SURVIVE MOLA MOLA / SELECT BUTTON / Android
 
 
 
The ocean sunfish (mola mola) is one of nature's weirdest and most inefficient creatures. The young fish are tiny, don't steer well, have delicate constitutions, are preyed upon by pretty much everything and also have a propensity to get caught in commercial fishing nets. Since the survival rates are so poor, the females lay hundreds of millions of eggs. They eat jellyfish, but jellyfish have little in the way of nutrition, so they have to eat tons of them. Jellyfish are apparently laden with empty carbs, though, as the m. molas that manage to survive become HUGE, weighing up to around 3500 pounds in their fully mature state.

So that's our goal with this app -- to nurture a tiny mola mola, who initially dies when the wind blows too hard, until he's grown into a giant monstrosity. It's important coming in to know that this isn't the type of game you can curl up with on your tablet for 30-60 minutes at a stretch; it's much more comparable to the old "virtual pet" games like Tamagotchi, where you play for no more than five minutes at a time before giving it a long rest, and periodically check in throughout the day to feed the little guy and do any activities that have come available.

Mola is confined to one screen called a "tank", even though technically he's supposed to be in the open ocean. The core of the game is pretty boring -- tap food as it appears in the tank to gradually build mola's growth bar up, until he evolves into his next form. Since this is a "freemium" game this, of course, takes flipping forever. The process is sped up by purchasing better types of food, which is done with an in-game currency called MP. You can of course pay Real Moniez for MP, which is what the developers would really like you to do, but you also grind it out by going on "adventures", of which three become available every 60 minutes of real time. These are randomized events like jumping out of the water to clean off parasites, or visiting with a sea turtle. These have a pretty substantial chance of killing you, but if you survive you gain bonus weight and get a chunk of MP to boot. Dying actually isn't completely bad, however -- though Mola goes back to his starting state, you'll get a better survival rate when that particular adventure pops up in the future, and you'll also earn more weight for completing it.

So sussing out all the deaths as quickly as possible is actually the key to long-term success here, and that play pattern both makes the game feel less repititious, and also cuts down on the need for microtransactions. It's worth the 99 cents to support the developer and get the rather pushy ads to stop displaying, but beyond that you really don't need to pay any money at all to grow your mola to whale proportions. But again, it's important to bear in mind that the intent of the game was to put it on a phone and pull it out for very short sessions periodically as you  go about your day, not to put it on a tablet and curl up with it for an hour's gaming before bed. If that play style works for you, definitely download it and kick the dev the paltry $1 he's asking for.
 
 
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