The idea behind the TouchArcade Game of the Week is that every Friday afternoon we post the one game that came out this week that we think is worth giving a special nod to. Now, before anyone goes over-thinking this, it doesn’t necessarily mean our Game of the Week pick is the highest scoring game in a review, the game with the best graphics, or really any other quantifiable “best" thing. Instead, it’s more just us picking out the single game out of the week’s releases that we think is the most noteworthy, surprising, interesting, or really any other hard to describe quality that makes it worth having if you were just going to pick up one.
These picks might be controversial, and that’s OK. If you disagree with what we’ve chosen, let’s try to use the comments of these articles to have conversations about what game is your game of the week and why.
Without further ado…
I always love when I’m not expecting too much from a game but it ends up knocking my socks off anyway. The latest example of this is Super Starfish (Free) from Australian developer Protostar. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I expected the fine folks at Protostar to put out a subpar game or anything, but when we initially posted the trailer for Super Starfish earlier this month, it seemed like a cute but extremely simple arcade avoidance game, which is just fine, but not necessarily mind blowing. The developers even admitted that the entire reason they ended up making Super Starfish was because they were messing around with fluid simulations and thought they looked cool, so decided to go from there. I thought, “Cool a tech demo with a little arcade game attached. That will be a perfectly adequate thing."
Well shame on me because I underestimated both Super Starfish and the folks who made it. Yes this is a very simple arcade game at its core, and yes there’s a heavy emphasis on the trippy fluid animations happening everywhere, but dang it all if this isn’t one of the most polished games I’ve played in a while, and in the face of some quality releases this week Super Starfish is the one I can’t help but keep coming back to. I should have known. Protostar made Sling Kong (Free) a few years ago and I was absolutely obsessed with that clever, and yes highly polished, little game. In fact Super Starfish feels like a very close cousin to Sling Kong in many ways.
The core gameplay is sliding left and right on the screen to move your character and avoid the many hazards you’ll come across as you fly through space. It’s very easy to play with one thumb, and the further you go the faster and more difficult the hazards become. Along the way you’ll collect stars which act as your score, as well as golden seashells (spaceshells?) which you can use to play a mini-game that lets you both earn more shells and potentially unlock one of the game’s MANY playable characters. Like Sling Kong, the characters are split into different tiers based on creature type. The mini-game itself is sort of an upside-down version of the one in Sling Kong, basically a reverse gravity game of pachinko.
In a cool touch the playable characters that you unlock are all based on real life creatures, and when you unlock one you get a little card displaying some actual facts about the real version. Beyond collecting characters you can also unlock various items to decorate the hub area of the game, which is more or less a space aquarium (spacequarium?). This too is surprisingly more fun than I imagined and gives you yet another thing to collect. Finally when you reach certain milestones while playing, you’ll unlock new types of environments each with their own snapshot which is yet another thing you can collect. All these collectibles are handily kept track of in an album, so completionists like myself have a guide on which gaps they need to fill in. This all adds up to giving a nice sense of progression to what would otherwise just be a high score chaser arcade game.
Oh and those fluid simulations? They’re actually quite stunning. It’s sort of an oil mixed with water effect, or like if you’ve ever put sunscreen on and then gotten into a pool, and there’s that oily discharge that gets left on the surface of the water. It’s like that, but crazy colorful. For being something that’s totally superfluous to the actual gameplay, I sure do get a lot of enjoyment out of admiring all the pretty swirlies everywhere. This game just has charm and polish in spades, so if you’re like me and underestimated Super Starfish based on its trailer, definitely give it a try and see if it speaks to you as it does me. It’s free with the only IAP being for more in-game currency, and the only ads being one you opt-in to to get more of said in-game currency. Definitely will be my go-to time killer game for the foreseeable future.