Cave Diver, developed Mi and published by Thumbstar Games, promises to the you the chance to “dive in and explore and underwater maze of deep-sea caves”. The word ‘maze’ is used very loosely, as gameplay amounts to guiding your diver across a linear path from left to right, with no ability to go back on yourself. However, this game is very easy to pick up and play. Controls are simple: hold the left side of the screen to go up, and hold the right hand side to go down. Hold both sides of the screen to stop movement altogether, but you best not wait too long, as the later few levels have a fairly strict air supply. If you do take damage or miss something, the control method is not to blame as controlling your diver is fairly intuitive and responsive.
To keep yourself afloat in the underwater treasure finding business, you must be sure not to run out of air. Extra air is found around the sea tunnels as power ups, as well as temporary speed boosts. Also available to collect is shiny doubloons and illustrious pearls. Each level has 3 pearls dotted around the cave floor, giving bonus points and giving the player a target for completion. Unfortunately collecting all of these in the game gives you no extra reward.
The graphics are pretty, with schools of fish swimming away from you, crabs plodding along the floor and ceiling and your character is animated well. The animation of the diver and sea creatures is good, although the sharks tend to be static. While the music matches the mood of the game, it is simplistic and repetitive, but the sound effects do help bring about a feeling of being underwater.
Hindering you on your treasure hunt, apart from a limited air supply, are various dangers, both natural and man made. Sharks guard the tunnels and jellyfish swim around and must be avoided. Later levels give you static and moving mines that can damage you, and colliding into these costs you precious air. These moving mines provide the greatest level of challenge, and hitting these takes away a great deal of oxygen.
There are 20 levels for you to complete, but unfortunately no real challenge occurs in them until around level 12 or so. After completing the game, all that is left to do is to beat your score. A time attack variant would be good here, as you can get snagged easily on rocks and seaweed, thus slowing you down. While there are no achievements to collect in the game, there is Game Centre compatibility and a leaderboard to let you compare overall score with your friends.
Ultimately, while this game provides a simple distraction for a quick mobile game, it has no real ‘meat’ on its bones. It can be completed in under an hour, and provides no real incentive to go back and beat your scores. This game to me is like a cross over between Nintendo’s Balloon Fight and Durell Software’s Scuba Dive, but not being as engaging or fun as either. The pearl collecting on each level will hold your interest, but as they are always found on the ground, they are generally easy to pick up.