I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve an obsession with octopi. I befuddled many a Gamestop employee by calling every few minutes, days before Octomania was released, just to find out if any new information had surfaced. I didn’t know exactly what Octomania was, but my soul was held fast by the promise of this game, much as a diver is held fast by a gargantuan, manflesh-degesting clam. I reasoned that anything that could contain Takoyaki, magic, malevolent baby dragons, and multiplayer support had to be worth my 20 dollars, so I gladly picked up a copy. Now that I am wiser in the ways of octo, I find that, much like someone biting into a Takoyaki, I’m not exactly sure about what I’ve got on my hands.
Octomania is a puzzle game where you use the Wiimote to rotate groups of colored octopi to form continuous chains. Once you have your octopi strategically positioned, you rotate some onto one of the grill surfaces on the playing field, which will transform any groups of three or more (some levels have a higher minimum) octopi into a cluster of bubbles. You can rid the screen of octopi just by doing this, but the real strategic element is in forming chains of similarly colored octopi, which, when connected to a bubbling octo, will case a chain reaction to take place, clearing all octopi in the chain.
It takes a while for the bubbling to die down, and throughout the clearing process, more octopi are raining down from the heavens, runing your chains and generally getting in the way of your plans. It’s game over when the screen fills completely. This forces you to work very quickly, clearing out octopi as soon as you can get them together.
The Wiimote works well, affording you the agility necessary to align your pieces correctly, though you can also opt for a button-only configuration if that feels more natural. The playing field gets cluttered quickly, and it’s rather satisfying to form a giant chain, clearing out a majority of the octopi on the board. With multiple players, there is a bit more pressure, as any octopi chains they clear will throw hard-to-eliminate sea urchins onto your field; you can do the same to them. Each unique character you select has a special move that, when activated, will further hinder your opponent’s gameplay.
The characters are interesting, and the translation from Japanese is simple, yet not without moments of humor. Kanizaemon, the samurai crab, is pretty awesome.The voice acting is rather cringe-inducing, however, and you’ll probably find yourself turning down the volume once your ears start spasming.
Octomania has the production values that you would expect from a brand-new, 20 dollar budget game, but the whimsical character design and fast-paced gameplay help to balance out the rough spots. If you’re looking for a cheap puzzler on the Wii, then this one might be worth a rental, just to see if it’s your cup of tea. However, unless you’re among the octo-obsessed, there are better puzzle experiences to be had out there, and games like Puzzle Quest are superior to Octomania by having a greater strategic depth and more addictive gameplay.
Rating (3 out of 5)
I give Octomania a 65/100, and I suggest you rent this title before buying.
ESRB: E for Everyone
Other Puzzlers of Note
If you like Octomania, be sure to try out these games:
Puzzle Quest (Wii, PSP, DS, PS2, PC)
Puzzle Pirates (PC)