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Sea Stars is a great new endless runner, or rather an endless “swimmer,” from Hothead Games. It takes several cues from Halfbrick’s excellent Jetpack Joyride on iOS, which I would really love for them to port to Android already so you guys can know what I’m talking about when I reference it. This is a bright and colorful game full of cute characters and fun mechanics, and best of all, it’s entirely free. Unfortunately, they really push the in-app purchases in your face, and this game would be nearly perfect if they didn’t.
You play Dante the Dolphin and his various seafaring friends, helping them avoid danger as they swim the ocean blue. The screen is split through the middle between water and air, and this makes for some interesting mechanics. Usually you’ll touch the screen in order to move one way, and move in the opposite direction when not touching it. In this game, you automatically float near the surface of the water, and must press the screen to swim down. Releasing it will send you up, allowing you to jump out of the water. The lower you go before jumping, the higher your jump will be. I really liked this unique way to move through the environment.
The sea is littered with jellyfish enemies that must be avoided, but also with plenty of friendly creatures who help you on your way. If you’re able to collect the random starfish power-ups, you’ll be helped out by a random sea creature, such as a flying whale or gliding crab, who act as your vehicle until you’re hit. Performing seven high jumps in a row also summons the rainbow birds, who clear the way for you and drop oodles of coins. High jumps are extremely risky though, as once you’re out of the water, you can’t do much to avoid a potentially dangerous landing. The game also employs a mission objective leveling system for some added depth.
So the gameplay itself is all well and good, and extremely similar to Jetpack Joyride, but they really kind of kill it with the pushy IAP. The coins you collect are used to buy new playable Sea Stars as well as new levels, but they’re also used to buy temporary boosts and bonuses, and everything is just ridiculously overpriced. It will take you several hours to save up for anything even remotely expensive, and unfortunately everything is around the same price range. There are no low priced items to get while you work your way towards higher priced ones. I know the game is free anyway, but the way they went about this is just really frustrating. Aside from all that, the game looks great, sounds great, and is still a lot of fun. I still recommend everyone try this one out.