Previews

Gamescom '11: Hands-on with Squids for iPhone, iPad, and Android

A turn-based, Angry Birds, Worms, Final Fantasy game? Sounds fishy

Gamescom '11: Hands-on with Squids for iPhone, iPad, and Android
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| Squids

The Game Bakers’s debut iOS title has been a long time in the oven. Having spent over ten years at Ubisoft, working on franchises such as Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six, this small five-man team has split away to form its own independent games studio.

The first title to come out of this extended gestation period is the rather eye-catching Squids – a title that mixes the approachable controls of something like Angry Birds with the more in-depth gameplay of Final Fantasy Tactics.

Let me explain.

This is your first and only warning

Gameplay is split into turns, with each of your crack team of four squid able to move a certain amount before their energy runs out. The sides of the maps are often sheer drops-o’-doom, so any mis-step means goodbye to either your troops or the enemy’s.

Rather than use squares to move your men/fish, Squids relies on you pulling back your chosen character and pinging him across the playing area, knocking into enemies and damaging them on impact.

The harder you pull back, the more movement points you use, while different characters have different ranges (yes, the big fat heavy one doesn’t travel very far – good guess).

Having said that, the big heavy one may have a unique ability, such as slamming an area, that could come in handy in battle.

He's quite handy, actually

The four that make up your team can be customised in looks as well as stats, with levels gained by winning pearls from the black, magic ooze-infected undersea enemies.

There will be at least twice as many characters to choose from as you start with at launch, with yet more planned down the line in updates.

The game runs fast and feels almost frantic, thanks in no small part to some ingenious level design that throws your units (and your enemy’s) into the fray quickly via water chutes and other short-cuts.

Once there, clever use of environmental obstacles such as urchins and those aforementioned unprotected drops off the side of the map can swing a battle back in your favour in the blink of an eye.

Squids is an unusual game, blending several apparently incompatible genres together. But somehow it seems to work.

It’ll certainly be one to watch out for when it launches on iPhone in October, with iPad and Android versions expected to follow shortly after.