Ah… Ratalaika Games. The little publishing company that could.
They have been putting out game after game after game over the past couple years. Some good, some bad, but they’re mostly inexpensive and good to fill out your digital library. One of their latest ventures is a little game developed by Pixelteriyaki called Radio Squid.
You play the titular hero, a small squid who… is an archaeological foreman? Or something? You start off with one of your workers waking you up to tell you that they’ve finally found “it.” What is it? It’s the Siren Song. Something that you’ve apparently been looking for for quite some time now. So, you make your way to it and as soon as you activate the Siren Song… it breaks. A voice tells you that you now must replace it and “Siren Songs aren’t cheap,” so make sure to collect as many coins as possible.
The graphics are very charming and are kind of similar in design to the excellent Downwell. The music is SUPERB and probably the best part of the entire game. I guess it’s to be expected since the focal point of the game is music itself. The only area in which the game doesn’t exceed is, unfortunately, the gameplay.
You control the squid by moving it with the left joystick (or the directional pad) and you choose the direction of your shots with the right joystick (or the face buttons). Now, here’s where the problems start. You don’t control when you attack. When you enter a room, there is a giant bubble containing a music note. When you touch it, you start firing. I think you’re supposed to be firing to the tune of the music, but… you don’t. It just kind of fires randomly. Sometimes there’s a long break in between shots, which is especially frustrating during BOSS BATTLES.
Did I mention that your own bullets hurt you?
Yes. Your own bullets can bounce off walls and hurt you. Maybe this wouldn’t be an issue if you firing wasn’t automatic. Maybe this wouldn’t be an issue if the lifespan of your bullets wasn’t so damn long, but alas, that’s not the case here. And the damage your bullets do to you isn’t a small, nearly insignificant amount. They damage you just as much as any enemy would.
Also, remember when I said earlier that you have to collect as many coins as possible? Well, after every stage, you can buy upgrades such as doing more damage or adding more hearts to your life bar. This is assuming you can manage to keep enough coins to do so, because when you die, you lose 75% of your coins. SEVENTY-FIVE PERCENT! I could understand if maybe there was a way to regain the coins you lost (a la Shovel Knight), but you can’t. They’re just gone. This just makes the game more frustrating than fun to me.
It’s really a shame because Radio Squid could’ve been a great game if it wasn’t so frustrating. The music is amazing. The graphics have a certain charm to them. The gameplay is the only bad part of the game and that’s the most important part. While it may only cost $4.99/£4.99 on the eShop, there are much better things you could do with five bucks.
Review code provided
Platform: Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo
Release Date: 19/06/2020
No. of Players: 1
Category: Shooter, Arcade
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Download link: eShop