A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Squishy Tank is a tile-matching puzzle game with themes of war and violence, though the battles portrayed are cartoonlike and quite mild. Cute little sentient tanks are blown to smithereens in puffs of black and white smoke as players tap groups of like-colored tiles on the lower screen. The most graphic moment comes late in the story mode when a faint red splotch -- presumably blood -- can be seen on one tank’s bandage. Many of the game’s jokes riff on famous lines from old war movies like Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket, but they’ve been thoroughly scrubbed of the sort of adult language for which these movies are known. The worst words in the game are insults like “fatbody” and “worm,” which are directed at the squishy tanks by their R. Lee Ermy-like drill sergeant.
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What's it about?
In SQUISHY TANK, players examine a grid of pulsing square blobs looking for groups of three or more like colored tiles to tap on to make them disappear. The goal is to clear a set number of tiles in specific colors before the timer/health bar runs out. It shouldn’t take most players longer than a minute or two to figure out how things work, and perhaps a few more to understand what the power-ups do. Tap a tank tile and a tank will storm through two horizontal rows of blobs, destroying them all. Tap a baby tank tile and it will head off in random directions turning all tiles it touches to the same color. Tap a syringe and it will restore the timer/health bar. The action is loosely linked to a bizarre story that sees an R. Lee Ermy-like drill sergeant training sentient, malleable tanks to fight (before each level we’re ordered to “eradicate” enemy tiles). The story mode only lasts a few hours, but there are some additional ways to play that have us tackling puzzles with an aim to meet specific conditions, trying to set records in time attack and survival mode, and engaging quick minigames unlocked during the campaign.
Is it any good?
Squishy Tankhas a bizarre, inimitable atmosphere that players won’t soon forget, but it’s the game’s action that’s most memorable. The fast paced puzzles keep players’ eyes darting around looking for matches and their styluses perpetually tapping the screen. At first it doesn’t seem as though much strategy is required. In fact, on the easiest difficulty setting one could conceivably play through the entire story by closing his or her eyes and randomly tapping different areas of the screen. However, play at a proper skill level and you’ll need to learn the best ways to use power-ups to your advantage and how to create chains quickly to keep extending the constantly dwindling health/timer bar.
The only downside is that things get pretty repetitive after a while. Aside from the color of the tiles, the puzzle grid never changes much, and our objectives are always just variations on theme; clear this many red tiles or that many blue tiles. It’s fun in small bursts, but it doesn’t have the long-term habit-forming kind of play that distinguishes the very best puzzle games.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the game’s sense of humor. What did the kids get out of the jokes? Did the parents have a better appreciation of them? What age group do you think the game’s humor is best suited for?
Families can also discuss the sentient squishy tanks. Did you grow attached to them? Did you feel badly about how they were treated? Were you distressed when you saw them blown up?
For kids who love puzzles
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