Hungry Shark World is one of those app-based games that probably commands just as much respect as a major console title. The follow-up to 2013's Hungry Shark Evolution - which has been downloaded over 230-million times - it's all about new graphics, new sharks, new worlds and missions.
The premise is simple. You play a shark, one that happens to be - no prizes for guessing - very hungry. It's like Hungry Hippos in app form meets a bloodier Echo The Dolphin (yes, the cutesy graphics in Hungry Shark can't hide the fact you're a vicious marine animal, capable of eating floundering tourists - but there is a "blood off" mode in the settings to help make it more kid-friendly than its 12+ rating suggests).
Eat your way through shoals of fish, divers, turtles, tourists, accidental rubbish and all manner of other aquatic life by dragging your direction of travel anywhere on your Android/iOS device's screen. Time is against you, with a constantly draining life that you'll need to keep countering by eating.
Sound familiar? The game feels just like Evolution before it, ableit - wait for it - an evolution of that title. Hungry Shark World not only looks better, but the game is more open too. There are (at launch) three worlds to choose from - Pacific Islands, Arctic Ocean, Arabian Sea - with different visuals, enemies and areas to discover. You're also not restricted to using a specific shark for a specific world, with a wide variety available as you progress and level-up throughout the game. But acquiring the great white or megalodon won't be a quick and easy task, you'll need to dedicate hours of play-time to reap such rewards.
Hungry Shark World is free-to-download, but there is in-game currency in the form of coins and gems. Both can be acquired by playing the game, with gems the rarer commodity. Such currency can be used to revive your shark if you starve or die, in order to continue your point-breaking run; while special items with power boosts are available to buy.
It's all rather tongue-in-cheek too. If putting a waxed-up moustache onto a whale shark sounds too dangerous to do in real life then, well, here's your chance in gaming context. Or maybe a chef's hat? Crown? There are all kinds with various actions: some slow life depletion, others add additional life restoration or make more coins available, and so on. You can even show-off your wares to your friends in the Shark Tank social area (but Facebook social media isn't an essential to play).
Missions update daily to provide rewards for different tasks, while an all-new live events system will see the top one per cent rewarded with specific items or coins (the top five per cent and top 20 per cent also gain rewards of lesser value).
Hungry Shark World is an evolution over its predecessor. Its gameplay is perhaps predictable, but if the game changed too much then it would lose its identity. Take that as a positive: we’ve enjoyed the way Angry Birds initially progressed, until it spead its wings too far and lost the simplicity and playability of the game (we’re looking at you Angry Birds Action, etc). Hungry Shark has kept to its core.
As one of those titles to dip into and play on the commute, we can see Hungry Shark World being snapped up by a heap of hungry downloaders. It's not breaking boundaries perhaps, but it's a fun-to-play freebie with some cheeky comical elements. And it's available right now for iOS and Android.