It’s a feeling unlike anything else. Those moments where you play a perfect, epic, app killing video game. A video game that could only be crafted by masters, putting an exceeding amount of time, with a large crew, and the sort of heavy development period that is necessary to pull off this AAA magic. These are the games that you never forget because—screw it. No. Forget all of that. This is Sharknado: The Video Game we’re talking about here. This is no classic-in-the-making.
With a release date set to coincide with the release of “Sharknado 2: The Second One”, this tie-in title sees you controlling Fin Shepherd as he moves through the shark-infested streets and skies of New York City. As much absurd fun as they might sound like, this thing is really just a Temple Run endless runner-style clone, with essentially only two designs/backdrops to it all. It doesn’t help that through all of this, you’re looking at pretty ugly, blocky graphics while listening to bland, forgetful music. Even using some tired “Jaws” theme rip-off would have been more effective.
The title sees you basically moving around New York as sharks are dropped (or already lying on the ground) from the sky as you try to avoid them and other road block-ish obstacles, while collecting coins and hitting ramps. While dodging these finned foes, you have the ability to slide, jump on the sharks’ heads, or wallop them with a baseball bat, if you’ve managed to collect the power-up. Surfboard power-ups turn the streets into water and speed up the gameplay a little bit (although surfing with sharks seems just as much a death sentence as walking around them), and collecting a chainsaw transports you into the eye of the sharknado, where you’re riding a shark (because) and using your chainsaw to take down others, all while still Temple Run-ing your way around obstacles. If this feels shockingly similar to the level on the street, that’s because it is. Once clearing the chainsaw portion, you manage to destroy the sharknado, proceed to the next level, and lather, rinse, repeat through it all again, ad infinitum. The stage inside the sharknado is a little more visually appealing, but it becomes a bit more chaotic and messy accordingly, and gameplay suffers as a result as you struggle to make out what’s actually coming towards you a lot of the time. And on the topic of such, the swipe controls in this game are fairly unresponsive a lot of the time, making the game a much more frustrating experience than it needs to be. As you can imagine, there are some wonderfully absurd concepts and visuals thrown at you through here, but it doesn’t amount to much, and you keep coming back to a lazy Temple Run rip-off.
As that is essentially the meat of the game, elsewhere the title features six varieties of sharks (there are hundreds in real life, and you’d think that a sharknado would tend to highlight that), and these sharks can also level up as the game progresses. This is another confusing concept as you wouldn’t want these sharks to be getting stronger. It likely means you’re leveling up your strength against certain sharks, but again, a very complicated idea to illustrate. Leveling up your weapons, jump, or even yourself in general would have been a little better implementation of this concept. Don’t worry though, because there’ are extraneous shark facts thrown at you during loading screens.
It’s a real shame that Sharknado: The Video Game doesn’t absolutely hit it out of the park. I understand that a game that is lampooning a terrible movie should perhaps not be a gem in its own right, but there’s hardly even the campy tongue-in-cheek tone of the B-movie that frankly would have gone far here. In the end this feels like a lazy, unnecessary cash-in on a lazy, unnecessary sequel. I wasn’t expecting anything revolutionary here, but I was anticipating a silly, enjoyable game that at least would have offered some enjoyment before getting tedious incredibly quickly. At least it’s only $2.99. Then again, shouldn’t endless runners be free at this point, and you could probably buy the original “Sharknado” film for that price and have a lot more fun…