Derrick the Deathfin's stylish adventure through the ocean is packed full of charm, if not a lot of content.
- Beautiful papercraft visuals
- Funky trip-hop soundtrack
- Well-designed, challenging levels
- Lots of collectibles.
- Only local leaderboards
- Imprecise controls
- Over too quickly.
Derrick is a shark. And like many sharks, he has an appetite that's never satisfied. But while the sharks of the real world won't flop over and die if they miss a meal, Derrick's life hangs by a thread with each missed mouthful. That's not an easy life for a fish--despite being at the top of the food chain--particularly when, as you discover, his parents are turned into seafood by an evil organisation intent on polluting the world's oceans. And what beautiful oceans they are: intricate, handmade papercraft oceans that are as bright and colourful as the likes of SpongeBob's Bikini Bottom, but with a playful imagination and design all their own. Derrick certainly doesn't want them turned into sludgy, rotten wastelands.
Fortunately, Derrick's shark ancestry gives him quite the advantage when it comes to roaming the world's 2D, side-scrolling oceans. He can chow down on the many inhabitants of the sea with ease, with the delightful papercraft crabs, fish, squid, and other creatures disappearing in a puff of smoke. He's fast too, and by holding down the right trigger you can make him even faster and gracefully leap out of the ocean like a modern-day Ecco the Dolphin. Such manoeuvres are tricky to master, though. There's an impreciseness to Derrick's movements that means you're never in total control of his actions; it's all too easy to swim straight past or leap right over a group of delicious sea creatures.
And that's not something you want to do too often. With each flick of a fin, a health bar at the top of the screen depletes, and quickly too. As you roam around each level, trying to make it to the finish line on the other side, you must eat constantly; go too long without a meal, and it's lights out for Derrick. It's that constant pressure to survive that makes navigating the well-designed mazelike courses a serious challenge. Eat everything in sight too quickly, and you might leave yourself without enough food to make it to the end of the level. If you take a wrong turn down a tunnel, only to reach a dead end, you might not have enough energy to swim your way back again.
There are a few things around to help you out, though. Trails of pink diamonds to collect often point you in the right direction, as well as double up as food for Derrick. They're one type of collectible found in each level, the other being giant tires that float above the surface of the water, ready for you to skilfully leap through as they burst into flames. Collectibles are totalled at the end of each level, giving you a score that's placed on a leaderboard, albeit a local one. They unlock new areas too, including fun fast-paced levels that are based on speed, which shun the health bar for a time bar that ticks down quickly as you make your way through each maze.
The evil corporation gets a dose of Derrick thanks to small puzzle levels where you have to blow up an oil rig or take down a mighty trawler. But these sections are more of a missed opportunity than a break from the fast-paced action. Puzzles are painfully easy to solve and often just involve nudging a few bomb-fish around until they're in just the right place to explode. Indeed, there's a lack of depth to much of Derrick's adventures. Every level lasts just a few minutes, and you can easily make your way through all 32 of them in a single sitting--a little longer if you hunt down all the collectibles.
It's a format that lends itself greatly to mobile--a fact that's referenced in loading screens--but it works less well here. As fun as many of the levels are, you don't ever feel like you're getting enough of them, even if you go back and replay them, as the collectibles compel you to do. But that's not enough to discount Derrick the Deathfin. The beauty of its colourful visuals, the wonderful trip-hop soundtrack, and the compelling, enjoyable levels create an utterly charming package that's big on imagination, if just a little short on execution.
I bought this game day one because it was discounted for PS+ members at $5 and looked like a great change of pace. And while I do have to agree that it is indeed fairly fun and definitely original, I thought the controls almost kind of ruined it. If you don't hold down the speed button, you go too slow to do a lot of things like jumping a significant distance to destroy the tires, but if you do hold it down it acts almost as if there suddenly isn't any friccin friction anymore. You just end up sliding across the whole map and become too inaccurate to do precise tasks like collecting the little pink-triangles that are out of the water. And then as you repeatedly attempt those objectives you also have to worry about your health draining as well...which can deplete in less than 15 seconds or so if left unattended. And the fact food doesn't respawn makes it all the more infuriating at times. But yeah, still pretty fun though, and has absolutely awesome graphics in every way. The music is pretty good too, and it has a likable sense of humor on top of it all. I actually gave this the same rating, so for once Gamespot and I agree about something.
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@Gelugon_baat I know I'm falling for painfully obvious flamebait here, but my mindset of having to respond to practically anybody who leaves me a response says that I should just say that I almost never agree with any of Gamespot's reviews, but I'm like you and still respect the reviewer's opinions and don't call them out for even the most minuscule complaints-which a friend of mine who also agrees with the site around the same consistency I do has a very hard time doing. So I simply added the last part to say I found it awesome we both gave the same score. And before you ask about why I even use GS if I rarely agree with them, the reason is because I like seeing the differences in reviewer's opinions, mainly GS's and Gameinformer's. Not in a negative, belittling way so I can say which reviewer has the totally obvious and glorified correct score once I play whichever game I'm looking at the scores for, but really only for the sole purpose that I find which editor disagrees over one part of a certain game while the other praises it/is indifferent towards it interesting. Now to wait for the inevitable flame war between me and you...
@Naylord Considering it got a discount for PS Plus members and wasn't a full-blown freebie, it probably won't be any time soon.