Let’s get this out of the way right up front: Squidgies Takeover is a deeply, existentially upsetting name for a video game. I’m not the kind of person who’s disturbed by words like “moist,” but “squidgie” is bad. It looks like a transliteration of the sound Gooigi makes when he squelches through a grate in Luigi’s Mansion 3. I am only now beginning to get over it.
In Squidgies Takeover, the titular characters are spherical alien creatures trying to colonize new worlds to escape their overbearing mother (?). They are very cute. I want to protect them and see them grow up to be strong and healthy. And I wince every time my mistakes cause them suffering.
See, the game is like Lemmings — you’ve got to get these hapless creatures to an exit by imbuing them with special abilities that allow them to float, launch each other, or swing from grappling hooks. Do people still know about Lemmings? Maybe Mario vs Donkey Kong is a better reference in 2019.
Regardless, it’s a simple premise, here controlled entirely via touch controls. I thought that would be a pain, but after a couple of levels I didn’t actually mind tapping on my Switch Lite’s neglected touch screen to help my little orb friends reach their goal. And when I mess up and they’re electrocuted, set aflame, or launched into oblivion, I feel just awful. Why do they have to scream.
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The presentation here is pretty minimal, but that’s fine because the key things are communicated well: hazards are clearly marked, the exit is always in view, and, again, the character design seems to have been engineered to instill a powerful maternal protective instinct in the player. It doesn’t matter that these little critters are spreading throughout the universe, probably devouring everything in their path. I want them to. I welcome it.
Squidgies Takeover was developed by Australian studio Giant Margarita as a collaboration between staff and students at the University of Tasmania. Its release today is some unfortunate timing, as it’s almost certainly going to get lost in Pokemon madness this week. But if you’re looking for something a little more manageable and focused on pure game design rather than hours of adventure, you should check it out.