Can't make it to a party? Save a virtual reef instead!

Since this party is being held in my house, I imagine someone is certain to mention the giant squid in the bathroom. If you can’t make it, it won’t be you--but you can still have that same sort of undersea experience.

Here’s a game review I wrote a while ago for JayIsGames, that was never published because JohnB beat me to the punch. It may not exactly be a "party favor" per say, but it is a lovely game.... maybe even more so than my bathroom!

i-8d22b0d4aeff8e08a0bce4395fb9a67f-kaleidoscopereef.jpgWhat happens when an oil tanker crashes into a coral reef, and the EPA fails to act in time? Well, if you’re talking about Kaleidoscope Reef, the local fish won’t bother to wait-they’ll take restoration matters into their own hands... er... fins. Unfortunately, launching a new generation of symbiotic corals is a little trickier than you might think. These little ocean critters are going to need your help!

From the creators of the much admired Anika’s Odyssey (mentioned here once in the comments) comes Save Kaleidoscope Reef. In this casual and charming game, your goal is to catch the polyps falling from the upper ocean towards the soiled rocks below. Once caught, the polyps will attach to any bit of clean stone that’s nearby. Once anchored to the reef, they’re ready to partner with a zooanthellae.* Catch one of the bits of algae and drop it into a waiting polyp, and watch the reef grow. As soon as that section of reef is thriving, the fish will return and launch more polyps over a new section. The closer you come to the sunken tanker, the nastier the spills get-watch out for predators and leaking oil.

Complete the game to unlock a virtual "aquarium" reef, where you can sit back and watch your undersea garden grow in an oil-free environment. Simple in some ways, with elegant detail in other ways, Save Kaleidoscope Reef is a pleasant way to spend an otherwise idle coffee break.

*Others have interpreted the game a little differently, seeing the complete coral symbiotes feeding off of the floating plankton. They’re probably right. It’s still fun.

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