick the Deathfin Review
In the day and age when first-person shooters and huge 3D sandbox worlds are the norm, it’s nice to see a game company, in this case indie developer Different Tuna, tipping its hat to the classic old school 2D side scrolling genre.
The first thing you’ll notice about Derrick the Deathfin (apart from the humorous quotes on the loading screens) is the papercraft style of graphics. Everything looks like it has been cut out of paper, folded meticulously and then dropped into a vibrant underwater environment. The game is bright, colourful and delightful from the start. What’s more amazing is this game was developed by only two people. My eleven year old niece, whom I invited to help me play, asked straight away if this game was made by the same people who made Little Big Planet. I suppose that is a very huge compliment, being compared to one of the best games produced this generation.
Controlling Derrick couldn’t be easier, my niece picked up the controls within seconds. The left analog stick is used to manoeuvre Derrick around the level, R2 to make him swim faster, X to eat and circle to lunge attack. I found that I didn’t need to use X at all as the lunge attack was more than useful for eating.
The game idea is very simple – swim from one side of the level to the other – but not so easy in accomplishing. You see Derrick is a hungry shark, orphaned when his parents were turned into fin soup by the nasty company called “M.E.A.N.”. Like any young individual Derrick needs to eat, and eat a lot. Your life is measured on the health bar at the top of the screen and it decreases at an alarming rate. By eating all sorts of ocean life you keep topping up your health. Strangely you can also eat broccoli which restores your health 100%. Perhaps this was a knowing nod to parents out there, allowing them to use Derrick as a perfect example around the dinner table: “Now then Johnny, eat your greens so you can be big and strong like the great white, Derrick”.
The challenge of the game then is to balance trying to jump through flaming tyres like Flipper the dolphin, collecting pink diamonds and finding food spread out in the ocean that will give you enough health to get you to the finish line alive. You need to jump through tyres and collect diamonds to be able to unlock further continents and their levels so you just can’t make a mad dash to the finish line. There are a total of 32 levels, spread over 4 continents, in the game with some being simple puzzle levels, others being tricky time-trials. Throw in the odd boss to defeat and you have a fun PSN game that the whole family will enjoy.
There are a few niggling issues with the game. Trying to time your swim to jump through a tyre can be a very precise issue, and with your health bar rapidly depleting you might only get a few goes at doing it before ending belly up. My niece and I also found the levels with crocodiles a little frustrating as Derrick could find himself stuck on top of, or in between two, crocodiles. Luckily Derrick’s health disappears quickly, allowing us to re-start the level again. Finally, though not an issue, the game plays at a frantic pace meaning that it is easy to miss the wonderful graphics that the developers created. I found myself more than once swimming at a life-threatening slower pace just to take in the vivacious details on the screen.
Derrick the Deathfin is delightfully different with its papercraft graphics and yet refreshingly familiar with its 2D side scrolling set-up. Indie developersDifferent Tuna have produced a wonderful game that can be found on the PSN store for £5.49/€6.99. A great game that should be snapped up by all hungry gaming sharks out there.
I'm loving the game. The art style is awesome!
The only thing that bugs me a little is that it feels like a perfect handheld game trapped in a home console
This game is really a nice little gem. The art-style is lovely, the humor great. The levels are perfectly small for a handheld. Oh, wait, it isn't on Vita.
The first two 'continents' flew by, with only very little re-loading to get the final tyres or diamonds, but at continent 3 the difficulty level is suddenly increasing rapidly. The crododiles are indeed a nuisance, but I found the levels becoming an increasing balance between eating, tying to progress through the level, and actually trying to find the finish line! More than once did I have to restart, simply because I had found everything in the level except for that finish line, and then dying of hunger.
Another gripe: While the gameplay resembles Sonic the Hedgehog at many a times, I found the lack of actual gravity (as you're swimming, you're buoyant, and can freely move up and down), some of the hectic racing is hindered. Paret of the joy of Sonic is to race through the level, picking up dozens of rings along the way, and while Derrick has some similar level designs, I always fly off course because I move up/down too soon. Also going through loops see my Derrick bouncing through it, rather than smoothly flowing trhough it. It takes away part of the speed magic.
Nonetheless, it's a great, great game!