Sharknado was one of the stranger pop-culture phenomena of 2013. Originally shown on the Syfy cable channel, the TV-movie's absurd concept — thousands of sharks flying through the air to attack Los Angeles — attracted millions of viewers for the premiere. Sharknado quickly attained cult-film status and even had a theatrical release.
Last night (July 30), Syfy premiered the highly-anticipated sequel, Sharknado 2: The Second One, set in New York City. Syfy and its parent company NBCUniversal have teamed up with various other companies to release promotional material for the new movie, including a synchronized smart home light show, pajamas, disaster prep books and now, Sharknado: The Game, from Other Ocean Interactive and Majesco Entertainment.
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Sharknado: The Game builds on the game mechanics that mobile games like Temple Run made popular. Each level, which corresponds to yet another wave of airborne sharks, is divided into three sections, which you must traverse to complete the level. As in Temple Run, there seems to be an endless number of levels.
The first section of each level has you dodging sharks while running through city streets. The second has you surfing through New York and avoiding sharks. In the final section of the level, you ride a shark into the Sharknado while wielding a chainsaw.
With each new level, the incoming sharks speed up. The game tries to mix things up by giving you a points-based system for slaying sharks. If you kill a certain amount of sharks, the sharks will level up and you will receive Chum, an in-game currency that you can earn or pay real money for. Chum can be used to skip levels and stay alive.
This sounds like it might be fun, but it really wasn't. In fact, the entire game feels like it was a rushed job. Controls were clunky and ineffective during my testing and sometimes Fin, the main character, would not respond to the controls. The screen randomly froze up, and I would find myself in the jaws of a shark. The game consistently crashed after making a run or accessing the store.
Sharknado: The Game is based on Sharknado 2. Fin, the Ian Ziering character from the original movie, comes to New York to fight off yet more tornado-borne sharks, this time using a bat, a surfboard and, as in the first movie, a chainsaw. If you can accept the absurdity of the movie, you might accept the game's lack of logic as well.
The visuals feel typical of an iOS movie tie-in game. The menu design fits well with the movie's rough and bloody tone, but the in-game visuals felt cheap and undercooked, with limited animation and repetitive backgrounds. The three sections for every level felt eerily similar and left me uninterested.
Even if you enjoyed the cheesy horribleness that defined Sharknado so well, it's hard to like this game. While the game's concept is an acceptable take on the original, the execution felt rushed. The gameplay is slow and broken, the visuals are boring and the experience isn't worth paying $2.99 for. We think there are better endless runners and shark games out there that you can play for free.