Developer: Hiptic
Price: FREE
Version Reviewed: 1.3.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆
Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

You wouldn’t think it, but the offspring of a dog and a shark is actually extremely adorable. That’s the very first thing I learned from Hiptic’s (Go Ninja!) adorable new IP Diver Dogs, which pits puppies against the evil Rocktopi who have kidnapped some of the cutest canines around and have plunged them deep underwater near their bases. It’s your job to band together with D.E.R.P., or the Deep-sea Emergency Rescue Patrol (get it?), to make sure these cute little puppies are safe from harm. And it’s actually quite fun!

diver2Dive underwater and choose one of three dogs, each with its own special skill – toughness, range, or speed – and head out into the ocean to collect three puppies per level within a specific time limit. Using the left and right sides of the screen, you need to angle your D.E.R.P. unit to boost through the underwater nooks and crannies to pick up the puppies. Sometimes the Rocktopi will come out of hiding to grab onto you, slowing you down and impeding you from continuing. You have to either shake them off or boost away in order to keep going, which is simple at first, but absolutely frustrating in later levels.

As such, it becomes quite difficult to earn three stars by rescuing all three pups by the later levels. Luckily there are power-ups, light and fun banter between you and D.E.R.P. headquarters, and more adorable puppies to inspire you to keep going. The controls can be a bit fiddly though, and getting the hang of controlling each pooch can be a challenge. You never stop moving, so altering your course with left and right taps requires some finesse. You also need to do this quickly, so don’t expect that you’ll be collecting all three puppies in one go during your first run-through.

diver3Completing missions will net you credits, which you can spend on customizable items. Your puppy will also earn experience points, so the more you play, the higher levels you can gain. Skills receive enhancements so you can up your puppy-rescuing game, making the somewhat frustrating controls a little easier to deal with in the end.

Diver Dogs is an adorable little adventure with plenty of charm (especially the design of the dogs themselves), and with a premise that I’ve certainly not seen before. It’s not a “hardcore” title by any means, but it’s a fun and refreshing set of missions that you’ll be pleasantly surprised by, especially if you’re an animal lover like me.

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