Nov 9, 2012

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Dolphin Paradise: Wild Friends Review

Dolphin Paradise: Wild Friends Review

As an animal lover, I will try any and all pet sim games available. Dolphin Paradise: Wild Friends gives you the opportunity to own, train and care for your very own dolphin. Who would not want that?

Dolphin Paradise starts with a somewhat short tutorial. I was left feeling like I did not learn enough about the controls and menus before I was handed the reigns. Nevertheless, I began feeding my dolphin and teaching him tricks. Everything is controlled by simple taps and gestures on the screen (to perform tricks).

You have many options of what you can do with the dolphin, such as feeding him, teaching him tricks (as mentioned), care for him, add decorations to the habitat, perform shows, take pictures and share on social media and even “sell” videos or pictures of your dolphin to raise currency.

The in-game currency, shells and pearls, are needed to make purchases in-game. Purchases include new tricks and decorations; you can also use currency to perform tasks instantly instead of having to wait. Remember, this is a free game with micro-transactions. This means that there are options to wait for timers, which sometimes ask you to wait from two hours to 24 hours, or perform a task instantly by using the type of currency hardest to get. The pearls are the hardest to get in Dolphin Paradise, therefore when you try to use something that requires pearls, you are prompted with an option to purchase them.

Micro-transactions are part of the game, they may not necessarily be required to have a better experience, but they certainly will speed up the process and make it easier. Knowing that, I still feel as if the game puts on the pressure early on. You can run out of currency, both pearls and shells, rather quickly and only get about ten to twenty minutes of gametime per day before you run out completely.

Still, the game does employ some interesting ways to keep you interested. The “goals” system supplies you with a tool to keep track of goal progress and makes doing the normal petting, feeding, training feel like less of a chore and more as if you are working towards something. The same can be said about achieving “mastery” levels of tricks. Gain levels of tricks and level your dolphin simultaneously to unlock even more tricks and items. These appeal to the completest in me and I do not want to stop leveling.

The graphics of Dolphin Paradise are not trying to be realistic, and that is probably for the best. With the target audience likely being made up of young children, the game does not have to be realistic. My favorite graphical feature of the game is anything underwater. I think HappyGiant did a beautiful job with the water and the reflections of the sun on the sandy floor. The graphics of the game are demanding on the iPad, however, and can lag at times. This can cause a trick to be missed because the touch controls may not read correctly.

An additional issue I had in-game was the menu system. It can become convoluted and confusing quickly. Each tap opens a new window, and then you have to close each window previously opened. I was easily getting confused about which menu needed to be open to do certain things. It becomes even more confusing when you add in the fact that there are essentially two menus for tricks and multiple menus for other options, as well. While one may be to purchase tricks and the other to perform tricks, it is not exactly clear. The menus just need to be better organized.

Overall, Dolphin Paradise is a good time killer for a child in your home. If you decide to play it, be prepared to be bored or willing to spend some real money on in-game currency.

Dolphin Paradise: Wild Friends
Platform: iPad (reviewed), iPhone 4S, iPhone 5
Genre: SIM
Release Date: October 2012
Developer: HappyGiant
Publisher: HappyGiant
iTunes Rating: 4+
MSRP: Free