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Best iPad games: Tentacles: Enter The Dolphin

Press Play teams with Microsoft to bring its oddball experiment to the App Store

Apple has revolutionised how we consume and play portable games with iPhone and iPad. In this new regular series, CVG discovers and celebrates the most innovative new iPad games on the App Store. Click through the link to find our full list of the best iPad games.


Best iPad games: Tentacles: Enter The Dolphin

Also available on:

iPhone
Windows Phone

Lemmy is the unwanted result of a botched experiment by his creator Dr Phluff, a blundering biologist with a dolphin's head. The good doctor has accidentally swallowed this game's hero, so Lemmy's adventure takes place on a microscopic scale, within his arteries and ventricles. It was published by Microsoft for Windows Phone previously, but now it has come to iPad and iPhone. It's a pretty strange set-up, then.

The way you move Lemmy around the game is stranger still. You don't actually control the one-eyed invertebrate directly at any point; Instead you are placed in charge of firing out Lemmy's titular tentacles. It's a surrogate control scheme, like moving a rotund Spider-Man around with just three stringy, elastic web shooters. In videogame parlance, you are moving a spherical Link around Jabu Jabu's Belly in 2D, using just three rubbery hookshots.

Lemmy is perpetually bobbing about between his stretchy tendrils, inspiring a feeling of constant unease. Latching onto the right parts of the environment to pull Lemmy through Dr Phluff's insides feels unlike anything else, and how you guide him away from spikes, enemies and other traps is down to your own calculations. Grapple three disparate parts of the gory landscape and Lemmy is pulled equidistant between them, and he twangs back and forth more violently (and potentially into danger) if pulled over greater distances. He is completely at the mercy of your tentacle placement and the velocity that generates.

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Plotting a course through the game's 40 stages will take hours, and cannot be rushed. To begin with, impatience is your only obstacle as careful traversal will see most players through the first ten levels with relative ease. Later, against increasingly complex hazard mazes, an encroaching tide of bile or just a simple ticking clock, every tentacle must be directed with great precision. As you build an appreciation of where Lemmy will sit between his three tendrils, the stages get tougher too.

A fourth tentacle can be directed at enemies in Dr Phluff's innards to gobble them up whole, an act greeted by a horribly lucid incidental sound effect which is two parts crunch, one part squelch. Some adversaries require two taps and the game's difficult boss battles test your skill in controlling your wayward, rubbery avatar. Success depends on strategy, and resisting the urge to try and just muddle through.

Crisp cartoon looks and the increasing levels of accuracy required in each tap make iPad Tentacles' most natural home. The soundtrack's mix of dub, reggae, and half-pace drum and bass works beautifully with the rhythmic bobbing and weaving of your character, too.

Such smart presentation rounds out this excellent, unusual download, one which should be sampled by anyone seeking a slice of something completely different. It is apparently a game about a botched experiment, but if that's the case, I'd welcome more bad science from Microsoft Studios and Danish developer Press Play.

Tentacles: Enter The Dolphin is £0.69 on the App Store. Download it here.

Tentacles is also available on Windows Phone marketplace for £0.79. Download it here.

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