Combine an adorable animated puffer fish with a snappy soundtrack and the premise of a simple arcade game and you have Pudge. Similar to iCopter, but with far better graphics, Pudge utilizes one-touch controls to move a puffer fish through an underwater cave, avoiding obstacles along the way.

The controls for Pudge are simple; touch the screen and Pudge goes up, stop touching the screen and Pudge goes down. As you navigate Pudge through his cave you have to avoid hitting the protruding stalagmites, jellyfish, squid, and whatever else Pudge encounters. All of these obstacles will prove deadly, not just injurious, to little Pudge and a single encounter ends the game.

Though the controls are a simple enough concept, it’s a concept that is frustrating the first several dozen times you try this game. The fish rapidly sinks to the bottom or jets to the top with each touch or absence of touch and at first it seems impossible to navigate him farther than three inches into his cave. However, as the control becomes a bit more familiar, frustration is taken over by challenge — the challenge to get more than two feet into the cave before fatally crashing into a jellyfish.

Two-player split screenIn addition to the single player game, Pudge has a two-player mode as well. The premise is the same as one-player mode, except that instead of seeing how far you can go into the cave, you are simply trying to out swim your opponent. The two-player version utilizes a split screen so both people play simultaneously on the same device. Who ever lasts the longest in Pudge’s two-player mode is awarded a coin that signifies the win.

There are a couple of other features that are unexpected in Pudge including the ability to adjust the sound levels for the background music and the sound effects individually. Each game is also unique in that a restart will present obstacles in a different order, making it difficult to memorize and more challenging to play.

Binary Hammer, the game’s developer also claims Pudge has a never-ending cave. I certainly wouldn’t know if that were true as my fish doesn’t get very far, but I do know I would prefer to have three fish to kill before the game ends. As it is, it becomes a little frustrating — especially in the beginning —trying to master the one-touch navigation of Pudge through such a tight little area only to have him die so quickly and subsequently have to start the game all over.

Go watch the youtube video if you’d like to see a demo of Pudge in action. The first minute shows off the options, but the gameplay starts about 50 seconds in.

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