A Fish Out of Water
Caring for a creature like Watee (Out Now,
$0.99 Free) would be a daunting task for any pet owner. First, you have to give him water. Then you have to give him more water. And since he’s a peevish little critter, he won’t accept water being poured directly from a jug into his fishbowl, oh no — it has to be funneled through an entire obstacle course, evidently for his entertainment. In the end, Watee is poorly suited for the pet store. The App Store is another matter entirely, as his demands make for some splish-splashing physics puzzle fun.
Watee’s puzzles invariably present the player with a maze of shelves. Objects like plates and funnels must be dragged around and rotated to create suitable deflective paths from a hovering water tank at screen top to Watee’s fishbowl at screen bottom. Putting dishware to use is pretty straightforward, but where Watee really shines are its steam and bubble puzzles. If a direct path from dispenser to fishbowl proves impossible, it’s time to defy gravity by pouring water over red-hot heating bulbs or onto bubble blowers. From that point, the player needs to take care that the water gets re-converted — perhaps using fans to direct rising steam onto chilly water condensers or bubbles into cacti, producing a drip that can be recovered.
I found Watee’s style a curious hybrid of logic puzzle and action puzzle. The player sets up the given objects in advance and then hits a virtual button to open the water tank, but his or her job doesn’t quite end there. A small drop will flow through the player’s setup differently than a weightier stream due to surface tension, so the player has to figure out how quickly the tank should be emptied through trial and error.
What I love most about Watee is that each level can conceivably be solved in different ways. On the other hand, the developer definitely has specific solutions in mind if the player wants to shoot for perfection: apparently Watee likes apples too, so end-of-level ratings are determined by how many of these are hit by water droplets on their way down. Many levels can be solved without claiming any apples at all, and yet a minimum performance rating is necessary to unlock the game’s second set of levels. This will certainly have players re-visiting levels in the first set, trying to think further outside the box each time.
Further constraining the player’s options are the limited water in the dispenser – kindly measured by a gauge – and a ticking timer. If his bowl isn’t filled to the brim in sixty seconds, Watee will be an unhappy sea creature, and the level failed. Furthermore, the game has a habit of declaring failure early, should the player be way off the mark in his or her current setup. This drove me right up the proverbial wall at first, but I eventually came to appreciate how it helps speed along the trial and error process.
I found Watee’s single virtual button completely reliable; likewise for the touch sensitivity of its in-game objects and the rotation rings used to orient them. The game’s brief tutorial levels do skirt dangerously close to hiding the all-important fact that the water dispenser can be shifted horizontally. I completely overlooked this at first because a rather large arrow directs the player’s attention to movable dishware during the same tutorial. Also on the downside, Watee’s tutorials stop early and leave it completely up to the player to figure out what to do with advanced objects. On the one hand, the guesswork can be fun at times, but on the other, it will prove frustrating to players who appreciate clarity.
Watee’s cute hand-drawn presentation is exactly what we’ve come to expect of iOS physics puzzlers by now, but I was impressed with how much animation work went into the eponymous critter’s adorable antics while the player’s trying to figure out solutions. The game cycles through three music tracks, a groovy New Age mix that kept me primed for more water pumping throughout. Weighing in at 40 levels with several re-visited to unlock them all, Watee should be good for four hours of fluid physics fun.
iFanzine Verdict: Watee may not carry enough heft to show up the reigning kings of the fluid physics subgenre, but its creative free-form puzzles are very much worth a go for genre fans who are keeping an eye out for a good challenge — and who appreciate a game that doesn’t always hold the player’s hand.