[Next-Gen Gamers is a feature where I explore the world of gaming through the eyes of my kids – literally the next generation of gamers, raised in a house that promotes playing together and sharing our time! It’ll look at games that appeal to kids more than adults, as well as those that are great for both, either through cooperative play or controller sharing.]
I’ve talked a lot about Wii and Wii U games here; that’s probably because my son’s gaming life has, for the most part, centered around these systems. He’s branched out a bit here and there, and I wanted to swing around and touch on something he’s probably more into than I am – mobile games. Whether playing on our tablet or my phone – both Android devices – he loves mobile games for their quick pick-up-and-play style, and he’ll happily burn through a couple of hours and our battery life for just about anything we throw on there. The most recent of these is Hungry Shark Evolution by Future Games of London.
As the title suggests, Hungry Shark Evolution puts you in control of a shark – a hungry one, even! You swim freely around a pretty sizeable ocean map, chomping down on multitudes of various fish, swimmers, scuba divers, enemy sharks, and other sea life in a constant quest to sate your hunger and gather points, coins, and jewels. Along the way, you face dangerous obstacles and enemies while growing your shark to unlock new sharks, new evolution upgrades, and a long list of zany shark accessories to either help you achieve more points or simply to trick yourself out in a plethora of weird, fun add-ons.
As with most mobile games, the kiddo’s introduction to this was peering over a shoulder and asking, “What’s that?” From there, it was mere minutes before he was asking how to earn a chance to play for himself and take to the seas, devouring all in his path. The tilt-based controls are a bit weird, but he got the hang of them quickly – more quickly than I did, to be entirely honest. On his first go, he bested his mom’s survival time handily; it was love at first bite. He became instantly consumed with completing challenges and amassing coins to get whatever shark was next in line. From the meager reef shark to the potent great white, he wanted nothing more than to push onward and get to the next level. He put aside his other gaming needs, and asked only for this upon completing his daily game-earning deeds (homework, reading, and some basic chores); he’d start the day asking if we’d played any while he slept, and if we’d unlocked anything new for him to try out if we had.
I’d say I asked him directly what he likes (or doesn’t) from this game, but I didn’t have to. His loquacious praises for it supplied more than enough ammunition; he loves the level progress, variety of sharks, and multitude of accessory add-ons to dress up each toothy ocean killer. He’s not so fond of the larger enemy sharks, though he likes the idea of them – seeing a megalodon while you’re out hunting for sunken treasure is terrifying, but knowing they’re there is great, I guess. He doesn’t mind that the controls are imperfect or that certain sharks just aren’t big enough to tackle some enemies, and he’s infatuated with the idea of eventually playing as the fabled megalodon – he’s even asked us questions about the creature’s theoretical real-life counterpart.
I have to admit, aside from some hilariously bad sound that’s reminiscent of some much older arcade-style games, and the fact that this beast is a battery’s worst nightmare given flesh, Hungry Shark Evolution is easily one of the best mobile games I’ve played, so I understand why he’s so enamored with it. There’s a lot of things that are nigh-unattainable without spending some actual money on microtransactions to purchase jewels or coins, but he’s undeterred by the sheer volume needed and maintains a wonderful youthful optimism about getting these “someday.” The jewels, in particular, are hard to come by, naturally – not to say they can’t be found, but I don’t think I’ve ever had more than 5, and some of these unlockables require 300 or more. But, full list of unlockable items at his disposal or no, he’s happy to take any opportunity to plunge into the briny deep and commit acts of oceanic genocide — which, as long as it’s confined to a game, is just fine with me.