Derrick the Deathfin

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Derrick the Deathfin Game Poster Image
Easy side-scroller has simple environmental message.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can learn a bit about environmentalism and creative arts in this race-to-the-right action game. They'll guide a speedy fish through an ocean cluttered with human debris en route to puzzles levels where their little swimmer confronts potential sources of pollution. They'll learn more as they watch messages between levels, some of which humorously explore subjects related to the game, such as how to save energy. Kids may also glean an appreciation for papercraft as they take in the game's origami-like environments and creatures. This game delivers its message about environmental issues inside a fast-paced side-scrolling puzzle game.

Positive Messages

This game carries a basic theme about protecting the integrity of our oceans. Fish-on-human violence is part of the experience, but it's presented in a very cartoonish, non-gritty way unlikely to leave any emotional scars.    

Positive Role Models & Representations

Derrick doesn't do much other than eat and swim, though he does manage to destroy a few human installations that are polluting the ocean.    

Ease of Play

Levels are short and simple, but collecting all of the items necessary to unlock new areas usually involves replaying courses. Also, the act of jumping from the water to soar through hanging tires and over land obstacles is tricky, and may cause frustration for less patient players.

Violence

Players control a papercraft carnivorous fish that needs to eat just about everything he comes across to stay alive. He gobbles up anything, from crabs and penguins to unfortunate human swimmers. Each meal results in a brief flash, perhaps a few paper shreds, and a word like "puff," "krak," or "boom" appearing in text on the screen.  

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Derrick the Deathfin is a simple side-scrolling underwater game about a shark out to save the ocean. There's a bit of violence (Derrick will eat blocky human swimmers who cross his path), but there's no grittiness or gore. Everything is presented in papercraft, and consumed creatures simply disappear with a flash and a comic book-like word, such as "krak" or "puff." Beyond the action, the game carries a clear environmental message concerning human pollution of the world's water, with Derrick out to take down major potential sources of pollution, such as an oil platform.

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What's it about?

DERRICK THE DEATHFIN, available via download through Sony's PlayStation Network and on Steam for PC, stars an angry fish whose parents were killed when an oil company carelessly polluted the ocean. Derrick travels around the world, moving from one continent to the next on his way to confronting several human disasters-in-waiting, including an oil rig and an atomic installation. The game's speedy little levels involve swimming as quickly as possible from start to finish line, with Derrick needing to feed on the fish, animals, and humans he encounters along the way to keep up his energy. Players must also collect pink gemstones and attempt to jump through hanging rubber tires in order to unlock new areas.

Is it any good?

There's not much to this basic side-scroller, but what's here is fun. The papercraft graphics are simple but pretty, and the swim-to-the-finish action is just the right level of challenging -- you may not make it the first time, but you probably will the second (and since most levels are only about a minute long, you don't feel like you're wasting time). The environmental message lurking just below the surface makes the action a bit less mindless than it might first appear.

Finicky controls -- especially when jumping out of the water through tires or over land -- can be a bit aggravating, and the need to replay levels to collect more gems or jump through more tires to advance feels like an attempt to artificially lengthen the experience, but these aren't deal breakers. Derrick the Deathfin is entertaining while it lasts.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the environment. What about the way humans treat our world concerns you most? Do you think there's anything you, personally, can do about it?

  • Families can also discuss water safety. Do you swim in open water? Do you know the rules and pay attention to signs and instructions from lifeguards?  

  • Do you think games are a good medium in which to discuss social issues and/or science?

Game details

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