While I am not a big fan of the original due to its lacklustre gameplay, Squidlit is still a charming title through both how authentic it feels to an actual Game Boy game and its adorable inhabitants. A sequel was luckily in the cards for the developers, but this time they were taking the limitations of the Game Boy Colour into focus. Having three colours per sprite, 160 X 144 pixel resolution, maximum 40 sprites at any time, no more than 10 sprites horizontal line, only four sound channels for music, and all the SFX recorded on a real GBC, show an impressive form of dedication! Although, are the upgrades to a colour hardware enough to make Super Squidlit into a superb sequel?
I just wanna hug everybody!
Before this adventure can get going, a recap is in order to get players on board with what happened in the previous title. Plip the Squid was on a journey to a spooky castle nearby, where the god emperor, Skwit Skwot, was brewing a magical potion. With Plip being just a small squid who did not understand a single word of what the god emperor said, she decided to ink the cauldron to stop her schemes, causing it to rain ink over the entire town. A few days have passed since this tale and Skwit Skwot has come to ask Plip for help in taking down an unspeakable evil.
This intro sets up the simple and cute plot you will be partaking in, with the story never becoming too convoluted or halting the player with unnecessary fluff. Surprisingly though, Super Squidlit is one of the most delightful adventures I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing despite its minimalism. For starters, the inhabitants have been affected by this strange sense of evil in varied manners, such as a hot spring located nearby a volcano turning customers into ice due to a sudden weather change. This is constant throughout the journey and a wonderful way of making the overall plot a constant theme, but still keep to the game’s humorous tone.
In fact, this atmosphere is strengthened by how adorable all of the creatures in this world are. These varied characters can either provide thoughts about the current events or are there to give you a good laugh. Be it someone hiding away and thanking you for visiting him, your town’s mayor counting stars or a bartender pressing delicious muffin juice, every single dialogue is gold and makes me excited for whenever I can chat with an NPC. There are even clever additions for elaborating on the fascinating lore this universe holds, with my favourite being a doctor asking me how the rainbow eye drops are working.
This translates lovely over to how diverse this world is! A magical forest with butterfly books, an underwater civilisation for squids, and more give Super Squidlit an interesting universe that I am happy to see fleshed out! This worldbuilding is strengthened even further by subtle stories from characters and even optional reading materials that add to these concepts! None of the extra lore feel like forced flavour texts, as they only add to what you already could be speculating about, keeping the focus on the world around you! When there is a radio used to heat a house and a flying book being a fanfiction based on a d20 system, there is a thing of beauty when all of this can be accepted as fitting parts of this universe.
However, what shocked me the most is that Skwit Skwot and Plip actually share a heartwarming chemistry between them as friends! This never comes off as formulaic, as they will talk more together and have fun on each other’s expenses, but neither are done shallowly. Their dialogues evolve to make them closer to each other, making them naturally grow as characters and partners. This is all done through hilarious dialogues as well, adding to the humour and charm this game continues with. I am surprised how much I ended up loving this duo, but they really work magnificently off each other, with Skwit Skwot being high upon her mighty horse and Plip being cute and naive, meeting each other eventually on the middle ground to form a strong friendship.
This is one of the most admirable stories I have ever experienced, with even your house being entertaining to explore. Hearing how Plip cannot read well due to her tiny eyes or see that her refrigerator has an interesting way of conducting power and be told it makes a weird sound just like you, Super Squidlit got me easily sucked in right from the start. It has a fascinating world, impressively engaging lore, and adorable characters that come with funny dialogues. This is cuteness overload, and I love every single part of it!
Story Score: 10/10
Evolution is more than meets the eye
Being a sequel to Squidlit, this entry has a lot of upgrades from its predecessor that are praiseworthy. This can already be seen in Plip’s moveset, as she still can move left and right, jump, shoot ink below her, and snuggle for sharing the love with anyone nearby. The ink shot still works as a subtle double jump and an attack, giving it a neat form of varied functions. Similarly does Plip’s new ability; the dash roll. This move can break through obstacles, attack enemies or dodge right through them, making it have quite diverse uses. It is not effective against every opponent, which still gives the ink shot an important role for taking care of them.
Although, the most important part of the roll dash is that it can also be used in midair for bouncing off walls, providing you the ability to wall jump. This adds tons of possibilities for clever level design, as Plip can now use it and the ink move to reach higher grounds for finding secrets, which is an amazing design in itself. The roll attack cannot be used multiple times in a row, unless you hit a wall or are on the ground, which is also a nice touch. Every level takes good advantage of the little squid’s abilities by always testing you in using them to discover items, such as health regenerative muffins or secrets. Since muffins are now rather hidden around then out in the open, this makes it more important to scavenge for them, which adds to the exploration in a smart way.
Even the enemy placements are excellent and help at making the platforming engaging. None are located to get a cheap hit on you, only testing you in your reaction time and skills to deal with them while you are simultaneously jumping around. The variety with these fiends is also impressive, be it snails moving on any flat surface, flying dragonflies, or water fleas floating toward you, everyone has a distinct way each to be defeated and patterns to be aware of. All of these in simple manners, never making you halted in your adventure. Except for when you save in small gaps by snuggling in them, which only takes two seconds.
While the game will present you with linearly designed stages, you are able to revisit older ones through the overworld screen, letting you easily explore previously visited areas if you so desire. Furthermore, there are some clever forms of variety included in order to make this journey more diverse. One example is an underwater segment where you have to jump in order to swim and can only shoot ink that flows upwards the opposite direction of where you are swimming towards. These stages are a ton of fun with intriguing exploration and an unique change to your setup. Despite the horizontal shooting level being slow and mediocre, it at least has a nice idea about throwing projectiles back at foes, making it a decent distraction that only lasts for one stage.
However, the biggest change in setup is not even a side-scroller. In parts of this adventure, you will be controlling Skwit Skwot in FPS 3D dungeon levels that have RPG elements to them. Yes, you read that correctly! Whenever you play as her, you will have bars for health and mana, with the latter being basically your ammo for your varied spells. Your main attacks will be a devastating fire stream and the ability to summon a cloud who shoots lightning down on enemies, both costing MP to use. Meanwhile, shooting ink with your squidlit does not use magic and is a bit weaker, and similarly goes for your ball attack that steals mana from fiends and barely hurts them. Since you cannot refill MP automatically, all of these four abilities will be important to vary up in uses!
Fighting enemies is surprisingly easy to do considering you only have two action buttons to use, with one being used for both locking onto and strafing by either tapping or holding it down, which is a clever touch! The opponents can be challenging when in groups, but none are too difficult to take on individually as they are rather aggressive than smart. Through defeating foes, you gain XP that can lead to you levelling up, which grants you stat points to be put in one of your categories. You can upgrade either of your four attacks, or the stats for oomph (spells’ strengths), ether (amount of mana), tough (defence) or regeneration for your health or magic. All of the stats will get a slight boost by each level up, but the skill points help to compliment your preferred playstyle.
Despite that you do not get a map of these dungeons, they are easy to navigate through by having clear structures and being divided into sections, making it hard to ever get lost. Even when you have to find keys or defeat a certain amount of enemies in order to progress, these levels are always exhilarating thanks to exciting combat and solid exploration that never becomes daunting. I also adore brilliant details included here, such as how you automatically will be shifting to the ball attack if you run out of MP, making these 3D stages surprisingly comfortable to play with the GBC setup!
The boss fights are just as engaging. Those in the FPS segments contain big creatures where aggressive approaches will be important, while the one for the side-scrolling stages have puzzles and patterns to overcome. Be they giant monsters with cruel attacks you will have to dodge or a rude sorcerer that gets their strength from magical crystals you need to cover in ink with, all present fun battles. The only true downfall to the entire experience, is that the game’s challenge is never a grand one. I do wish this could have been escalated better through more creative events, but this issue never makes Super Squidlit boring thanks to the clever level designs it already offers.
Taking on two genres for a small adventure with the GBC’s limitations in mind sounds like a recipe for disaster, but this title simply provides a nice and imaginative journey that always made me smile. I do wish there could have been more to its challenge and some parts are definitely lesser than others, but I was always having a good time. This is quite the jump from the first entry and I applaud the developers for going so far with varied concepts for this sequel, while making just about all of them entertaining.
Gameplay Score: 7.5/10
Rainbow eye drops are effective!
I want to start off this segment by adoring the aesthetics of the side bars. They represent the original Game Boy Colour wonderfully, with a juice light on the left side and you being able to even alter the colours of the system you are playing on. This helps with the illusion of what the developers set out to do: make a game for the GBC. Going in, it is easy to see what a great upgrade from the previous title the use of colours provide, with even an intro containing still images with plenty of colours and imaginative designs everywhere.
Everything is more distinct and detailed through the use of colours, be it the items inside someone’s house or the creatures’ designs. This can even be said for the insects that have tons of subtle elements to them, but enough abstract looks to be fitting to this cute and cartoony world, including their diverse animations for biting the dust. Enemies are also varied enough to feel like natural parts of the varied environments they are in, such as the aquatic world with water fleas or old ruins filled with snails. All areas have something unique about them with tons of set pieces to make each of them feel like living and breathing worlds.
This even goes for the 3D dungeons. Despite that they have a minimalistic art style to them, this fits with what the GBC could do and I admire how these segments still have visual flavours through minor additions and thematic uses of colours, like the stalactites within the blue ice cave. The diverse spells and fiends are also impressive to look at, with everything being easy to decipher from afar. Furthermore, there are a ton of subtle details that show a lot of work went into this project, such as the shooting stars over the mayor’s house and Skwit Skwot’s multiple facial animations that make her into quite the memorable character.
Although, the visuals are not without their odd drawbacks. While they are simple in style, there is always a sense that more could have been done to make the entire project more polished. There is this one alien contraption that has an amazing lighting effect to it, yet nothing else come close to this level of detail. Then there is the strange lack of certain effects, such as mushrooms having no bouncing animation when using them as trampolines. These are minor, but hard to not notice when there is a lot of effort being put elsewhere within this project.
Luckily, what Super Squidlit lacks in visual finesse, it makes up for with charm and style. The varied and adorable creatures with visual humour are always good for a chuckle, strengthening the uplifting tone of this title. There is also something sweet about seeing a drawing of Plip in the pause menu or how all scriptures are written on scrolls. While the inhabitants are mainly squids, all have unique colours and hats to give them minimalistic, but cute designs. Even their houses are different depending on what region they live in, which is a nice touch.
The audio is just as great, with tons of lovely bit crushed effects adding to the explosions or destructions. All of the creatures sound differently when you talk to them and every effect is distinctly used for varied forms of actions. I am confused as to why some parts seem to lack effects as well here, like the crumbling floors being awkwardly silent, but these are rare and never obscure the rest of the game’s amazing audio. Skwit Skwot’s diverse sounds for her spells especially deserve a mention, since they all have an intriguing and otherworldly feel to their performances.
As for the music, it has gotten a lovely upgrade from the previous entry with more and varied uses of notes, making every track great for long stretches of game time. All are catchy with diverse sounds and fit with their levels, be it the spooky theme of the haunted stage or the jungle setting with a neat beat to it. It is quite the amazing soundtrack that uses the hardware’s limitations to its fullest to convey clear themes and atmospheres. I truly hope the music will be released for purchase soon.
Presentation Score: 8/10
Ancient humorous scrolls
Throughout this journey, you can find buttons and scriptures scattered around, adding to the exploration of these entertaining stages. The buttons are used for unlocking recipes for some really nice meals, while the scriptures contain humorous writing that add some clever lore to this world. All are exciting to find, and I instantly tried to get everything the moment I knew I had some left. This can be difficult to do though, as you are not told which areas still have undiscovered extras, which could turn this into a blind hunt. It is still severely engaging to take on this challenge, just a bit more leniency would have been welcomed.
Extra Score: 9/10
I was not sure what to expect from a sequel after the first game, but Super Squidlit does so many interesting changes that are both small and big, creating a substantial adventure. It is adorably charming, has tons of creative levels, fun forms of variety, and a colourful world filled with impressive worldbuilding and music. Combine this with strong replay value and hilarious dialogues, and I am already excited for a third instalment. This is one title that truly lives up to the word super!