I was reading through some more old gaming magazines and I came across an old review for the Intellivision game Shark! Shark! in the November 1983 issue of Videogaming and Computer Gaming Illustrated. For some reason I always enjoy reading the reviews of these old games that were written when they were new. Here is a copy of the review if you care to check it out (summary: they quite liked it).
I had heard of Shark! Shark! but never had the opportunity to play it back in the day. But the article included a screenshot of the game which immediatey made me think - hey that looks a lot like an old-school version of Feeding Frenzy - a fun little Xbox Live Arcade game I bought dirt cheap on a used compilation disk (it cost me around $2 for 6 games).
|Shark! Shark! screenshot|
|Feeding Frenzy screenshot|
It only took a minute of playing Shark! Shark! to conclude that yes indeed, Feeding Frenzy is pretty much an uncredited ripoff of the Intellivision original. In the game you control a fish swimming around in the ocean eating smaller fish for points. After every 1000 points you grow in size which allows you to eat even bigger fish for more points. If you touch a fish that is bigger than you then YOU get eaten - makes sense - so you are constantly swimming around to avoid larger fish, sharks, jellyfish, seahorses, lobsters, and crabs that would love nothing more than to excrete your undigested remnants through their waterproof ani.
I don't know if you ever get large enough to eat the shark straight on but you can sneak up behind him and bite his tail and if you can manage to bite him at least three times (more as the levels progress) without him chomping you then he dies and sinks to the ocean floor (Feeding Frenzy stole this exact same gameplay mechanic too). Also you can eat the lobsters that jump up at you from the sea floor, but only if you bite them on their way back down. If they hit you on the way up you're sushi and you start over as a small fish. You start the game with 5 small fish and you get a free small fish for every shark, crab, or lobster that you manage to kill. You also get 3 "darts" where you are able to kick in a burst of speed to either catch your prey or avoid your predator. The overlay shows 3 different darts but they all seemed to be the same speed so I don't think there is any difference.
|Shark! Shark! Overlay|
The graphics were decent for an Intellivision game and I thought the sound effects, although simplistic, did a pretty good job of simulating an underwater experience. Also, it offers a cool 2-player simultaneous competitive play where you can eat smaller fish to grow but can also eat your opponent if he is smaller. That is a nice variation that I don't think is even offered by Feeding Frenzy.
Overall I enjoyed the game and think it would make a good addition to an Intellivision collection. I only have 2 complaints - 1) the action is a little too slow to develop in the early parts of the game and 2) the gameplay is virtually 100% based on 360 degree movement and that damn circular control pad on the Intellivision controller has always driven me nuts. So it makes it a little tough to control sometimes - for me anyway. But that is a system controller issue rather than the fault of the game itself.
If you don't have an Intellivision and don't care for emulators - Shark! Shark! is included on the excellent Intellivision compilation - 'Intellivision Lives' which is available for the PC, XBox, Gamecube, Playstation 2, iPhone, XBox 360, and Nintendo DS. I have it on the original XBox but I am rather intrigued by the DS version which uses the bottom touchscreen to simulate the original overlay controller action and the upper screen for the monitor.
|Intellivision's Utopia on the Nintendo DS|