Suppose you were an anthropomorphized Felis catus whose father specialized in making toy ducks. Suppose as a cat you had a pet mouse named Seymour. Suppose you discovered one day that someone has absconded with your ducks. Why then you’d transform into Secret Agent Splat and proceed to investigate with help from your pet!
Based on the popular children’s book Splat the Cat, Secret Agent Splat’s Mission is a set of mini-games where children can help the eponymous feline (and his rodent sidekick Seymour) hunt down and retrieve Splat’s missing toy ducks and receive a special agent rating. All 48 missing ducks must be collected to receive an agent rating.
The game starts off with a short background teaser story.
Playing as Agent Splat, you are faced with three tasks, er missions, that must be completed in order to recover your stolen ducks.
The first, Seymour’s Impossible Mission, requires the Splat to “fish” his hapless pet down a shaft populated with various contact hazards.
In this game, players must use the iPad’s accelerometer to tilt the device to move Seymour back and forth to avoid touching various nasty items. In the above screen, it’s high voltage. As you progress through each of the levels, they become increasingly difficult. Let me just say by about level 10 I was ready to pull out my hair, but then my reflexes may not be what they were when I was a wound-up kid.
The second mission, B-B-Boing, is a twist on the “whack-a-mole” game. The game starts with five holes on a green hill where oversized ants march across the top. The player controls a yellow hand on a spring, and must pull and release the hand every time the missing duck pops up from a hole. Each level has an increasing number of ducks to capture. But be careful! Interspersed with fowls popping up, Seymour himself appears. If a player tags Seymour instead of a duck, the player loses a life and must start the level again. In the screencap below, I’ve managed to just finish the level with one life remaining and captured 8 ducks, 5 over the required minimum of 3 for Level 1. Once you complete a level and meet your quota, you are rewarded with a missing duck.
A little caveat: Playing this game with an iPad in a case, one that has edges up close to the screen, makes B-B-Boing a little difficult in that you may have some difficulty dragging the hand down quickly—the edge of the case may hinder a player’s finger movement and botch the shot.
The last of the three mini-games available is Ducks in the Dark. The premise is quite simple: Mix and match the tiles to find matching pairs and see if you can’t beat your best time while doing it.
After completing a level in each of the games, players “find” a missing duck that gets popped into Splatt’s display case, along with badge levels achieved upon completion of the case.
There are 48 ducks to find, so players must therefore finish 48 games total before the case gets filled and a badge awarded. That’s a lot of games! And that’s a problem with Splatt’s Secret Mission I think: it feels like it takes too long to gain an achievement for such a kid’s game. Also, the first two mini-games stop incrementing beyond level 10, so it’s almost pointless to continue onwards in that sense as you’re playing the same difficulty level over and over. Now, you can select the “Reset Game Levels” in the My Duck Collection” to set the mini-games’ levels back to Level 1, but that’s not exactly intuitive.
Also, to advance through the agent levels, players must collect all the ducks, then tap the “Clear Ducks” to reset everything, play the games again (i.e., recollect 48 ducks) to get another badge level, then repeat the “Clear Ducks” and/or “Reset Game Levels” again to continue advancement. This is not intuitive either, and it might very well try the patience of children interested in becoming a “Super Secret Agent”, which is a pity, because with a little tweaking this game would be so much better and sensible from a child’s perspective. Personally I think it would have made more sense to reward players based on levels completed as opposed to the arbitrary number of ducks collected.
Individually, the mini-games are fun to play, the graphics are very well done and the narrator is first-rate, sounding a lot like Tom Bergeron from “Dancing with the Stars” and “America’s Funniest Home Videos”. It was as entertaining listening to him as it was playing the mini-games. The narrator sounded like he was really excited for you, and for young children I think that would be an added bonus to help encourage them. Each mini-game/section had its own unique music theme, which I thought was a nice touch, and certain events in the game triggered special music and sound effects, again something that is a big plus for keeping children’s attention. All in all, I felt the game was mostly there, but not quite fully complete from a level completion consideration. This isn’t to say young children wouldn’t find the game fun and engaging from a pure game play standpoint, just that they might have difficulty understanding the rewards or full objective and how to reach them.
MSRP: Introductory price of $1.99
What I Liked: Great graphics; Excellent narration, music and sound effects; Games easy to learn and can be challenging
What I Didn’t Like: Objectives with regard to duck rewards and agent level not clear and might frustrate children; Seymour’s Impossible Mission might be a bit too challenging at higher levels; Storyline and game seemed like they needed tighter integration and cohesiveness