"Torturing Fish for Fun and Profit"
If there were any two concepts that could guarantee success in the mobile games market, they would be intuitive gameplay and animal cruelty. Angry Birds is the quintessential example of this formula, with a simple but satisfying control method for flinging kamikaze-minded fowl at their porcine enemies. Similarly, the recent success of Saving Yello is owed both to its clever design and its comically over-the-top abuse towards a small, helpless creature.
But unlike Angry Birds, Saving Yello has players work to preserve the survival of the animal in question. The titular Yello is a goldfish who, at the whim of his heartless young owner, has been for a walk. Since he can’t survive long outside of water, players are tasked with getting him back to his bowl. Unfortunately for Yello, the only way the player can do so is by flinging him through the air, and often through various obstacles. High scores can only be obtained by destroying as many of the toys in Yello’s path as possible (thus getting a degree of revenge upon the little monster who pulled him out of his home).
If the gameplay sounds similar to Angry Birds, that’s no coincidence. Saving Yello falls squarely into the casual puzzle / platformer genre, and the fish-flinging mechanic so core to the design works identically to the bird-flinging mechanic of that uber-popular franchise. If you don’t care for Angry Birds, it’s unlikely you’ll find Saving Yello more palatable. However, this flung fish has enough depth that his game does not play like a copy of Rovio Mobile’s breadwinner. Instead, it offers an interesting take on the genre that fans of puzzle-platform games will certainly enjoy.
The world of Saving Yello oozes with personality. The graphics are very sharp and colorful, and they give players a clear idea of the agony this poor fish must feel. The levels are intricate and challenging, and they become especially difficult when players are attempting to get the higher scores. Not only are there a limited number of "moves" (i.e. times the player can fling Yello to a painful crash), but the highest scores require meticulous planning, so that the fewest amount of flings destroy as much scenery as possible. There are also power-ups that maximize the abuse towards both Yello and the toys, which are difficult to get but will literally turn him into a flying fish bomb. The efficiency required is difficult to achieve, but the challenge is addictive and encourages repeat play sessions.
Accusations of plagiarism may still be levied at Saving Yello, but it’s not an mere imitation of Angry Birds. Instead, it’s a pleasing expansion of that game’s concept. If animal-flinging is now a genre, then Saving Yello takes it further by putting equal emphasis on the flung creature’s preservation. If you have ninety-nine cents of App Store credit to spare and feel the itch for a good puzzle game, Saving Yello is one of the best choices available.
GameDynamo's Score for Saving Yello (Mobile)
Neil Kapit is a freelance writer, cartoonist, and "La Li Lu Le Lo" agent based in Los Angeles. His work can be seen on www.therubynation.com.
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