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 Review: Dolphin Up (Wii U eShop)

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PostReview: Dolphin Up (Wii U eShop)

Soaring High


Dolphin Up may appear as a cute game where you take control of a lovable dolphin to perform aerial tricks, but it's actually rather deceiving. Contrary to what the game's title would have you believe, there are actually no dolphins present in the game. No, instead you can choose between three playable porpoises. Looking past this trickery however, you'll find a very addicting game that anyone who loves chasing high-scores will enjoy.


There is no story whatsoever to speak of in Dolphin Up, but considering the game's premise you can't really complain. You take control of a porpoise and are allotted two minutes to rack up as many points as possible. Gaining points is as simple as leaping out of the water to do flips, spins, and well, that's pretty much it actually. The gameplay seems shockingly simple at first, but after a few rounds you'll see that there is a lot more depth here than it would first appear. Controls are solid and maneuvering your porpoise around the ocean is very fluid. Instead of having full 360 degree control of your porpoise, you move the analog stick to the left to go up and the right to go down. It might take a few minutes to get a feel for the controls, but once you do they perform just as you would expect. The only other button used in the game is "X", which is used for doing rolls. There are various other ways to get points aside from doing spins and flips, but part of the fun is experimenting and finding these our for yourself. Using these skills you need to rack up as many points as you can in the two minutes you are provided. Combos can be chained together to multiply your score by getting successive "good entries" after a trick. To do this you simply need to position  your porpoise to dive nose first back into the water, thus increasing your speed and your score. And that's really all there is to the game. Other than the timed mode, there are tutorial and freewswim modes for practicing, but that's it. It feels very much like a mobile game in this way, being focused on high-scores and quick sessions. That's not to say it's a bad thing though, and the game is very addicting. Even after a great run you always feel like you could do just a little bit better. Helping out the addictive nature is the game's online leaderboard system which lets you compare your scores with people around the world. A small indicator if shown in game with the score just above yours on the leaderboard, pushing you to do better. The main problem with the Dolphin Up is that there just isn't that much to it. You have three porpoises and three environments to choose from, but with only one gamemode things get old pretty fast. Since each game only takes two minutes, it feels much more suited for mobile gaming where you may only be playing for a few minutes at a time; and I can't help but wonder if the 3DS would have been a better fit. Perhaps if there were some unlockables or a challenge mode of some sort it would help the variety.


Visually Dolphin Up is nothing spectacular, but it's not bad by any means. Everything is drawn in a very simple yet clean 2D environment. Nothing here is going to surprise you, but it is colorful and it does its job well enough. There is no music to speak of, which is a slight disappointment. Thankfully the sound effects are great so the lack of music isn't as noticeable. The dolphin, excuse me, porpoise noises are entertaining and the sound of fireworks going off never gets old. The menus and leaderboards are clean and simple to navigate. While they could have done a bit more with the presentation, everything here is pleasant enough to look at, though the lack of music is a tad strange.


I was pleasantly surprised by just how much fun I had while playing Dolphin Up. The core gameplay is rather simple, but there is an element of depth to it that makes it very addicting. Combined with the online leaderboards, you have a recipe for an amazing arcade style game. Unfortunately Dolphin Up suffers from a lack of variety and any sort of unlockable features. What you see is what you get here, and while it's not bad, it is a bit disappointing just how little there is to do. Your mileage may vary depending on how much you enjoy high-score style games, but if you do I definitely recommend Dolphin Up. At a lowly four dollars it's hard to complain for a few hours of mindless, addicting fun.

Verdict: 7/10

Review copy provided by: Rawkins Games
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