Gulp! is ICE’s first release since the rather ill-fated Total Carnage, and it’s nice to see that it’s actually a reasonably good game. As you can probably tell from the screenshots, it’s got an awful lot to do with fish. To capture the essence of Gulp in a nutshell, it’s Lemmings underwater, but with much more interaction with the background.
The aim of each level is to get a certain number of fish from the inlet pipe to the exit, while avoiding everything if possible. The player is allocated a certain number of ‘morphs’, which can be applied to any fish you care to mention.
By selecting one of these special abilities and clicking on a fish, you can change them from their usual physical appearance to everything from walls to torpedoes. These different abilities are used to get past various obstacles within the game, and of course you only have just enough of each to actually get you to the end of the level. Tactics is the name of the game here.
The levels are large, and fairly intricately laid out. Most people will find Gulp! incredibly hard to play for the first hour or two, simply because there is so much to watch out for, and so much going on at once. Thankfully, you are able to pause the game and scroll around the map, so you shouldn’t find it too much trouble planning your route; it’s just the execution that’s the hard part.
Gulp! isn’t a bad game at all. Although it sometimes can get very confused on screen, there are some really nice ideas in there. It won’t hook everyone. In fact, I don’t even think it will hook everyone who liked Lemmings. You’ll either love it with a passion, or you’ll play it once and never look at it again. It’s a time-honoured statement, but I think with this one you’re really going to have to try before you buy.