I make a habit of supporting indie developers when I can and I’ve had the chance to meet a few when working with the other site I write for, NerdMentality.com. Greg Eckemann, an indie developer, has been really excited in the forums there about a game he created called Manatee! (note: it appears as Manate! in the Apple Store). Although the game has been available for a bit, I held off on taking a look until some promised updates were delivered this week.
Manatee! is an action puzzle game in which you must guide your manatee around a map and collect all the kelp before a timer runs out. You move the manatee by tapping where you want it go. If it sounds simple, it’s because it is. At least at first. As you progress through the game, more obstacles and dangers start appearing like rocks and motorboats. I call it a puzzle game because it challenges you to pick the most efficient path so that you can beat the timer. Movement wasted by going one direction then having to come completely back is a surefire way to lose the game. Combine that strategic element with timing your movements around the dangers and you have yourself a solid, little game.
Now there were a few things that I thought were lacking. Aside from the main screen music, there’s not really much sound in the game. So far all I’ve heard are the sailors that appear about half a dozen or more levels into the game. They speak, but when there’s more than one the repeated lines can get a little annoying. The high score list entry appears to be broken as entering a name doesn’t seem to insert it into the list. Greg’s done a good job supporting the game so far and has plans to release further updates with additional sounds and a fix for the high score entry.
For 99 cents, it’s not a bad deal and it runs on both the iPhone and iPad, though I played it on the latter. It’s a charming game and fun despite its flaws. Would I have bought the game if I hadn’t known the developer beforehand? Maybe not, but I’m glad I did. The game shows a lot of promise from a developer trying to break into the field. I believe indie developers need all the courage and support they can get and it’s fun seeing how their labor of love improves over time.
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