App Reviewed on: iPhone 4
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Outwardly, HungrySquid looks like an intelligent puzzle game. Its six-sided take on Pipe Mania, in which players rotate rings of pipe-containing blocks to make a path for ooze to run out from the hexagonal grid's centre, seems like a Killer Sudoku twist on a beloved classic. HungrySquid, though, is not quite as smart as it looks. Or it's just trying too hard.
The problem is that it tries to overcomplicate a rather simple mechanic. Hexagons aside, this is essentially Pipe Mania except you set the path before you tap the squid to release the ooze. So in fact it's almost easier than Pipe Mania, and maybe that's why the developers threw in a bevy of external factors to try and mix things up. There are point bonuses for tapping blocks where the ooze paths intersect, for making multiple exits out of the grid, for quickly tapping highlighted blocks after the ooze is released - and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Crucially, however, points aren't needed for progress (the only requirement is to get the ooze out of the grid) so all the external faff seems just like exactly that - external faff.
Then again, for the kind of iOS gamer who likes to three-star every single puzzle, HungrySquid's complexity means it can offer plenty to occupy. It takes multiple goes, very quick fingers, and a great deal of alertness to score enough points to three-star the very first puzzle, let alone all 60. Well integrated achievements, leaderboards, and a crisp, welcoming presentation all mean that the more longstanding, dextrous gamers may be the ones who enjoy this the most.
Still, it feels like if HungrySquid had just been cranked down a notch rather than up it could be one of the iOS classics. Unfortunately, there's so much going on that it steps on its own toes somewhat. And I've managed to get this far without saying that it oozes potential, so there's that.