Version Reviewed: 1.0.5
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2, iPod touch 4
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Chuck Darwin's Extinction Squad is Adult Swim Games and PikPok's modernized version of the classic Game and Watch game Parachute. One of history's most polarizing scientific figures, Charles Darwin, has been repurposed as a gruff wildlife rescuer, out to save endangered species from people who wish to destroy them. With giant bombs that fall from the sky. He has a rather intelligent design to get this job done: he decides to put his two nameless lackeys in harm's way, carrying a trampoline to bounce them to safety.
Some animals just require one bounce to get in the vehicle, while lions and pandas require multiple bounces. Avoiding the bombs that periodically fall from the sky is key to surviving long enough to pick up high scores in either the game's endless Adventure mode, or in its single-locale, time-limited, Countdown mode.
The game follows the Jetpack Joyride model very closely: there are coins to be earned which can unlock more powerups, though here new levels can also be unlocked. These require a lot of coins, which means either earning them or buying them through IAP outright. The former goes to two extremes: either really slowly (as it may appear early on, though longer play sessions toss out a lot more coins) or really quickly through the completion of objectives, which hand out hundreds of coins at once. Of course, the latter method provides not just straight-up coin bundles, but a coin doubler and even tripler to help unlock new stuff even more quickly.
Surprisingly, the game is not actually tilt-controlled as I initially expected, but actually controlled by touch at the bottom of the screen. It works very well, with a slight offset between the finger and characters on screen.
The whole game is charmingly goofy, with extremely detailed animation. For a game about rescuing endangered animals, there's no direct punishment for letting them fall to their death, though in Countdown mode they will make it harder to get the requisite number of animals in Chuck Darwin's jeep before the timer runs out. Still, there's a comedy in trying to bounce a giant whale up in the air for as long as possible before it violently and cartoonishly explodes its guts everwhere.
Adventure game sessions can feel like they drag on for a while, especially early on when there's a lack of variety in locales and animals to bounce around. Once some more locales are unlocked, and more coins are handed out, the game starts to feel a lot more fun, though the sessions can run a bit long in Adventure mode for pick-up-and-play gameplay.
Chuck Darwin's Extinction Squad is over the top in all the right ways, and it's fantastic because of it. The animation and great controls make this a fun use of $0.99.