Whenever a movie-based game is launched on the iPhone, especially one based on a beloved classic like Jaws, we get a little nervous. Will this be another poor tie-in like Dawn of the Dead, or will it actually make players glad they took the bait? Nothing to worry about here: Jaws on the iPhone is quite good.
The main inspiration for Jaws on iPhone is Harbor Master. The goal is to save your swimmers while Jaws periodically swims in for the kill. On most of the game’s ten levels, you can steer rescue boats by tracing a path for them. You can also flick to direct the swimmers, and operate a gunner boat by dragging a reticule around.
Some levels have no boats, and others give you no guns, so the levels contain a few different variations on these simple themes. Other twists are that if your boats crash, your swimmers end up back in the water, and on some levels you have to unload your swimmers in special docks.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…
The graphics in Jaws aren’t astounding, but they are nice to look at. Your swimmers come in different varieties, and with time you’ll identify strong versus weak swimmers and plan your rescue strategies accordingly. Jaws himself looks great, swimming underwater menacingly until he comes in contact with one of your swimmers. Then he comes leaping out of the water and leaves a pool of blood in his wake.
As you progress, you’ll find certain stages blocked off to you until you can reach a high enough score on earlier levels. We actually enjoyed this mechanic– it forced us to revisit earlier stages, and with skill and dedication, rescue more swimmers. Though the ten levels only last a little over an hour, there were a fair number of exciting close calls for us in that time.
Duh dun. Duh dun. Duh dun duh dun…
The final level is an interesting one, since you don’t have to worry about swimmers at all. Instead, you only have to target Jaws with the gunboat while he rams into you. Then the game will switch to a first-person view, and you have to ‘stab’ at Jaws in a quick-reflex event. Do this enough times, and you’ll get a chance to shoot at the oxygen tank Jaws bites with his jagged grin. “Smile, you son of a’¦”
It’s pretty easy for us to recommend Jaws on the iPhone, even if it’s missing a survival high score mode and the ten levels won’t last experienced path-drawers for too long. For a movie-based game, it’s actually got a good sense of fun about it, and the dramatic theme music will grab your attention every time it plays. Like the mayor of Amity says, “It’s a beautiful day, the beaches are open, and people are having a wonderful time.”