Destructopus has an awesome name. It describes exactly what the game is and sounds cool with resorting to subtitles or even multiple words. It’s the sort of title that you would see coming up next on the SyFy channel, and it’s one that you know you absolutely have to watch.
In Destructopus, you play as a giant octopus who must destroy things. You can attack high and low, dodge by ducking, and shoot laser beams out of your mouth. You also take up pretty much half the screen as you stomp your way around cities in need of a good beating.
Destroctopus is an environmentalist, you see, and when he is disturbed from his assumed eternal slumber by the oil drills of a nearby city, he decides that he isn’t going to stand for it. Destructopus emerges from the ocean finding himself surrounded by dead sea creatures and climbs onto land to destroy the offending polluters. Along the way he destroys lots of buildings, battles with the latest military technology and frees cute little animals.
Destructopus occupies the entire left half of the screen and is controlled by the dreaded virtual on screen controller. You can move Destructopus left and right and make him duck. He moves at a lumbering pace, which can be annoying, especially when tiny soldiers can push you back with their bullets. It sometimes feels like you’re barely moving at all.
Attacks also rely on a virtual controller of sorts but are much more forgiving than movement controls. Tap the general lower area of the right side of the screen and you will do a low sweeping attack. Tap the upper right, and you will chomp upward. Hold your finger down on the screen and Destructopus will shoot lasers. As you progress, you will earn points that can be spent on expanding attacks or increasing speed, among other things. In the store are a number of items that require real world money for purchase. They are in no way separated from the purchases that can be made with in-game currency, making their inclusion a little questionable. It’s highly possible that you could accidentally spend real money where you didn’t mean to. I almost bought the ability to play as a giant Panda with my own money.
One of the strongest elements of Destructopus is the overall presentation. The art style is just pixelated enough to inspire nostalgia without looking rough. The music is even better. It delivers an old school Sega Genesis vibe that nearly demands headphones.
The biggest problems with Destructopus are the pacing, the difficulty and the repetition. Even though the backgrounds are varied, the levels themselves don’t feel varied at all. You just move from left to right, break stuff, and try to avoid missiles--and then you move on to do it again. The game moves at a crawl. I can’t imagine a giant octopus would be able to move very quickly on land, and that’s how the game feels. Destructopus just sort of trudges along, stopping to swipe at buildings or duck to avoid missiles. He never feels like he is in quite the hurry you want him to be. The game also becomes fairly difficult about halfway through, partly due to the slow pace. Your movements are incredibly limited, and you just don’t have many options. I would often find myself getting pushed back by the smallest soldiers, making very little headway toward the end. It was frustrating, and it felt less like my inability to play the game as much as an inability to play the game the way I should have been able to.
Despite the flaws, Destructopus is still a fun game with a great style, music and gameplay reminiscent of Rampage. It also has an unexpected message, asking players periodically to post links to their Facebook pages about assorted environmentalist groups. It’s like the typical “post your score to Facebook” feature, but with a extra incentive behind it other than promoting the game. It can be tough and slow at times, but Destructopus will definitely appeal to gamers looking for an old school experience on their iOS devices.