Shark Dash Hands-On Preview

Gameloft has just announced a cartoonish physics puzzler called Shark Dash. The game comes out Thursday, but we got our hands on it last month. Read on for our impressions.

Shark Dash is a light-hearted physics puzzler that stars bath toys and takes place in bathtubs across the globe. The main character is a toothy toy shark named Sharkee, whose girlfriend has been kidnapped by evil rubber duckies. Your job as the player is to fling Sharkee and his pals around 96 bathtub-based levels and take out all the rubber duckies you find.

You fling the toy sharks by pulling back on them and letting go, just like in Angry Birds. However, the gameplay feels quite different. Your shark ricochets around the tub and can do things like dive underwater and shoot back up through the air in a predictable arc.

Each level presents a different set-up of obstacles, from soap and bath salts to tubes and sponges. Your characters interact with each obstacle differently, but we didn’t have any trouble acclimating to the gameplay.

Creating a cartoonish physics puzzler is somewhat new territory for Gameloft, which is strange because they’ve tried just about everything, from sports games to freemium games to hardcore shooters. But they’ve never shied away from trying what’s popular, and physics puzzlers certainly have a strong track record on the App Store.

Shark Dash has all the hallmarks of a mega-successful iOS game: a silly premise, cartoonish graphics, and a simple, responsive control scheme. Will it be the “Next Big Thing” on the App Store? We’ll have to wait and see, but we won’t have to wait long. Shark Dash comes out April 19 and will cost $0.99.