Critter Crunch is one of the most adorable games you will ever discover; yet below it’s seemingly simple and cute gameplay lies a deeply complex and challenging puzzle game that will take you hours, or even days to master. The title revolves around the life of Biggs, a weirdly cute jungle creature that is dedicated to feeding his children.
If only it was that simple.
To achieve this aim, he must regurgitate a fountain of rainbow-coloured vomit into his adorable little munchkins; and of course this is easier said than done. Basically, each level consists of rows of “critters” that slowly inch their way down the vine, and if they manage to get to the bottom of the vines it’s game over.
Finishing a level requires you to feed smaller creatures to larger creatures until you reach a pre-determined score. That’s really all there is to it, and while it may sound deceptively simple and easy, the game quickly escalates in complexity and difficulty. Before long you’ll be dealing with bombs, which blow up all surrounding squares; creatures which morph into other creatures; poisoned creatures which take points away from you, and many other concepts that vary the gameplay and keep it interesting.
Critter Crunch becomes even more challenging if you actually want to start feeding your children (in order to earn a good ending). In order to achieve this, you have to get your little munchkin to show up by popping at least 8 critters with one move. Following this, holding down the circle button for a predetermined time allows you to “barf” rainbow nutrients into your offspring; of course, whilst the critters are still moving down the vine, and on top of it all, the critters travel at an accelerated pace while you’re feeding.
Early on, special powerups are introduced that become essential in terms of tactical play. These pickups have varying effects; from destroying entire rows, to making the critters all travel upwards one level and give you some more breathing space. The use of power-ups becomes critical late-game and is just another example of the deep complexity this game offers beneath its seemingly simple premise.
Even when all’s said and done with adventure mode, and you feed all of your children, there are still a ton of additional modes for gamers to play through. The first of these is “Puzzle Mode”, where players must clear the board of critters within x amount of moves. A total of 100 puzzles exist, and without a guide, they can easily take hours to complete. Challenge mode is similar, though there are only 50 levels to complete, and the tasks require you to perform certain goals in a certain amount of time rather than solving puzzles.
If you’ve managed to exhaust the previous two options, you can turn to Survival mode, where you must keep the critters from reaching the bottom of the vines for as long as possible. The longer you last, the faster the critters travel downwards, and the more frantic the gameplay becomes.
Lastly, you can also play multiplayer games against other people. The online system is a joy to use as it’s easy to find a game, and there’s no lag to be noticed. From there on in it’s a fast-paced split-screen competition where you must truly be on top of your game to prevail, as some players are very good. Additionally, the multiplayer mode adds special power-ups to mess up your opponents, such as mushrooms that distort opponent’s vision.
However, there is one problem with going online: you’ll often be matched up unequally, so a level 5 person with an 80% win rate may find themselves playing a level 1 player with a 20% win rate, which predictably results in the newbie losing. It’s not a deal-breaker by any means, but it would be better if Capybara games could create a better matchmaking system.
Nevertheless, if you put all of these modes together, you will have have hours upon hours of gameplay in front of you. Even using a guide detailing exactly how to play each level would yield at least 5 hours of playtime, so a price of US$6.99 seems ridiculously low for such a long and fantastic experience.
Critter Crunch looks gorgeous, and Biggs and his children just look so darn adorable.
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The gameplay is deep and complex, yet it also varies quite considerably, ensuring the experience is interesting throughout.
The sound is simple, and while it's not anything to write home about, it sets the scene quite well.
There are so many things to do in this game it's ridiculous, and the online component means you can pretty much play forever.
For the low price of $6.99, given the large amount of content, it's hard to pass this one up. It's innovative, fun, and overall, a great gem to have in your collection.