There’s no denying that the water-based physics puzzler Where’s My Water? from Disney has become one of the biggest success stories in the entire history of the App Store, and the entire history of mobile gaming in general. So after taking some time to extend Swampy’s adventure in numerous updates, not to mention in spin-off games like Where’s My Perry? and Where’s My Mickey?, the folks at Disney decided it was finally time to give Swampy and friends the proper sequel they deserve: that’s right, a full-fledged Where’s My Water? 2.
But of course, the big question still remained: what new things would Where’s My Water? 2 bring to the table that we haven’t already seen in previous Where’s My…? titles? Well as it turns out, the game is gearing up to bring a whole lot of new ideas to the beloved series, whose original game first launched two years ago this month. I recently had a chance to chat with Where’s My Water? creator Tim FitzRandolph and view a live demo of Where’s My Water? 2 in action a few days before the game’s official release, and all I can say is that Where’s My…? fans are going to be in for quite a treat.
The first thing that gamers are likely to notice upon launching Where’s My Water? 2 for the first time is the new inclusion of a moving world map. Taking a page from PopCap’s recently released Plants vs. Zombies 2: It’s About Time, this world map features each level of a level set depicted as a floating square icon, and spread throughout a water channel in a number of interactive sewer-themed environments. The adventure will take players through three distinctly fun and quirky worlds, like the Soap Factory which is responsible for the production of those addictive Rubber Duckie collectables, as they complete levels and move across each separated map.
The reason behind this exciting new change, as FitzRandolph tells me, is so that everyone of all skill levels can experience everything that Where’s My Water? 2 has to offer without any prerequisites, such as completing certain level packs before gaining access to later level types with different flairs to the overall gameplay. Players will no longer be restricted by having to complete every Swampy level, say, before moving on to some of the Cranky ones, which feature a distinctly different gameplay style. In this way, the world map enables the developers to interweave these various types of levels into the mix in a gradual fashion. Here, all Swampy, Cranky, and Allie puzzles will be split up throughout each world, to really keep the gameplay fresh and exciting at every watery turn.
In addition to its more practical function, the new world map also serves as the greatest means of customization in the series to date, and provides a social element never seen before in a Where’s My…? game, as the Rubber Duckies and hidden items that players can collect throughout regular gameplay will then show up floating around the waters of each respective world map. Players can then dress up their Rubber Duckies in a number of fun costumes and disguises, and compare their little yellow buddies with their real-life friends’ Rubber Duckies through social media networks like Facebook.
While players will see a much welcomed return of some of the best gameplay elements and features of the original Where’s My Water?, such as manipulating steam and having to deal with those pesky vats of purple toxic waste, one thing that’s been reworked in Where’s My Water? 2 are the levels that used to be larger than your screen, and which required you to scroll down with your finger in the middle of making your cuts in the dirt (something the touchscreen didn’t always register in the way that you intended it).
Instead, these bigger levels are now encompassed in the all-new “Duck Rush Levels,” which are an exhilarating new addition to the classic Where’s My Water? formula, and one I think will quickly become a fan favorite the first time that players get a chance to experience them. In each of these levels (which contain a whopping six Rubber Duckies to collect), the screen is constantly moving down, whether you want it to or not, sort of like some of those old forced sidescrolling stages from Super Mario Bros. Players will need to make decisions on the fly, and keep up with the moving screen as they make cuts and maneuver the water throughout some surprisingly lengthy vertical levels.
But as if the game’s initial dozens of levels set across three sprawling locations somehow weren’t enough to get your water-based physics-puzzling fix in, then each level also comes with a series of fun optional challenges that are sure to put your puzzle skills to the ultimate test! For instance, in the “Avoid It” challenge, players will have to complete the entire level without letting a single drop of water hit any of the stoically placed ducks; while the “Driller” challenge lets players drill through rocks for the first time in a Where’s My Water? level, while simultaneously restricting other certain features like water-triggered switches, so that getting to the goal doesn’t become too easy for you now!
Also for the first time ever in a Where’s My…? game, Where’s My Water? 2 is set to feature an innovative hint system, that can be used as little, or as much, as a player needs to help them on their way to victory. Each hint takes the form of a suggested cut that players should make in the earth to start guiding the water to the goal. And while each hint starts out only showing you the first cut of a level, subsequent hints can also show you as many additional cuts as needed until you get yourself back on the path to giving Swampy and friends their water. The hint system works in unison with the very first power-up system to be seen in a Where’s My Water? game as well.
However, FitzRandolph made it abundantly clear to me that these power-ups are strictly used to help players nab a particularly tricky Rubber Duckie in any given level, and are not a means of bypassing an entire stage without ever actually having to learn how to complete it. Of the few power-ups that I got to see in action, one started players out with each Rubber Duckie already containing 4 of the 5 water droplets needed to add them to your collection, while another power-up fitted each Rubber Duckie with an internal vacuum of sorts, which forcibly drew any water droplets in the near vicinity straight into the empty duck collectables themselves (it was pretty awesome, to say the least)!
It all seems to make perfect sense in the overall progression of the franchise, especially considering that Where’s My Water? 2 will be the series’ first foray into the free-to-play territory: a decision, FitzRandolph states, that was made in part to eliminate the confusion of having multiple paid and “lite” versions of the same game pop up on the App Store. Additional hints and power-ups will be able to be purchased in the game through small microtransactions, although players can also earn plenty of each just through regular gameplay.
After only a few minutes of seeing Where’s My Water? 2 in action, I was already sold, and I couldn’t get this big smile off of my face as I watched one of mobile gaming’s most successful franchises take what it does best, and push it to even more fun and exciting new levels. The long-awaited sequel can be downloaded right now for both iOS and Windows 8 devices, with support for Android devices on the way soon.