Review: Dolphin Up

Dolphin-ately unique.

By Anthony Vigna. Posted 02/11/2015 09:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Dolphins in space; Online leader boards.
Poison Mushroom for...
Trick system is too simplistic; Not enough gameplay variety.

Ever wanted to play a game about a dolphin doing tricks in space? Of course you have! Now with Rawkin Games’ latest Wii U eShop game, Dolphin Up, you can live out your fantasies by chaining a tailslide into corkscrews and back flips over the moon!

The description of Dolphin Up sounds like an elaborate hoax I’ve invented to trick our readers, but this is definitely a real game that you can buy on Wii U. After choosing between three different dolphins and levels, players are plopped into the sea and are challenged to do as many ridiculous tricks as possible within a two minute time limit. If you can position your dolphin’s nose with the trajectory of your fall after a jump, you’ll earn a “Nice Entry” and gain a significant speed boost. Landing multiple “Nice Entries” boosts your speed exponentially, letting you jump higher out of the water and perform bigger combos.

While chaining “Nice Entries” without breaking a combo can lead to higher scores, the increased speed of your dolphin makes things more difficult. If you’re not careful, you can mess up the angle of a “Nice Entry” or hit the bottom of the sea, which will dramatically decrease your current speed. Not only does this break your combo and prevent you from getting a great score, you’ll also miss out on the hilarity of breaking the laws of physics with high jumps as a dolphin in space!

Unfortunately, Dolphin Up‘s simplistic mechanics leave me with much to desire. The game’s basic control scheme lets you turn your dolphin with the D-pad, accelerate with the A or B button, and perform corkscrews and tailslides with the Y or X button. That’s it! The other tricks within the game are mostly situational, like performing a tailslide past a polar bear to achieve a “Polar Express,” which doesn’t give much creative freedom in the tricks that the player can perform. As a result, I often found myself doing the same kinds of tricks in the air and eventually became bored of performing them.

There also isn’t much variety offered within Dolphin Up as well. None of the three dolphins control differently than the other and each of the three levels only offer minor differences, such as rings to boost speed, glaciers to slide on, and birds that give extra points. Also, the only other mode that exists aside from the two minute time attack mode is an endless practice mode, which doesn’t have much of a use once you master the simple mechanics of the game. Despite the fact that Dolphin Up only costs $3.99, the game could have been much better with some additional features to make things different and interesting.

Dolphin Up is a hard game to recommend. While it’s tons of fun to see how high you can get your dolphin to reach in space, the tricks get boring to perform due to their simplicity and a lack of gameplay variety makes it hard to hold your interest over time. The online leader boards help extend the replayability of the game, but the novelty of Dolphin Up‘s absurd premise ultimately wears thin after multiple sessions.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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