At a glance...

Reviewer Platform Publisher Developer Players Screenshots
Matt Bailey Nintendo DS Sabarasa Sabarasa 1 Here
Requirements
Nintendo DSi

Save the Turtles review

Save the Turtles, Inc. is a non-profit organisation devoted to protecting endangered sea turtles. Despite sharing the same name, this charitable group has nothing to do with Sabarasa's new DSiWare game, Save the Turtles, apart from a shared love of the reptiles. The DSi-exclusive title is hectic puzzle title that has a lot more under the surface than the cute graphics would let you know.

The premise is simple; as the title says, you have to save the turtles. Baby turtles are trapped on beaches across the world, and it's your job to get them back in the seas. But before you can do that you need to use the stylus to rub the sand away to reveal the eggs. You then tap on the eggs a few times to uncover the shell of a little turtle. The puzzle element is that everything on screen is actually arranged in an invisible grid, and you need to line up three or more turtles with the same coloured shell in a row by drawing a route to their destination. Once this is achieved the tide will come in and sweep them away to safety, and then you work on lining up more turtles to meet the objective of the level. Sound easy? Well, there's quite a few extra things to consider. Man-made obstacles such as rubbish and oil spills (quite relevant right now...) are washed in from the sea and block routes. In addition there are various creations, such as crabs and seagulls, which will do their best to take the turtles away.

In addition to these challenges is another crucial one; the sun. The main reason for getting the turtles out to the sea is to protect them from the glaring heat coming from the great ball of fire in the sky. The longer they are in the sun, the more vulnerable they are, and eventually their shells catch on fire. If you want to save the turtles, you'll need to act quickly, or at least be prepared to drag some water from the sea with the stylus and cool down the little reptiles. The sun starts off low in the sky and does not prove much of an issue, but as it gets higher as the level goes on you'll have to react with even more haste, and drag across even more water. And if all that wasn't enough, there's also a clock counting down, providing you with a limited time in which to achieve the aforementioned objective. The combined mechanics and the selection of challenges make Save the Turtles an interesting and enjoyable puzzle game. It's quite addictive and manages to avoid becoming too repetitive across its 32 levels. You will, however, notice your arm wearing out from all that frantic on-screen action, and you might want to take breaks to avoid damaging your DSi screen!

The game sees you travelling over the world, although this has little impact on the gameplay or the visuals, but does provide some useful education to younger players about the location of sea turtles. In fact, Save the Turtles in general seems to have an educational message about looking after the environment and protecting this endangered species. The pretty and cartoony graphics will also appeal to children, but adults are well served by them too, as they never manage to hinder the gameplay. The only part of the presentation that is an issue is the curious lack of in-game pausing; hitting start brings up a menu to quit or restart, but the timer keeps ticking down. You'll have to close the lid of your DSi if you want the action to stop temporarily.

The 32 levels make up the main campaign which take a few hours to get through. This is, of course, assuming that you have to repeat levels a few times like I did, and suffer a bit of frustration at the game's slightly unforgiving nature in the later stages. If you make it through there's some other modes to try; Quick Play lets you try each level on three different modes of difficulty, while Tidal Wave sees the sea come in at random intervals to clear turtles, rather than just after you line up three. The last extra mode is Turtles Forever which takes away the pesky timer to rack up big scores. Overall it's a nice packing, if a little lacking in variety. But at just 500 DSi Points (that's only £4.50 in real money), you can hardly complain about such an enjoyable and adorable puzzle game.

Ratings

Overall The concepts may not be entirely original, but they are brought together in an interesting package to produce one of the most enjoyable puzzle games on DSiWare. Certainly worth picking up, especially for its low price. 8/10

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