Shark Tale brings the animated movie to the PS2 as an action game for the younger crowd. The game basically presents the movie as a series of chapters and ask you, as Oscar, to complete various mini game goals in each. The game presents a good picture of the world of the movie, looking just like the animated CG film of the same name. This is done well, and looks okay but the payoff in the end are simply some bonus materiel that will eventually find it’s way on to the DVD.
The graphics are very nice to look at. There are lots of clips from the movie itself which are clear and easy to see. The clips have little to no artifacts on them, and I found it hard to tell for certain that these were clips versus rendered scenes. The rendered sections look really nice, and have captured the look of the underwater world that the movie presents. There is a lot going on during gameplay, with many fish representing the busy anthropomorphic world of The Reef. The colors are vibrant, and I couldn’t find much of everyone’s favorite PS2 complaint, aliased graphics. The world is relatively large for some levels and has little load times for these areas. Other levels that are much simpler games have a little more detail going on in the background, but the difference is minimal. All in all, it does a great job of envisioning a large underwater world in small chunks with almost no load time, and without just putting a wavy filter over the display. The sound and music for this game would be passable. The downside to this is that the music choices are so horrible that it makes the game hard to pay attention to the gameplay. The music consists of remakes of middle 90’s music, such as MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This”, and others. It would seem that these remakes are sung or arranged by Will Smith, who also provides the voice of the main character in the movie. These songs still aren’t completely a wash, but with them looped in the background of the level continuously, they quickly get on your nerves, especially when some of the levels can take several minutes to complete. The end result was that I wanted to turn off the game after a few minutes of play. This is not a huge surprise, but I found the game really easy to get into due to the controls. They are constructed as to build upon previous minigames, and only use simple button combinations to control Oscar onscreen. Most of the objects you interact with are simply swum around, with a circle indicating how much you have travelled around the object. The other moves are simply ‘Press button X to do this, PRess button Circle to do this’ commands with large icons onscreen. I was never at a loss as to what to do even though there are no lead in instructions between games/chapters. Considering the target audience for this game, this is not terribly surprising. The game is divided up into chapters, each providing a different gameplay challenge. The game opens with Oliver’s escape from a shark, setting the tone for the rest of the game. Oliver can escape from the shark by simply following the arrow directions on the screen. Other games require you to save your furniture as it is being tossed out, and stopping some young fish from tagging the neighborhood. The games require you to explore the areas and discover specific items, or follow on-screen instructions. You are typically given three levels of goals for each chapter, resulting in different levels of reward. The games are simple, and in some cases frustrating. The difficulty varies greatly, and might frustrate the game’s chosen audience. There is very little reason to replay the game for the average gamer, but children might visit this game again and again the same way they would revisit a DVD that they like. You can unlock special items from the bonus gallery using the pearls you collect, but from what I can tell, this has little effect on any gameplay options.