On the Silver Screen:
This CG-animated fish story is less Finding Nemo and more...finding Nemo's head in your bed 'cause you wronged the Don. OK, this lighthearted gangland fable isn't actually that violent, but voice work from Robert De Niro, Will Smith, Jack Black, and most of the Sopranos cast should make it adult friendly.
On Your TV:
You control Oscar, a spirited young fish (voiced by Will Smith) working his way up the food chain in the gritty, underwater world of organized crime in Reef City. While Shark Tales is not quite as brutal as, say, Vice City, you'll still careen around comers in aquatic cars and bust up some fools with expert fish fu.
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Lately it seems that movie motivated games have been breaking the mold, delivering solid and creative games as opposed to the 'get it out the door as cheap and quick as possible'? method that seemed common for years. Shark Tale unfortunately swims in neutral waters as it falls way short of other recent movie motivated games such as Spiderman 2 but isn't as bad as many we've seen in the past.
Shark Tale is essentially a bunch of mini-games strung together across 25 chapters. The mini-games fall into a few different varieties such as dancing where you push the d-pad in the appropriate direction at the right time or searching a fish city for specific characters. Most of these games are straightforward and almost too easy plus a few can be downright frustrating. Overall however, they will engage you enough to at least offer a minimum amount of entertainment and the different games help to keep things moving. When a mini-games is completed, you are treated to a cut scene that unfolds the plot so there is some incentive to finish the mini-games.
The graphics are actually well done and do a good job of mimicking the animation from the movie while the audio offers some nice soundtracks and voice-overs. Really, if Shark Tale stumbled here this whole game would have fallen apart as the gameplay by itself just isn't strong enough to keep this game afloat.
Shark Tale puts forth a reasonable effort but don't expect much from the gameplay. The mini-games are generally shallow but still somewhat entertaining. Shark Tale would probably make a decent rental and only huge fans of the movie will be satisfied with a purchase.
DreamWorks most recent animated blockbuster has made it to the PC. In your role as Oscar, you'll take to the 'streets'? of Reef City trying to find the fame and fortune you so richly deserve. This title features a plot directly from the movie interspersed with action, task-driven scenarios and a little Dance Dance Revolution thrown in for good measure. But all in all, is Shark Tale a fun, intriguing blend of action and adventure, or just another blah PC game trying to ride the coattails of the movie's popularity
Controlling Oscar is an exercise in simplicity, as you can move almost completely with mouse controls. Though Reef City can be a bit confusing at first entry, the simple interface makes getting around town and interacting with the environment quite simple. Graphics are quite good for this style of game, and look very similar to the characters from the film. The soundtrack is, of course, urban, but with a not-so-subtle 90's feel from time to time, and isn't actually as bad as I first expected.
There's a lot not to like, though. As with all games of this variety, i.e. make a game out of a movie that everyone's already seen, there's no real payoff. You know what's going to happen. It's also excruciatingly simple to play and complete. Twenty minutes into the game and I'd already cleared the first two areas and had filled up both my apartment and penthouse with goods. And let's not spend any time getting into my opinion of the voice acting: if the dialogue from the film was this bad, I don't know if I could handle it.
All in all, Shark Tale is just another mediocre film knock off of a game, one good for only about an hour or two of light, mindless fun. While somewhat entertaining for a younger crowd and fans of the film, even the most casual older gamers might want to pass this one up.
Shark Tale is a strange amalgamation. It has fighting, racing, questing and dancing. It's at times simplistic enough for children, but at others difficult enough to capture the attention of older games. Amaze Studios seemed to have set out to create a game that was all things to all people, but never managed to perfect any single element of the game. What you are left with is something that at times is too easy to play, jumps between genres too quickly to ever reach interesting and seems endowed more with a spastic energy than a frenetic one.
In the game you take on the roll of Shark Tale lead Oscar as he attempts to make some cash and become famous. The game starts out with an extraordinarily easy game of tap the D-pad. A huge shark is chasing you and all you have to do to avoid it is push your controller in the direction of a big arrow that flashes on the screen. The game seems easy and colorful enough for my son to enjoy, but in the second chapter (there are 25 in all) is a much more complex exploring game where you have to do an assortment of things to collect cash and stop some kids from vandalizing the city.
The constant change in difficulty level and style of play continues like this throughout the game. This is what makes Shark Tale both unique and in some ways captivating, but also mildly irritating. The game's play can be broken down into four basic styles of game. There's the race mode where you are trying to dash through a swarming sea trying to beat a boss or bad guy to a location. The fight mode is a simplistic boxer-style game that allows you to duck, weave and head-butt to your heart's content. The adventure mode is a basic 3D side-scroller putting you through your paces as you hunt for items and try to avoid damage. Finally, there's the dance mode, my personal favorite, which has you matching moves with Oscar as he gets down to an impressive selection of music. The dance mode even supports a dance pad, which is pretty cool.
The game's chief problem isn't in its switching between game play modes with each chapter, that's actually one of the saving graces of the game. No, the chief problem is with its inconsistent difficulty settings. The range literally had me thinking it was a game suited for pre-schoolers at times and then moments later cursing under my breath as I messed up. It's fine to fluctuate difficulty in a game, but when you make it so simplistic and easy, it can get very annoying at times.
The game's graphic presentation is fairly dead-on, mimicking the animated movie almost perfectly, but it was the soundtrack that really stands out in this game. I sure hope they sell this game's soundtrack one day, it featured Carwash, Bad Boys, Summertime, Can't Touch This and other great classics. It's one of the things that made the dance mode so much fun.
If it weren't for the far too simple modes in the game, Shark Tale would be passable fun for adults. Where this game really dropped the ball was by making much of the game far too hard to play for the younger audience that would be likely drawn to its colorful characters.