Review: Save the Humans—6th Mega’s Puff Puff for iPhone

Geek Culture

Puff PuffPuff Puff

Some people are fond of saying that it isn’t the Earth that needs saving—the Earth will be around long after we’re gone. No, it’s we humans who need saving from ourselves. (Need evidence? Look no further than the Gulf, where another oil rig just caught fire.) 6th Mega is a new indie game developer dedicated to preventing the sixth mega extinction. Their flagship product is Puff Puff, an underwater arcade game, and they’re contributing 30% of net proceeds to ecosystem restoration with a focus on the Gulf of Mexico marine habitat. A new version of Puff Puff just hit the iTunes store this week

Puff Puff screenshotsPuff Puff screenshots

Puff Puff screenshots: the coral reef and the Gulf oil spill. Click to enlarge.

In Puff Puff, you play a diodon holocanthus, the spiny pufferfish, navigating your way through coral reefs or the Gulf oil spill. The game has an interesting control system, combining the accelerometer with pinch/squeeze gestures. Pinching and squeezing causes the puffer to deflate and inflate, which then affects its buoyancy and moves it up or down on the screen. Tilting the screen makes the puffer move forward or back, though there’s a constant automatic forward movement. Grab power-ups for a speed boost, keep your energy levels up, or temporary shield, but avoid the obstacles—three hits and you die (unless you find the extra lives). Enemies will float by as well—sharks in the coral reef and robo-subs in the Gulf—but you can hit them if you’ve got your spines extended.

Puff Puff is nicely designed and the graphics really do a great job of putting you in an underwater world. I haven’t seen any other games with this sort of control, so it’s a cool use of the iPhone’s capabilities. The goal of the game is simply to get as far as possible, so it can get a little monotonous after a while, but an upcoming update will add some new enemies, and the two levels give you a change of scenery.

Here’s a little video of gameplay (from version 1.0, which doesn’t have the Gulf Spill level):

What’s also neat is that 6th Mega is releasing Puff Puff as “goodware”—they’re distributing the source code for free and encouraging remixes. I’d love to see what somebody else can do with the app as well.

Puff Puff is $.99 in the iTunes store. Of course, if you really want to help save the humans, 6th Mega encourages you to donate to The Nature Conservancy’s Adopt a Coral Reef program.

Wired: Unique controls using pinch/squeeze and accelerometer give the game a different feel; 6th Mega donates 30% of proceeds to conservancy efforts.

Tired: Could use a little more variety along the way.

Disclosure: 6th Mega provided a review copy of Puff Puff.

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