OK, I know I've come onto the whole iPad scene a little late... I'm really more of a PC/Android girl and tend to shun anything Apple... however, I am forced to admit that a lot of great games are released on iOS that just aren't available on my side of the fence. So, I finally broke down and joined the Dark Side with my first iPad... and I'm a little embarrassed to say that I love it... shhhhh don't tell any of my Google friends.
And now that THAT confession is out in the open, let's talk about the very first game I downloaded... Fetch.
I admit, I had more reason than most to download it. A few of you may remember my trip to Casual Connect and Big Fish HQ last summer. I was fortunate enough to spend some time during my visit with the Drawn development team, and they let me have a top secret glimpse of the game they were working on at the time.
Well, I can tell you now that the game they were working on was Fetch.
Yes, I got to play Fetch before anyone else... and it was awesome even back then when it was only a fraction of the way done and only a few of the mini-games were complete. They even let me compete in the Rainbow Snake Time Team Challenge, one of the very first mini-games you encounter in the game.
Rainbow Snake Time is a simple game... you need to feed Rainbow Snake by throwing him darling little colored fish. You get bonus points for color chaining. Watch out for bombs and don't let him eat those bad zappy things (ironically named HOPAS). Sounds easy enough... but oh... just when I thought I was rocking a great score... I glanced at the Big Fish development board that displayed all their high scores and realized... I didn't stand a chance.
Of course, to be fair... they created Rainbow Snake Time and had a lot more time to perfect the art of chucking fish then I did. I know for a fact that they played this little gem a lot during the development process... I mean... A LOT. I bet this little arcade game in Fetch is the most tested area of all the mini-games you'll find throughout the entire adventure... being in the gaming industry does have its advantages after all...
But of course, I'm getting ahead of myself. Bad Rainbow Snake Time! It always finds a way to distract me from work, chores, life... it's really addicting, OK!
Anyhow... needless to say, with my Seattle experience fresh in my mind, I was really excited to download Fetch on my fancy new iPad just to experience the game in its entirety... to go beyond Rainbow Snake Time... but even then... that's not the REAL reason I wanted to play...
You see... during the time I spent with the development team, I realized that Chris Campbell, the lead Game Director for Fetch, and I had something in common...
We both named our dogs ridiculous things... for example, his dog "Bear" (yes, that's who the main character's dog is named after) is really named "Dogi the Bear Bryant..." Roll Tide... (War Eagle). And his first dog's name was "Salvadore Dagi."
My own darling dog is named "Mollie Ollie Oxen Free"... and my old dog was "Broke the Bank Enron." So you see, we both think we're very clever. Anyhow, Chris saw a picture of Mollie Ollie and heard what her name was, and he asked if it would be OK to include her in the game... um... wait a minute... you want to put my dog in a game??? Um... YEAH! That's AWESOME!
So really, my biggest motivator in downloading and playing Fetch was not to find and save Bear... but my very own Mollie Ollie!
I couldn't wait! My dog was a star! And I was determined to find her in the game ASAP! So, I fired up Fetch and dug in, eyes peeled for a little black and tan Doberman that needed me to save her.
Right from the get go, you can tell that Fetch is a cut above anything you've experienced so far in an iPad game. So much thought and effort went into its development. Each detail was lovingly created for those of us with the propensity to touch everything... and with the iPad... omg, I can't help myself. I poke the entire screen seeing how all the pieces move, making birds take flight and signs flicker over and over again. It's honestly an extremely immersive and interactive experience unlike any other.
When you begin the game, you have your dog, Bear, at your side, as you explore the streets, tapping on boxes and birds, signs and machines. In every corner of almost every scene, it seems like there's something to do, whether it's pulling out staples from posters, popping bubble tape from a package, or landing plops of bird poop on a sign... yes, I did spend time doing that. How could you not? It's bird poop! It even made splatting noises when you plopped it down! What a fun and easy way to keep a child entertained for hours! Child? Tracy? What's the difference?
However, it doesn't take long for the frivolty to end when your precious Bear is snatched from the streets by a rogue fire hydrant / robot dog napper, and you begin your journey desperately trying to track him down.
The graphics of Fetch are truly awe inspiring, a veritable work of art.... no really... I'm not just saying that to be fancy... it's actually a work of art... it's featured in the Seattle Museum of History and Industry! And it's easy to see why from first glance... the colors were extraordinary, drenched in blues and browns, and masterfully shadowed with exquisite depth and texture. It almost reminded me of something that would have come out of a Pixar movie. So modern and vibrant, yet with so much emotion blended into these seeminly simple characters.
Of course, we would expect no less from the artists responsible for the Drawn games. (If you're very observant, you'll even find bits and pieces of the Drawn artwork littered throughout the game as well.)
Throughout your journey, you'll encounter mini arcade games such as Alien Shooter or Pier Pressure. Once you find these games, you can access them from the main screen and play at any time. This was something my husband actually enjoyed immensely when we used Fetch as our date night game, (but that's a whole article on its own) since he loves mindless little mini-games he can play over and over again... not to mention my obsession with Rainbow Snake.
The gameplay is simple and intuitive. Want to walk somewhere? Just tap and your character will move. (If only it was that easy to make children do what you want in real life.) Need to shoot an alien or a fish out of the sky? Again, just tap it. Before you even think how to do something, you're doing it... and for that, I thank the developers, since there are times when I just want to play a game... I don't want to wade through endless wasted minutes trying to figure out HOW to play it.
As you progress through Fetch, you'll find numerous puzzles, mini-games, and achievements. Achievements can be earned by doing some pretty random things, such as popping all the bubbles on the bubble wrap or tapping all the nails in on a poster... wait, so my neurotic need to touch everything is actually being rewarded??! Woohoo!!! Take a look at the name of this achievement I got for touching all the billboards... it's called Mad Men... hysterical!
Now, normally I play iPad games with the sound off, (OK fine... it took me a while to figure out how to turn the sound up on the darn thing... happy?!) but I quickly realized that the level of thought and time that went into choosing the score and sound effects in Fetch was so above and beyond your normal video game track. It actually enhanced your gameplay, rather than just acting as a given background accompaniment.
I seriously loved the voice acting, even if there was very little actual talking. The brief cries from your character calling out Bear's name were heartwrenching and full of emotion... always so close, yet so far away from being reunited with his puppy dog! The robotic feminine voice that represented Embark was a nice touch as well... and I couldn't help but feel it was a nod to the insulting wench of a robot, Glados, from Portal who tells me all the time how stupid I am. Glados... come down here so I can personally kick you in the teeth...erm gears? Wires? Whatever... come here so I can Hulk Smash your stupid head.
Erm... sorry about that... that robot drives me crazy... she's hysterical but still. It's more entertaining when she's reeming out someone else!
Anyhow... back to the game... scattered throughout Fetch, you'll also find dog collars... and here's my favorite part, as you can well imagine...
The dog collars belong to real life dogs and each one has a tag with their name and owner information. I found the "real" Bear right away as well as Chris's Salvador, listed as "Forever a Best Friend." I admit, I had to stop and wipe away a few tears after seeing that... it's a dog thing... if you don't love them, you won't understand the place they can hold on your heart even after they are long gone...
After every collar I found, I kept thinking... is this it? Is this Mollie Ollie's?
Thankfully, I didn't have to wait too long or my husband would have smacked me since I was screaming every time I saw one. I soon spied a pretty collar, just beyond my reach in the Sewers. Could it be? Might that be... Mollie Ollie's collar?!
Can you imagine my squeal of delight when I was greeted with this tag after I tapped it?
OMG... I quickly snatched a screenshot and posted it immediately to Facebook. I couldn't help myself!! How cute is that?! My mother was so proud of her grandpuppy! A star in the family at last! Yay Mollie Ollie Oxen Free!!!
Anyhow, once I got over my initial excitement, (OK, it took a really long time...), I felt I was once again able to put on my professional cap and really, truly evaluate Fetch for what it was... and you know what... it's still a 5-Star game. Because, even if my dog wasn't staring back at me with her adorable soulful eyes, I would still want to play this game; I would still want to rescue Bear; and I would still have a really awesome time doing it... having my dog in the game simply puts it over the top in my book.
So if you love games, and you love animals, there's really no way you can miss out on this opportunity to experience one of the best games of the year. Fetch is truly spectacular, amazingly heartwarming, and utterly, infinitely adorable.