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Daily iPhone App: Sea Stars


Sea Stars is Hothead's latest game on the App Store, and it's really good. You play as a little fish who can swim and jump through water with a touch of the screen. Your goal is to swim as far as possible while avoiding obstacles. It's quite fun and well done.

There's just one big issue: The game is basically Jetpack Joyride. Now, it's not exactly Jetpack Joyride, since you're not riding a backpack, and in practice, the controls are more or less upside down from JJ's float-up-when-touched controls. But the other similarities are undeniable. First, you collect coins which can be spent on upgrades (coins can also be bought via in-app purchase). You'll also find "friends" which work like JJ's vehicles, making you survive an extra hit and switching up the control scheme. Finally, the obstacles move and turn like the electric spheres in Jetpack Joyride. It's possible Hothead was working on this before Halfbrick's big title, but not likely. This game is essentially Jetpack Joyride re-skinned.

That's not necessarily bad. Jetpack Joyride is a great game, and if you've already prestiged in that one a few times, Sea Stars will definitely float your fish (though I do have to say that I don't understand the "hurt your tail" reference when the game ends, whatever that means). But this is a blatant ripoff. I would rather have seen Sea Stars try to improve on Halfbrick's great formula rather than borrow it.

Perhaps I'm complaining too much, especially considering the app's current price. Sea Stars is a great title that just happens to be free thanks to a promotion in the App Store right now.

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