Pause for a moment, if you will, and take some time to remember the wildlife and livelihoods put at risk by the Gulf Coast Oil Spill. The single atrocity that threatened an entire ecosystem and drew international attention to the way we drill for oil sparked hundreds of discussions on how oil companies carry out their duties and what may be done to safeguard their practices. But now there begins a new debate – one fueled by decency in regard to a current and sensitive issue.
You see, Puff Puff by 6th Mega presents a gaming application that most would normally find typical, even bordering on dull. Puff Puff employs the use of a spiny puffer fish that floats around the ocean floor simply trying to make his way as far into the dangerous waters as possible. He tackles the coral reef with finesse, behaving like any other aimless video game character might. It is not until we realize that good ol’ Mr. Puffer Fish can also peruse the bottom of the sea via Gulf Spill mode that we begin to feel uneasy.
The main (and only) goal, as it appears, involves the gamer simply navigating the spiny puffer fish as far into the shark-infested waters as possible, making sure the fish eats all it can along the way. Pinching and stretching the screen will deflate and inflate the fish respectively, helping it alter its depth so it can move up and down on the screen to avoid obstacles and snatch up whatever food and bonuses it discovers as it proceeds. Eating the plus sign bubbles means your fish is consuming sea urchins, which are the food that provides energy. Eating the lightning bolt bubbles represent the current, meaning you will swim faster. (Tilting your device to the right will also cause you to speed up.) Snagging the +1 fish will gain you an extra life.
At the top of the screen, users will see a bar that marks how many inches their fish has traveled, how many lives remain, their energy level and the pause button. As you move about, users will need to avoid hitting the coral and sharks – globs of oil and broken pipes in Gulf Spill mode – by dodging them as they approach using their puffing capability to navigate. A shield bubble will be unlocked once you’ve eaten five sea urchins and will protect you from the various obstacles for a short moment.
Puff Puff operates under the convenient pretense that 30% of all proceeds will be donated to aid ecosystem restoration, which is rather commendable. However, with less than half of the proceeds going to fund this cause, one has to wonder why the company needed to invoke such an image in the first place.
Like mass manufacturing a Titanic version of Battleship just a few months after its sinking, or creating a World Trade Center-themed Jenga set in the wake of the disaster’s aftermath, Puff Puff actually seeks to benefit from the oil spill imagery used within their game. In fact, their insensitivity is transparent from the start, with an App Store description opening that reads: “Experience the Gulf Oil Spill on your iPhone! Explore the underwater world of deep sea drilling, dodge globs of oil, broken pipes, and Robo Subs.”
No matter how anyone may try to interpret said passage, the wording comes off as a cruel joke to those humans and animals that were devastated by the spill. The proceeds from a game set in the coral reef alone could have just as easily donated 30% of its proceeds to restoring ecosystems. Exploiting the misfortune of others will only detract from the good that may come from their gracious donations.
For a peek at what Puff Puff has to offer, you may view the game’s trailer here.
Puff Puff [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. A small expedite fee was paid to speed up the publication of this review.