As some of you may be aware, I too got so wrapped up in Steam Summer Sale hype this week that I finally broke down and registered for my own Steam account. And of course, once I had an account, I had to get some games. And seeing that Critter Crunch, which I’d played as a demo on PS3 but was too poor/lazy/cheap to but on that format; was on sale for $1.46, I decided to buy it and do a little review for you.
Developed and published by Toronto’s Capybara Games, Critter Crunch does fall under the banner of “casual games,” but its unique take on familiar mechaniques, crazy kawaii art style and goofy sense of humour help it stand out from the match 3 crowd.
Structured as a sort of faux-documentary on the curious dietary habits of the inhabitants of “Crunchatoa Island,” you play as Biggs a happy little armless fluff-ball who bears more than a passing resemblance to a certain Japanese neighbor. There are several modes to the game, the primary being Story Modes, where you play to unlock all 7 areas on the map. There are also a Puzzle, Challenge and Survival modes, although I have yet to unlock the Survival mode. I’m assuming this will happen once I complete Story Mode to give the game some replayability.
As I hinted at earlier, Critter Crunch is based on the basic match 3 mechanic of most popular puzzle games (Bejeweled, Candy Crunch Saga), however, instead of just mindlessly shuffling objects around until the colours match up you actually have to swallow and then spit up “critters” in order to make them pop. When a critter pops, either by being fed two critters smaller than it, or being at the top of a food chain (successively large critter arranged in a row), all the surrounding critters of the same size and shape pop, clearing that space. Popping critters also releases jewels, which are actually what Biggs is really after, with larger combos producing larger jewels for Biggs to munch on.
However, what really sets Critter Crunch apart is their dedication to that fine line of kawaii & gross. Case in point, when you produce a combo of 8 critters or more, your son will appear. You will need to feed your son in order to incur bonuses. And just how do you do this? You barf rainbows into his mouth. Duh.
While not especially challenging in terms of reflexes or hand-eye coordination, some of the Puzzle Mode levels are rather diabolical and solving them will make you feel like a champion. The bite-size of most levels makes Critter Crunch a perfect little time waster or a good brain break to re-energize your workday. All in all, I give it an enthusiastic recommendation!