Adapting popular retro video games to modern platforms is always tricky. However, when done right, it becomes a time capsule for new players, giving them a glimpse of what gaming used to be, and for veterans, it becomes a nostalgia-heavy experience that allows them to retrospect and relive those moments in the best possible way.
Shark! Shark! is one such experience. It's a solid adaptation of the 1982 Intellivision classic that features better visuals, controls, and background score while retaining the challenging nature of the original.
Shark! Shark! Overview & Gameplay
In Shark! Shark! you play as a fish in various underwater levels, where you must feed on other smaller fishes to grow and gain points to win. As you grow, your speed increases, allowing you to cover more distances quickly and eat bigger fish to gain even more points. For instance, eating the smallest fish will get you 25 points, whereas eating a seahorse will get you 75 points.
There are four game modes in Shark! Shark!. These are Voyage, Versus, Multiplayer, and High Score. The Voyage is the campaign mode, where completing levels will unlock new areas. The Versus is basically couch co-op, where you can play with up to three more players. The Multiplayer is pretty self-explanatory, in which you can invite other players to play online. Do note that a Game Pass subscription is required to play on Xbox devices. The High Score Mode is where you can play alone or with friends to compete in the leaderboard.
The Voyage Mode features three different areas, and each consists of four levels, which you need to finish to unlock the next one. These are Coral Reef, Pirate Lagoon, and Sunken City.
As you progress, the levels become increasingly challenging while the number of lives you get decreases. In the good old Arcadey way, the last few levels demand absolute agility and precision, and I loved how much it ignited the "oh, I have to beat this!" spirit inside me.
Your primary foe in Shark! Shark! is - you guessed it - a mean old Shark. The Shark is like Mr. X from Resident Evil, who randomly appears in every level to chase you. It's hard to avoid it since it quickly moves back and forth and will gobble you up in the blink of an eye. However, it's not impossible to escape it, and if you're feeling brave enough, you can bite its tail to gain a whopping 200 points. If you want to climb the leaderboard, biting back the shark is the best way to do it.
Aside from the Great White Shark, you won't find any major obstacles in your way. Every level features a formidable sea creature, but they are nothing more than mere distractions. The Octopus covers the screen in black goo that temporarily hinders your visibility but shouldn't be too hard to escape. The eel can electrocute you, but its movements are slow and easy to avoid.
As you make progress, you will unlock more varieties of fish. There are not many options available, but I love that you can change their color to your liking. My favorite is the pink-colored Mandarin!
Shark!Shark! isn't a massive 50+ hours experience, and while I would have liked to try my hands on a few more levels, what's here is a lot of fun. I especially enjoyed playing the Versus Mode with a friend with the "Eat Friends" option enabled, where we both had to worry about facing an actual shark and an extremely erratic shark role-player.
Shark! Shark! Verdict (4/5)
Shark! Shark! is a nostalgic and endearing experience that's a lot of fun to play. While the Voyager mode ends more quickly than I would have liked to, I was always eager to climb the leaderboard and challenge other players in the world or indulge in a shark role-playing contest with a friend in a game of couch co-op.
Most importantly, if you're an achievement hunter, Shark! Shark! is something you should definitely keep an eye out for, as you can garner 1,000 Gamescore in just a handful of hours.
The review copy was provided by the publisher.